This issue of OnCurating looks at the history of documenta, the first large scale exhibition established in 1955 in Kassel, Germany. If we look at the history of documenta, discussions have notably quite often oscillated between the polarities of critique and affirmation of the status quo, distance from and immersion into reality, social relevance or l’art pour l’art, autonomy and heteronomy. As Harald Szeemann wrote in 1974 in his proposal for a “Museum of Obsessions” (with which he applied for artistic directorship of documenta 6 that went to Manfred Schneckenburger in the end), “Too much has recently been written about art’s social relevance or its necessary inutility.”8 After Szeemann’s unsuccessful attempt to include art from the GDR in documenta 5 in 1972, which had been turned down by the East German officials who were worried that the realist contributions would be “othered” along the lines of trivial art and art by the mentally impaired—what today would be called “outsider-art”—, the first and only showing of GDR artists took place in 1977 during documenta 6, where they were juxtaposed with self-reflexive meta-painting. Whereas documenta 5, with its concept of “Questioning Reality—Pictorial Worlds Today,” had performed a sort of realism insofar as it had pulled down the walls between art and non-art practices, or, between art and life, with the “Media Concept,” documenta 6 propagated reflections of art’s mediality rather than its participation in reality.
OnCurating Issue 33: The documenta Issue: documenta: Curating the History of the Present read thepiratebay eReader sale book
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