Documenta Kicks Off With a Genre-Busting List of Nearly 300 Artists and a Concern for the Rights of Space Rocks

Documenta Kicks Off With a Genre-Busting List of Nearly 300 Artists and a Concern for the Rights of Space Rocks
dOCUMENTA (13) artistic director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev
(Photo by Eduardo Knapp)

KASSEL — “I don’t have a concept,” said documenta 13 artistic director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev to those gathered to kick off the year's most anticipated exhibition. While that may be the case, what Christov-Bakargiev does have is a lot of thoughts. “I want to give a lecture,” she continued, later laughing, “This is serious you know; this is documenta.”

The curator's 30-minute opening remarks spanned from Adorno and aesthetic autonomy to neurology, and from the desires of meteorites to the digital roots of rifts between rich and poor, causing some actually to cry out for her to end. (One outspoken woman burst out, “This is very un-polite. People from all over the world have come to listen to you!” as the artistic director skipped through vast portions of her opening essay.) Despite the commotion, four abstract curatorial themes or narratives became clear in the opening speech: the stage of subjecthood; besiegement by others; hope, optimism, and anticipation; and the state of retreat.

As for the all-important artist list, it is nearly 300 strong. Participants for the most part hail from a visual arts background — as one would expect at a big art show — however, philosophers and social and cultural theorists such as Judith ButlerAndrea CavallettiDonna Harraway, and Christoph Menke dot the list, as well as more obscure figures such as Suely Rolnik, listed as an “Unconscious analyst.” Demographically, the list is extremely gender-balanced in comparison to many international art exhibitions. A great number of artists who figured in Christov-Bakargiev's 2008 Sydney Biennale such as Janet Cardiff & George Burges Miller, and various Arte Povera artists — a specially of this curator — such as Giuseppe Penone and Alighiero Boetti also make the trip to Kassel.

As Christov-Bakargiev’s own feminist background suggests, issues of women's rights figure heavily in the exhibition. However, other tenets also prove important, such as questions of location — highlighted by the co-existence documenta 13’s four cities: This year, the show is also launching exhibitions in Kabul and Bamiyan in Afganistan, Alexandria and Cairo in Egypt, and Banff in Canada. “Located in an apparent simultaneity of places and times, they acquire meaning only through their interrelations,” Christov-Bakargiev explained to the crowd.

She also stated that she wished to point to non-human artistic and political motivations, addressing at length her failure to bring the El Chaco Meteorite to Kassel from its age-old seat in Argentina, a curatorial gambit that was announced last January. “Does [El Chaco] have any rights and how could it express them...would it have enjoyed a short trip to an art exhibition?” she asked.

Finally, it's worth noting that this year, writing and storytelling both figure prominently in the exhibition, via a writing residency titled, “Chorality. On Retreat.” 

As was predicted, within the city of Kassel itself, locations have multiplied in comparison to past documentas. Beside the Fridericianum, the documenta-Halle, and the Neue Galerie, the exhibition spans nine further locations, including the Karlsaue Park where Tacita Dean has created an installation in a small house. Now the race to see it all in three short days begins.

The full list of artists follows:

