I went to “Documenta” in Kassel on the weekend and it was wonderfully inspirational. So glad I went but wish i had gone earlier and organised the experience a bit better as there was so much to see and i only had 2 days. The exhibition is spread over the town at several main locations as well as throughout the park. There was a huge variety of works ( both old and new) – sound installation, wind installation, video installation, performances, workshops, indoor and outdoor works, tapestries, drawings, Morandi paintings, sculptures, collage, a curious collection of objects made using old bullets from the basement of an African museum etc etc. Mind boggling!
One of my favourite works was called “Soil-erg” ( 2012) by USA artist Claire Pentecost. The work was entirely made of compost and other organic materials. It comprised of an exhibition of drawings on the walls and wall mounted large “earth” coins as well as earth bullion bars piled on a table in the centre. The drawings depicted images related to the land in a very immediate raw sort of way. They could be read as possible currency impressions for an imaginary “Soil Erg” “currency” but the main emphasis here for me was the intrinsic, non monetary value of land and the reality that it supports us, feeds us, clothes us etc. I also was reminded of the reality that “land” as raw material for growing may well be a scarce commodity in the future as we keep on cutting down forests, trees, building over land to house ever increasing populations.
Another fascinating work was Repair From Occident to Extra-Occidental Cultures by the French-Algerian artist Kader Attia. This comprised of a room exhibiting a collection of huge wooden sculptured heads, inspired by pictures of facial deformity resulting from WW1 war wounds. The heads were high on multi levelled shelves – the other levels exhibited books on primitive art, books about indigenous cultures, tribal artifacts, early 20th century medical books with luscious illustrations. On one wall a slide show rolled over that juxtaposed images of the war victims faces with Picasso-esque tribal masks and tribal facial modification as well as the repair of ancient vessels – often sewn back together in very obvious ways. Sadly i do not have a photograph of this work. My camera is no more and i ran out of photo space on the mobile phone!Another stand out work was the video and sculptural installation called “The Refusal of Time” by South African artist, William Kentridge. Fortunately Christian and I joined a tour on the first day so we got to skip the queue – an estimated 2 hour wait! My only regret was that we didn’t get to stay longer with this work as its quite stunning and very powerful. Here is a link to a write up about the work and how it developed.
And finally, one work that particularly resonated with me for some reason was an exhibition covering 2 large walls of apple drawings made by an artist called Korbinian Aigner (1885-1966). He was imprisoned in Dachau where he was forced to work in agriculture and grew many different types of apples which he has painstakingly documented. These postcard sized watercolour paintings depict a huge variety of apples reminding us of the beauty and diversity in nature. The non-trained artist was passionate about growing and drawing apples and the works are so simple yet so exquisite. Each also has a number on the top right hand corner – eerie reminders of the numbering given to victims of Nazi concentration camps. These also remind me of the numbers tattooed on animals destined for the slaughterhouse.
Apples by Korbinian Aigner
Apples by Korbinian Aigner