Documenta 13 on Track to Break All Documenta Attendance Records

Documenta 13 on Track to Break All Documenta Attendance Records
Installation view of "Limited Art Project, 2011-2012", consisting of 377 paintings, commissioned and produced by dOCUMENTA (13) and made by Chinese artist Yan Lei
(Photo: Barbara Sax/AFP/GettyImages)

KASSEL, Germany — With 50 days left of documenta 13, the exhibition has several records in its sights. Between its June 9 opening and July 28, it is estimated that documenta will bring in over 378,000 visitors. That is slightly more than half of the total 751,000 visitors who came to documenta 12 in 2007, the quinquennial's record-holding attendance year, and 58,000 more than that exhibition’s halfway tally of 330,000. Should previous editions’ tendency towards increased visitor volume in the exhibition’s second half, artistic director, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and CEO, Bernd Leifeld’s documenta 13 should squash that previous record easily.

“It makes me very happy that visitors from Geramany and the world are enjoying dOCUMENTA (13), visiting many of the locations from the Kulturbahnhof to the far reaches of the Karlsaue,” Christov-Bakargiev said in a statement. “It makes me especially happy that many visitors are also returning several times, feeling at home in an exhibition that provides both sensual and perceptual experience, as well as an intellectual challenge.” As ARTINFO Germany previously reported, many of those repeat visitors are buying season tickets, with over 10,000 sold in the first half of the exhibition, more than double the amount for the entirety of documenta 12.

Certainly, documenta 13 needs to break records. With the additional facilities, such as the numerous wood cabins in the Karsaue Park, and record number of staff, its five-year budget was estimated at €24.6 million ($30.3 million). Leifeld hoped that much of this budget increase would be offset by increases in ticket sales.

Also notable is the smoothness with which this documenta has ru. Since June 9, there has only been a slight misunderstanding with the Disability Advisory Committee, which was cleared up by the addition of tours specifically designed for the blind. And even before, Per Busch, a Kassel native and unofficial spokesperson for Apple’s accessibility features in iOS 6, wrote to ARTINFO that the exhibition was, “also pretty good for the blind.”

There has hardly even been a negative word from critics and the press. Steven Henry Madoff said documenta 13 was the most important exhibition of the 21 Century to date. New York Times art critic Roberta Smith was slightly more hesitant, writing, “I would not have missed this seething, shape-shifting extravaganza for the world, and I’d rather not see its like again, at least not on this dwarfing, imperious, self-canceling scale.”

With summer vacations still to come or still underway for Germany and the world at large, documenta seems poised to become the most publically and critically lauded iteration of Kassel's marquee art event to date.

This article also appears on Berlin Art Brief.