Leeza Ahmady, Agent; Curator

Korbinian Aigner, Artist; Gardener; Priest

Vyacheslav Akhunov, Artist

Barmak Akram, Filmmaker; Artist

Khadim Ali, Artist

Eric Alliez, Philosopher

Allora & Calzadilla, Artists

Maria Thereza Alves, Artist

Alÿs, Francis, Artist

Ayreen Anastas, Agent; Artist; Researcher

AND AND AND, Commoners; Poets; Whatever-singularities

Arjun Appadurai, Anthropologist of globalization

Ida Applebroog, Artist

Irina Aristarkhova, Cultural Theorist

Mohammad Yusuf Asefi, Artist

Doug Ashford, Artist

Tarek Atoui, Artist

Kader Attia, Artist

Julie Ault, Artist

Alexandra Bachzetsis, Artist

Bactrian Princesses Nanni Balestrini, Artist; Poet; Writer

Amy Balkin, Artist

Lars Bang Larsen, Art Historian

Karen Barad, Physicist; Philosopher; Theorist; Scholar; Author

Bassam El Baroni, Art Critic; Curator

Judith Barry, Artist

Massimo Bartolini, Artist

Gianfranco Baruchello, Artist

Ahmed Basiony, Artist

Hrach Bayadyan, Cultural Critic

Thomas Bayrle, Artist

Jérôme Bel, Choreographer

Mario Bellatin, Advisor; Writer

Gordon Bennett, Artist

Jill Bennett, Cultural Historian; Theorist; Curator

Franco Bifo – Berardi, Activist; Philosopher; Writer

Rossella Biscotti, Artist

Iwona Blazwick, Advisor; Curator

Manon de Boer, Artist

Alighiero Boetti, Artist

Anna Boghiguian, Artist

Bruno Bosteels, Critic

Carol Bove, Artist

Ali Brivanlou, Advisor; Biologist

Kristina Buch, Artist

Susan Buck-Morss, Philosopher; Cultural Historian

Andrea Büttner, Artist

Judith Butler, Cultural Theorist; Philosopher

Gerard Byrne, Artist

CAMP (founded 2007 by Shaina Anand, Sanjay Bhangar, and Ashok Sukumaran), Artists

