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documenta: learning from Balashikha

  • 1 Kotelnicheskaya naberezhnaya Moskva, Moscow, 109240 Russian Federation (map)

Avenir Institute, Oleg Borodin, Anton Zabrodin, Katya Isaeva, Sergey Kischenko, Ikuru Kuvajima, Grisha Munrikov and Ira Tsyhanskaya, Maria Kapajeva, Natalia Timofeeva, Asya Zhetvina and others

Critical theory can be compared with ouroboros - a snake that is devouring its own tail. One of the most anticipated events in contemporary art world, documenta, has been taking place in sleepy Kassel since 1955. In 2017 we experience “art eclipse”: Venice Biennale, documenta and Skulptur Projekte Münster all are in conjunction. 

“Learning from Athens” is the topic of “ecliptic” documenta14, for the first time taking place in two cities simultaneously. The capital of Greece and motherland of democracy became the point of departure for the curator Adam Szymczyk. Still-the-centre-of-the-(art)-world-Europe faced historical “eclipse” of crises: economic as a consequence of global financial collapse of 2008; political, in the result of Brexit; geopolitical, caused by turmoil in Ukraine, Middle and Central East[ migrational, with the largest registered wave of migrants and refugees from Africa and Eurasia in the recent history; and as well religious, ideological, etc. Moralistic context of the documenta14 curatorial concept offers to reflect on the subject of collective and universal values, formulated thousands of years ago by free citizens (although slave-owning ones) of the Ancient Greek poleis. How unique this period of “super-crises” and how acceptable is the euro-centric outlook on the the course of the “ship” in the midst of storms of contemporaneity? Is it possible “to learn” somewhere else now, for instance in Balashikha? 

The group of artists, researchers and curators have decided after visiting documenta14 or learning about it from numerous reviewing and critical sources to have a look at the “eclipse” without protective glasses, just as Donald Trump from the balcony of the White House. 

text: Denis Maksimov