dOCUMENTA(13): In Conclusion

dOCUMENTA(13) is almost over. In several visits Niche Berlin managed to discover quite a lot – albeit not everything. Yes, it’s been impressive. But we’re far from being at one with each other about whether we found it brilliant or a bit too zeitgeisty (animism, urban gardening, Afghanistan). Either way, we’ve seen many, many good art works. And each trip was definitely more than worth it. For those who still haven’t paid their visit yet – here’s our final shortlist of contributions not to be missed. In previous reviews we’ve already highlighted works such as Theaster Gates’ 12 Ballads for the Huguenot House (2012), Tino Seghal’s performance This Variation (2012) or Geoffrey Farmer’s installation Leaves of Grass (2012) at Neue Galerie. Besides these, our very personal “must-sees” are the following:

It’s one of the more discreet works at Neue Galerie, but Andrea Büttner’s multi-media installation Little Sisters: Luna Park Ostia (2012) is at the same time sober – if not slick –, delicate and reflective. It’s based on the artist’s research on a religious order in an amusement park near Rome and questions the negligence of immaterial properties in a superficial capitalist environment through various artistic strategies, such as a video showing layers of moss, a slide show about the nun’s every-day activities, illustrations of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Judgement.
Aesthetically, Tacita Dean’s work Fatigues (2012) in the former tax office is a highlight: The artist covered the interior walls with monumental blackboard-drawings. The work consists of beautiful wintery mountain and sea sceneries about the annual snowmelt in the surroundings of Kabul, inspired by footage the artist commissioned from an Afghan cameraman.
In the back of Karlsaue hides a little treasure in the guise of a shack. The Worldy House is an archive compiled and presented by Tue Greenfort. The artist filled the former bird-house (once installed for swans, now inhabited by racoons) with texts, books and videos that allow the visitor to engage with Donna Haraway’s ideas on the »multi-species co-evolution«. We could have spent hours in front of the computers containing documentation on art works dealing with the relationship of human and other beings.

Haris Epaminonda and Daniel Gustav Cramer installed their own meta show: The End of Summer (2012) is a mysterious, unusual take on vacation, exotic places and the adventures of travelling. Its minimalist and abstract aesthetic is quite opposed to the rather opulent imagery sometimes found in dOCUMENTA (13) and got us thinking about alternative ways of installing art works. On top, the attic of their space (the stationmaster’s former apartment in the train station) bears a magnificent treasure for you to discover.

We need not say more about Omer Fast’s much-talked about film Continuity (2012), but we have to admit that it surprised us as well and left a lasting impression.
For the art historians among us, the use of images in Mario Garcia Torres’ Have You Ever Seen The Snow? (2010) was delightful and illuminating. His research on Alighiero Boetti’s Hotel One in Kabul is artistic research par excellence: A picture essay analysis totally dependent on found images.
Finally, Walid Raad’s lecture performance in his installation Scratching on Things I Could Disavow (2007-ongoing) enthralled us: The Lebanese artist meticulously researched the interrelations between the art world and economic circles and already had us believing that the latter dominate every thinkable artistic decision, just to puzzle us again and demonstrate in a very poetic way how when it all comes down to it, lines, forms, shapes and colours live their own, autonomous little life, and not even times of crises can take that away from them. What better way to end a visit of dOCUMENTA (13)?

This is the eighth and final part of Niche Berlin’s thoughts on dOCUMENTA (13), read part one, two, three, four, five, six and seven.


also leave a comment
  1. Helen Berlin on


    Danke für die tolle documenta Berichterstattung! Ich fahre dieses Wochenende auch hin und werde sicherlich eure Tipps beherzigen. :)LGHelenVielleicht gefällt euch ja mein Streetart Blog:

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      Viel Spaß in Kassel! Wir freuen uns auf deine Berichte!

  2. Sasha on


    Documenta is certainly overwhelming. When I visited I wore practical sneakers and felt like I was running a race in order to make it in time to skip lines and see artworks. That said, there was so so much good art and I enjoyed Stil in Berlin’s coverage as a good introduction to some of the highlights. It has been a great series!I really enjoyed Janet Cardiff and George Burres Miller Alter Bahnhof Walk. It evokes a unique sense of experience and it also nicely ties Documenta directly to Kassel (something that does not always happen even in some of the site-specific works). Etel Adnan’s paintings are real gems and I really appreciate that Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev revived a discussion of feminist modernism by including works by Emily Carr and Margaret Preston.Yes, there was shortly no shortage of good art. That said, did you discover any good restaurants or cafes to take breaks in?

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      Dear Sasha,haha, I wish I could give you a better answer than: no, not at all. We just had a fun night at a bar called Lolita and after breakfast at McD… so unfortunately no tips at all.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.