In my role as an a-n AIR Councillor, I was privileged to be offered a travel bursary to go to either the Venice Biennale or Documenta this year. I chose Documenta, but then decided that, as I had never been to either, this was a perfect opportunity to go to both! So I paid for my own trip to Venice and joined my colleagues there for three days of exhibitions, openings, speeches and free prosecco. The Biennale is a crazy carnival of art – a triumphant display of wealth, privilege and ambition which is as intoxicating as it is exhausting. My recommendations for sound art pieces to see and hear were published on a-n news.
By contrast, Documenta, which happens every 5 years, is a more contained and less sprawling event, with the focus of Documenta #14, squarely on political issues of the day – migration, borders, openness (or the lack of it), cultural identity, fascism. I felt more at home amongst this work than I did amongst the spectacle of Venice, although I would say that I had the more memorable art experiences in Venice.
For an artist looking to move their work out onto the international stage, both of these flagship shows can seem overwhelming. I felt strangely encouraged however, in the knowledge that my work is of a sufficient standard to sit alongside *most* of what I saw in Kassel and Venice. (I’m not that arrogant that I would put my work up there with some of the giants of the art world quite yet.) Now the challenge is to find, court and hound (!!!) the curators/gallerists who are the cultural gatekeepers to these impenetrable showcases.
What follows are two slideshows and a collage of iPhone recordings from Documenta.