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BLOGUMENTA Day 2.5 — NO EXIT/Kein Ausgung « MAD Blog
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BLOGUMENTA Day 2.5 — NO EXIT/Kein Ausgung

When I was an art-obsessed child, I used to fantasize that instead of overwhelming museums there would be consant little ‘art stations’ which studded the world like port-a-potties and were of course free. This Karlsaue Park at dOCUMENTA feels like this dream realized except maybe even better, being a bucolic, fairy tale-ish park (you know, one of those European ones), rolling green flats with with small art experiences everywhere you turn.  For my first experience of one of these, I seek Chiara Fumai’s “Moral Exhibition House”, as there’s a performance which is supposed to happen here at 4pm.

Moral Exhibition House

I take off my shoes and enter a tiny room with Fumai, who has a sort of beauty which is energetically paralyzing, despite, or perhaps because of, her long, dark, straight prosthetic beard.  Oh she is wearing a wedding dress too.  Something cool and feminist is happening, but I am a little stressed out that this ‘performance’ seems to consist of only us two. She sits across from me and stares me down and it’s too intimate, I’m crawling into bed with a stranger. This project is about Annie Jones, the historical bearded woman, and Fumai is reading an affectionate letter which was written to Jones by a male admirer.  I do not follow the content precisely, I’m not sure if this letter is fact or fiction if it’s a correspondance or merely a one-off fan thing, but what is impressive is the feeling that Fumai is channeling something from history and putting it here in this space between us. Her eyes are like candles burning on a birthday cake. When I leave I feel I am taking a sense of these people from the past and also a bit of Fumai with me like an invisible web, and I feel like a psychic vampire. But if I was a vampire I would only want blood, and this locavore kuchen would not stir the feelings that it does in me:



Fueled by this, I dither around the park and see some more art houses, like this one.  With this list of materials, how can we go wrong?




Ruth Robbins

This house is dark and full of romance. Black inside, with glittering relics of love and performance, bras and notes and teetering heels in softly glowing vitrines. I want to see more of the art houses but right over there is the Brüder Grimm Museum, I knew they lived in Kassel and I figured I’d run into some of their story somewhere. The museum is part of d13 too as it happens, I walk into an autobiographical universe by conceptual artist Nedko Solakov called “Knights (and other dreams)” which occupies an entire floor.

mini knight

His poor humble manly dreams! To be a knight and a hard rock drummer. From room to room I experience his fantasy in honest, articulate, self-reflective detail.

This child actor who later became and adult, held this wisdom about art:



RIGHT? The experience concludes with the moral that perhaps it’s better if some dreams don’t come true. When I step out of Brüder Grimm Museum, I see a free d13 shuttle bus coming and decide to just get on it so I can sit for a few minutes. It goes way way out around the park, which is quite big.  I thought three days was plenty to spend at dOCUMENTA, but really you could spend all one hundred days here and still not hold it all. I don’t want to get stressed out about this–impossible need not feel futile, am I right? I get off the bus and walk towards where there should be, according to my map, a cluster of art spaces.  Yes, there’s one, a kind of nondescript one, and there’s a lively, muppetish man sitting on a folding chair just outside of it, in the sun.  He looks familiar.  Ah yes, it’s Gunnar Richter, German scholar, artist, and historian of  Breitenau, the monastery turned “correctional labor education camp” outside of Kassel, I’ve seen him in photos.  Part of his piece is that he sits outside his gallery for an hour a day, available to talk to anyone.  Inside the gallery are photos of the rooms of Breitenau, and a slideshow telling the story of the place, exploring the ideas of ‘memorial’, and illuminating Richter’s own path as a historian.  Seeing the photographs of personal effect–a blanket, a spoon–of a few of the thousands of detainees conveyed to or through Breitenau brings this tragic history to my eye-level.  I begin to understand the importance of location in terms of the art and discourse that happens at dOCUMENTA.  Because the stakes are everywhere and unforgettable.  In the buildings, stories, and sensations, everywhere all around us.  This is serious. But Richter himself is light, for someone who has devoted his life to studying the darker hours of human civilization. We talk about the rewards of spending time at Documenta, he has gotten so much out of talking to the visitors and the other participants, they have offered him a fresh perspective he wouldn’t otherwise have, he says. As if to prove this he shows me a small photo album with many photos of him posing with artists from all over the world, and then a few photos of his daughter.  He is a truly happy and exuberant fellow and I think he must really be evolved to have such an open, bouyant heart.

Next I head back into the city, ready to do non-art for a moment, but there is no escape.  Here are designer and d13 artist Seth Price’s clothes for sale in the local department store:

Seth Price

Slightly further down the main drag is a large cinema stashed weirdly in an abandoned café storefront, a movie on a loop of two “disabled” people dancing their brains out on a black stage.  Such abandon and bodily freedom I have never seen.  Complete wildness and total effortless style and joy, these two have it goin’ on.  I ask the girl at the front desk if she is sick of listening to “Dancing Queen” all day and she says no, she often sings along, and besides her shift is ‘four hour only’.
Jérôme Bel’s "Disabled Theater"

Well this day just wouldn’t be complete without a Dali film screening WITH a pre-show performance, vaguely ritualistic and featuring a woman in a black veil holding a prism AND a scythe, moving like a greasy, wobbling worm followed around by a man carrying a bright light, trailed by a weeping elder man daubing his eyes with a hankie, and you finally, you guessed it, a live goose. The goose is distressed, making horrible panicked sounds and the man/teen holding it appears to be less than expert at maintaining control, everyone is set on edge.

Dali Doll

Then d13 artist and filmmaker Albert Serra appears and with vigor and an insistent drama augmented by a strong Spanish accent introduces the films, claiming that Dali is the greatest artist of the 20th century despite what may be some personal shortcomings such as his affection for killing geese as his favorite, how do you say, pasatiempo.  But not to worry everyone, the goose in this room will not be killed.  It will only probably die from fright. I am ready to be indoctrinated in to the Dali cult, especially after swooning from seeing two of Dali’s paintings today in real life, SKILLS! But the movies were relentlessly silly and shock-aspiring and there was a thread of vamping a la Lady Gaga which pervaded throughout.  I did like how he was so obsessed with his wife Gala and I have been subsequently obsessed with her too. Anyway, after watching Dali chase a green-painted pig near an idyllic Grecian cliff for a while, I’ve had enough and I run away, to shiver in my shed and rest up for tomorrow, because I am determined to be fully alive to experience Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s Alter Bahnhof Video Walk, and Susan Philipz’s “Study For Strings.”  Nacht.


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