Cardiff, Janet & Bures Miller, George, Artists

Emily Carr, Artist

Mariana Castillo Deball, Artist

Andrea Cavalletti, Philosopher

George Chan, Agroscientist; Engineer

Paul Chan, Artist

Kudzanai Chiurai, Artist

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Artistic Director

Geoff Cox, Critic; Writer; Curator

Critical Art Ensemble, Artists

Abraham Cruzvillegas, Artist

István Csákány, Artist

Attila Csörg?, Artist

Antoni Cumella, Artist

Salvador Dalí, Artist

Marie Darrieussecq, Writer

Dietmar Dath, Writer; Translator

Lydia Davis, Writer; Translator

Tacita Dean, Artist

Mark Dion, Artist

Thea Djordjadze, Artist

Willie Doherty, Artist

Nikola Doll, Art Historian; Curator

Trisha Donnelly, Artist

Sam Durant, Artist

Jimmie Durham, Artist

Epaminonda, Haris & Cramer, Daniel Gustav, Artists

Cevdet Erek, Artist

Michael Eskin, Author; Literary Critic; Publisher

Faivovich, Guillermo & Goldberg, Nicolás, Artists

Matias Faldbakken, Artist; Writer

Geoffrey Farmer, Artist

Omer Fast, Artist

Lara Favaretto, Artist

Silvia Federici, Feminist; Scholar; Activist

Ceal Floyer, Artist

Llyn Foulkes, Artist

Abul Qasem Foushanji, Artist

Chiara Fumai, Artist

Bettina Funcke, Writer; Editor

Rene Gabri, Agent; Artist; Researcher

 Peter L. Galison,Historian and Philosopher of Science; Filmmaker

Dario Gamboni, Art Historian

Ryan Gander, Artist

Dora García, Artist

Fernando García-Dory, Artist

Mario Garcia Torres, Artist

Theaster Gates, Artist

Jeanno Gaussi, Artist

Ashraf Ghani, Anthropologist; Political Scientist

Mariam Ghani, Artist

Simryn Gill, Artist

Kenneth Goldsmith, Poet

Julio González, Artist

Avery F. Gordon, Writer; Social Theorist

Tue Greenfort, Agent; Artist

Boris Groys, Philosopher

Durs Grünbein, Poet

Péter György, Cultural Theorist

Zainab Haidary, Artist

Fiona Hall, Artist

Dorothea von Hantelmann, Art Historian

Donna Haraway, Advisor; Science Studies and Cultural Theorist

Michael Hardt, Philosopher; Political Theorist

Graham Harman, Philosopher

Salah M. Hassan, Advisor; Art Historian; Cultural Theorist

Florian Hecker, Artist

Alanna Heiss, Curator

Daniel Heller-Roazen, Philosopher

Tamara Henderson, Artist

Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, Agent; Curator; Writer

Susan Hiller, Artist

Horst Hoheisel, Artist

Brian Holmes, Cultural Critic

Judith Hopf, Artist

Hourani, Khaled with Amjad Ghannam and Rashid Masharawi, Artists

Pierre Huyghe, Advisor; Artist

Sonallah Ibrahim, Writer

Sanja Ivekovi?, Artist

Emily Jacir, Artist

Alejandro Jodorowsky, Filmmaker

Toril Johannessen, Artist

Joan Jonas, Artist

Brian Jungen, Artist

Jungen, Brian and Linklater, Duane, Artists

Rudolf Kaesbach, Artist

Kahn, Robin & La Cooperativa Unidad Nacional Mujeres Saharauis (The National Union of Women from Western Sahara), Artist

Masood Kamandy, Artist

Amar Kanwar, Artist

William Kentridge, Artist

Hassan Khan, Artist; Musician; Writer

Sunjung Kim, Agent; Curator

Adam Kleinman, Agent; Curator; Writer

Alexander Kluge, Filmmaker; Writer

Koyo Kouoh, Agent; Curator

Joasia Krysa, Agent; Curator

Christian Kuhtz, Inventor

Erkki Kurenniemi, Artist; Physicist

Marta Kuzma, Agent; Curator

Adriana Lara, Artist

Horacio Larrain Barros, Cultural Anthropologist

Lê, Dinh Q. in collaboration with Vu Giang Huong, Quang Tho, Huynh Phuong Dong, Nguyen Thu, Truong Hieu, Phan Oanh, Nguyen Toan Thi, Duong Anh, Minh Phuong, Kim Tien, Quach Phong, Nguyen Thanh Chau, Artists

