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The documenta archive stores thousands of unsolicited applications. While in 1972 a good 250 artists unsolicitedly and unsuccessfully applied to participate at documenta 5, there were already around 900 at documenta 7 and almost 1,500 at documenta 8.

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#11 About the dream of becoming a documenta artist. Lecture by Christian Saehrendt

28.11.2019

From the documenta archiv #11

 

Thursday, November 16, 2019, 6:30 pm

 

Venue: Fridericianum, Friedrichsplatz 18, 34117 Kassel

 

Admission free

 

Address of Welcome: Birgit Jooss, director of the documenta archiv

© documenta archiv

Hans Traxler: "I Monument" at Kassel Brothers Grimm Square

Over the years, the documenta archiv has kept thousands of unsolicited applications. While approximately 250 artists unasked and unsuccessfully inquired about participating in documenta 5 in 1972, this number rose to approximately 900 for documenta 7 and almost 1500 for documenta 8. 

 

In 1972, Harald Szeemann’s documenta 5 set a new trend with the format of the “thesis-driven exhibition”: curators selected works of art in order to make a cultural-political statement, to put forth a thesis on the current times. Generally, there were no open calls and it was exclusively the organizers of the exhibition who were active in contacting and inviting the artists. This tendency, which still remains in effect for documenta exhibitions and other biennials today, was established at a time when the “expanded concept of art” and participatory art indicated a broadening and democratization of the art world.

 

Who was sending these applications to documenta anyway? The clueless, the desperate, the bold? Or those who were taking the art world’s new openness seriously? Christian Saehrendt will provide insight into his research.

 

The speaker is a freelance art historian and author of numerous publications, including "Schneewittchen und der kopflose Kurator. Der Reiseführer für documenta-Besucher, Romantiker und Horrorfans [Snow White and the headless curator. The travel guide for documenta visitors, romantics and horror fans]" (Cologne 2017) or "Ist das Kunst oder kann das weg? Vom wahren Wert der Kunst [Is that art or can it be thrown away? On the true value of art]" (Cologne 2016).