Alexia Pooth, Exhibition Politics. The documenta and the GDR, Kerber 2024

A cooperation between the documenta archiv and the Hannah Arendt Institute for Totalitarianism Research, Dresden (HAIT).


On February 21, we will present a new publication in the documenta archiv's publication series, the volume "Exhibition Politics. The documenta and the GDR" by Alexia Pooth. On this occasion, we cordially invite you to a panel discussion with the author and the art critic Eduard Beaucamp.

on February 21, 2024
at 7 pm
in the rotunda of the Fridericianum

The East German art critic Lothar Lang described the 1959 documenta as a "monster show" - a judgment that reflects the cultural-political tensions between the two German states. What image did artists and cultural functionaries in East Berlin, Dresden and Rostock have of documenta and, conversely, how did the curatorial teams view the GDR? In their study Exhibition Politics. The documenta and the GDR, Alexia Pooth reconstructs this special chapter of Kassel's exhibition history. The author traces a history of reception and perception in which there was always an exchange of ideas despite political frontlines. The content ranges from the founding of the documenta in 1955 to Catherine David's documenta 10 in 1997.


In addition to historical analyses, the volume offers a diverse compilation of documents, artist portraits and photo series. Interviews with contemporary witnesses such as Eduard Beaucamp, Gudrun Brüne-Heisig, Gabi Dolff-Bonekämper, Hans Eichel, Achim Freyer, Klaus Honnef, Gabriela Ivan, Jürgen Schweinebraden and Volker Stelzmann make this an entertaining read.

Eduard Beaucamp, born in Aachen in 1937, visited the documenta as a schoolboy in 1955. After studying literature, art history and philosophy, he took over as head of the art section of the FAZ in 1966. He always had the documenta in mind, but not only, because he met the painter Werner Tübke in Leipzig in 1968, whose art and the art of Bernhard Heisig and Wolfgang Mattheuer he championed early on in the Federal Republic. The Leipzig School is still important to him today: Beaucamp, who regularly visited the GDR, has published numerous books in recent years, including, in collaboration with Annika Michalski, Tübke's diaries.


Alexia Pooth is an associate researcher at the documenta archiv and the Hannah Arendt Institute for Totalitarianism Research in Dresden (HAIT). She has been a research associate at the Leibniz Center for Contemporary History Potsdam (ZZF) since 2023.Her research focuses on theories of space and authorship, landscape and visual culture. After several years at the Bauhaus Foundation in Dessau, she worked from 2019 to 2021 as a research assistant at the German Historical Museum in Berlin on the conception and realization of the exhibition "documenta. Politics and Art".