Pamela M. Lee, Art Historian; Art Critic

Jolyon Leslie, Architect

Gabriel Lester, Artist

David Levi Strauss, Art Historian; Cultural Critic

David Link, Artist; Computer Scientist

Maria Loboda, Artist

Mark Lombardi, Artist

Aníbal López, Artist

Renata Lucas, Artist

Lutyens, Marcos & Raimundas Malašauskas, featuring Sissel Tolaas, Artists

Goshka Macuga, Artist

Anna Maria Maiolino, Artist

Catherine Malabou,Philosopher

Nalini Malani, Artist

Raimundas Malašauskas, Agent; Artist; Curator; Writer

Man RayArtist

Chus Martínez, Head of Department; Core Agent; Curator; Writer

Maria Martins, Artist

Francesco Matarrese, Artist

Fabio Mauri, Artist

Julie Mehretu, Artist

John Menick, Artist; Writer; Filmmaker

Christoph Menke, Philosopher

Gustav Metzger, Artist

Lee Miller, Photographer

W. J. T. Mitchell, Art Historian

Aman Mojadidi, Artist

MOON Kyungwon & JEON Joonho, Artists

Gareth Moore, Artist

Giorgio Morandi, Artist

Romaine Moreton, Poet

Rabih Mroué, Artist

Stephen Muecke, Cultural Theorist; Writer

Christian Philipp Müller, Artist

Zanele Muholi, Artist

Ingo Niermann, Writer

Arne Nordheim, Composer

M.A. Numminen, Composer; Performer

Objects damaged during the Lebanese Civil War (1975–90), Deformed Sculptures

Hans Ulrich Obrist, Critic; Curator

Shinro Ohtake, Artist

Rahraw Omarzad, Artist

Roman Ondák, Artist

Füsun Onur, Artist

The Otolith Group, Artists

Lívia Páldi, Agent; Curator

Christodoulos Panayiotou, Artist

Nikos Papastergiadis, Cultural Theorist

Aaron Peck, Writer; Art Critic

Giuseppe Penone, Artist

Claire Pentecost, Artist

Alexei Penzin, Philosopher

Hetti Perkins, Agent; Curator

Michael Petzet, Advisor; Conservationist

Susan Philipsz, Artist

Pratchaya Phinthong, Artist

Sopheap Pich, Artist

Griselda Pollock, Art Historian; Cultural Theorist

Lea Porsager, Artist

Michael Portnoy, Artist

Margaret Preston, Artist

Seth Price, Artist

Ana Prvacki, Artist

Walid Raad, Artist

Atiq Rahimi, Writer

Michael Rakowitz, Artist

Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Artist

Doreen Reid Nakamarra, Artist

Pedro Reyes, Artist

Gunnar Richter, Artist; Historian

Sarah Rifky, Agent; Curator

Stuart Ringholt, Artist

Robbins, Ruth & Red Vaughan Tremmel, Artists

Rodas, Juana Marta & Isidrez, Julia, Artists

Suely Rolnik, Unconscious Analyst

Jacqueline Rose, Cultural Theorist

Andrew Ross, Social and Cultural Analyst

Pascal Rousseau, Art Historian; Curator

Paul Ryan, Artist

Hannah Ryggen, Artist

Nawal El Saadawi, Writer

Natascha Sadr Haghighian,  Architect

Anri Sala, Artist

Charlotte Salomon, Artist

Issa Samb, Artist; Writer

Annemarie Sauzeau, Writer; Art Critic

Ines Schaber, Artist

Eva Scharrer, Agent; Curator; Writer; Art Historian

Kitty Scott, Agent; Curator

Tino Sehgal, Artist

Albert Serra, Filmmaker; Artist

Nicola Setari, Agent, Philosopher

Tejal Shah, Artist

Wael Shawky, Artist

Zolaykha Sherzad, Designer

Adania Shibli, Writer

Vandana Shiva, Seed Activist

Nedko Solakov, Artist

Song Dong, Artist

Tamás St.Turba, Non-Art-Artist

Alexandra Sukhareva, Artist

Imre Szeman, Cultural Theorist

Mika Taanila, Artist, Filmmaker

Mohsen Taasha, Artist

G. M. Tamás,Philosopher

Alexander Tarakhovsky, Advisor; Geneticist

Michael Taussig, Advisor; Anthropologist

Jane Taylor, Advisor; Cultural Theorist; Writer

Javier Téllez, Artist

Aase Texmon Rygh, Artist

Warwick Thornton, Filmmaker

Time/Bank (e-flux: Julieta Aranda & Anton Vidokle), Artists

Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri, Artist

Jalal Toufic, Artist; Writer

Rosemarie Trockel, Artist

Mario Tronti, Political Philosopher

Vandy Rattana, Artist; Photographer

Vann Nath, Artist

Chiara Vecchiarelli, Curator; Writer

Ignacio Vidal-Folch, Writer

Enrique Vila-Matas, Writer

Andrea Viliani, Agent; Curator

Adrián Villar Rojas, Artist

Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Anthropologist

Jeronimo Voss, Artist

Vu Giang Huong, Artist

Roy Wagner, Anthropologist

Ian Wallace, Artist

Jessica Warboys, Artist

Lori Waxman, Critic

Clemens von Wedemeyer, Artist

Apichatpong Weerasethakul in collaboration with Chaisiri Jiwarangsan, Filmmakers; Artists

Lawrence Weiner, Artist

Eyal Weizman, Architect

Yan Lei, Artist

Haegue Yang, Artist

Akram Zaatari, Artist

Zalmaï, Artist

Alejandro Zambra, Writer

Anton Zeilinger, Advisor; Physicist

Konrad Zuse, Artist; Computer Engineer