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When Arnold Bode opened an exhibition called documenta in Kassel on 15 July 1955 he could have had no idea that it would become one of the most important exhibitions of world art taking place on a regular basis. Nowadays, world art implies conducting a constantly changing and broadening dialogue with an enormous variety of cultures.

But the “50 Jahre / Years documenta 1955 – 2005. archive in motion” exhibition is not intended only to present the story of a successful exhibition from Germany. It wants above all to show interested people in Germany and abroad what exactly lies behind this myth – people who are familiar with documenta only from catalogues and magazines so far, or have not seen all the exhibitions. The fact is that documenta was immensely controversial from the very first day – and it still has to ask itself a lot of questions: is it a comprehensive panorama of the current scene, or just the restricted view of a small number of exhibition makers? An independent festival of avant-garde art or just another event for tourists, like many biennales?

Exhibiting an exhibition is an almost insoluble problem. Above all, the curator must distance himself from the subject and empathize with it at the same time. Michael Glasmeier was the right man for the job, and has created a very special exhibition.

To do justice to the unique nature of each documenta, he presents the wide range of documentary material in eleven separate rooms. The compilation is accompanied by work by contemporary artists who respond to the archives by addressing one documenta each. Their work proposes a broader view of things and shows – alongside the documentary material – how archives can be handled creatively.

This exhibition could be realized only through joint efforts by a number of partners – documenta GmbH, documenta Archiv, Kunsthalle Fridericianum and the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen. We would like to thank all those involved for their commitment, and the Kulturstiftung des Bundes for supporting the project so generously.

Coming up:
23.11.2007 — 20.01.2008
Kumu Kunstimuuseum
(Kumu Art Museum)

In co-operation with Goethe-Institut Tallinn

preliminary dates
01.03.2008 — 30.04.2008
In co-operation with Goethe-Institut Ankara


documenta 1 / friederike feldmann

documenta 2 / kai vöckler

documenta 3 / katrin von maltzahn

documenta 4 / katharina meldner

documenta 5 / sabine groß

documenta 6 / william engelen

documenta 7 / tilo schulz

documenta 8 / andreas seltzer, heike vogler

documenta 9 / jonathan monk

documenta 10 / alexander roob

documenta 11 / heidi specker