DOCUMENTA KASSEL 16/06-23/09 2007

The documenta is regarded as the most important exhibition of contemporary art, drawing attention from all over the world. It was initiated in 1955 by the artist and art educator, Arnold Bode, in Kassel. After the period of Nazi dictatorship, it was intended to reconcile German public life with international modernity and also confront it with its own failed Enlightenment.

Nobody would have thought at that time that the exhibition, often called the One Hundred Day Museum, would become an unparalleled success. Nevertheless, the twelfth documenta will be taking place in summer 2007.
The singular character of the exhibition has been preserved. Every five years, a new director is chosen and the exhibition is reinvented, a concept which to date has been affirmed by the public's interest. The number of visitors has continually risen. More than 650 thousand visitors came to Documenta11.

Under continually changing directorship, and in the equally leisurely and inexorable rhythm of five years, the documenta has advanced to become an authoritative worldwide seismograph of contemporary art. At the documenta, it becomes manifest whether art is succeeding in grasping the world in images and whether these images have validity for its public.

Roger M. Buergel is the artistic director of documenta 12

The artistic director of documenta 12 was Roger M. Buergel, an internationally active exhibition organiser and curator who was born in Berlin in 1962. Together with the art historian, Ruth Noack as curator, he, in line with the documenta's claims, showed art from the most various regions of the world and in all conceivable media. The works should were not shown simply unrelated to each other in a line, but were put into relationship with each other.

The leitmotifs: Three questions posed for art but also for its public
To initiate such a productive exchange, the documenta posed three questions for art, and also for its public: Is humanity able to recognise a common horizon beyond all differences? Is art the medium for this knowledge? What is to be done, what do we have to learn in order to cope intellectually and spiritually with globalisation? Is that a question of aesthetic education and cultivation? What constitutes life, when everything is subtracted which does not belong essentially to life? Does art help us to penetrate to what is essential?

For further information on the leitmotifs click here.  

These leitmotifs and questions which influence the curatorial process already required resonance space in the lead-up to the exhibition, both on local and international levels, which were generated by two documenta 12 projects:

documenta 12 magazines — a platform and three issues
"The documenta 12 magazines will provide an interested public with the knowledge required to be able to move competently and therefore leisurely through the space of the exhibition." (Roger M. Buergel)

One important project of the exhibition were the documenta 12 magazines, a magazine of magazines. More than 70 periodicals, magazines and online media from all over the world entered into a dialogue. They discussed and reflected the topics and theses of the exhibition. They reacted to them and questioned them on the basis of their particular knowledge.

For further information on the documenta 12 magazines click here.

documenta 12
advisory board
"From an exhibition which I call political I expect that it will educate and cultivate its public, that is, draw it out of the attitude demanded by the mass media, which amounts to us being very well informed but unable to act." (Roger M. Buergel)

documenta 12 aimed to support its public in relating the artistic works exhibited to their own lives. It was interested in local knowledge and also in making the exhibition work on a local level. Consequently, it sought dialogue with people in Kassel who are interested in questioning history and the present, in asking about the issues and problems of the city and its residents.

This contact manifested itself in the documenta 12 advisory board. About forty experts from Kassel were working on the leitmotifs to documenta 12 in this committee and confronting these, as the documenta 12 magazines are, with their own specific knowledge.


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