Every five years, documenta transforms Kassel into a museum for contemporary art for exactly 100 days. The 15th documenta will be curated by an artist collective from Indonesia and will take place from 18 June to 25 September 2022.
The performance artist Joseph Beuys planted 700 oak trees in 1982 as part of the "documenta 7". And in 2007, the Chinese conceptual artist Ai Weiwei brought 1001 wooden chairs from the Quing dynasty to Kassel for "documenta 12". Joseph Beuys and Ai Weiwei are among the most famous of the contemporary artists who presented their works to the international public at the documenta in Kassel. Since 1955, the city in northern Hesse has been transformed into a museum of contemporary art for 100 days every five years. It is the largest and most important exhibition of its kind in the world. Works of art representing the disciplines of painting, photography and art installation will be presented at various exhibition venues scattered throughout the city.
In keeping with its own philosophy, documenta reinvents itself organisationally and conceptually every five years. The exhibition management, which is appointed by an international selection committee, is in ever-changing hands and enjoys absolute artistic freedom. The different curators each contribute their view of contemporary art and in so doing repeatedly initiate socio-political dialogues.
Forbidden Art Forum
When documenta first opened in Kassel in 1955 as an accompaniment to the Federal Garden Show, hardly anyone imagined it would become such a success story. The initiators were the artist and curator Arnold Bode and the art historian Werner Haftmann. Located in the ruins of the Museum Fridericianum, which was destroyed in the Second World War, they mainly presented art from the early 20th century onwards, which was considered "degenerate" during the National Socialist era and was not allowed to be displayed. The founders decided on the name documenta, because they wanted it to be a "documentation of modern art".
Collective becomes Curator
documenta has undergone many changes since its first exhibition ten years after the end of the Second World War. There was rapid growth in media interest and visitor numbers. The first documenta attracted 130,000 visitors. In 2017, documenta 14, which was held in two different cities for the first time, attracted almost 900,000 visitors to Kassel and around 340,000 to its second location in Athens. documenta 15, which will open its doors from 18 June to 25 September 2022, will also feature a conceptual innovation. For the first time, an artists' collective will take over the management. This core, ten-member group, called "ruangrupa" with artists and creatives from Jakarta, Indonesia, wants to create a globally oriented, cooperative, interdisciplinary art and culture platform. By taking a non-European look at art, the collective wants to focus on problems that have their origins in capitalism, colonialism and patriarchal structures. The intention of this approach is to appeal to people beyond the typical art audience.
Kassel - A magical fairy-tale world
Kassel however offers much more than just documenta. This beautiful lush green city in northern Hesse attracts visitors with wonderful castles, spectacular museums, top-class events, extensive parks and a lively alternative scene. Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2013. This landscaped garden is the largest mountain park in Europe. The main attractions are the many and varied illuminated water features, the panoramic viewing platform with the iconic statue of Hercules, the famous Wilhelmshöhe Palace portrait gallery and the picturesque Löwenburg Castle. Fairy-tale lovers can immerse themselves in the world of the Brothers Grimm in Kassel. The magical and instructive stories of the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm come to life in the imaginatively and interactively designed exhibition venue.