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  6. documenta 14: Art as seismograph in our world

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documenta 14: Art as Seismograph in our World

Moving beyond borders

The visual arts are at the heart of documenta 14. But their diversity is boundless – as music, dance and theater, performances and debates play an important role especially in this year. Moving beyond borders - this concept also applies to the art project with Artvin, Calfino Sancho, Issy Kul, Paco and Hermes as protagonists. Now, right at this moment, they are crossing Europe on a journey spanning 3000 Kilometers. Who are these five? Horses. (picture: view of The Parthenon of Books, photo: Felix von Boehm)

In global terms, documenta is the most important exhibition of contemporary art. Every five years it presents the great issues shaping our present. Around 160 artists –renowned, new, and undiscovered ones – reveal their view on society.

In its 14th edition, documenta offers a premiere: for the first time, there is one exhibition in two cities. The international art exhibition opened at its traditional location in Kassel on June 10, while also launching at its partner site in Athens in the beginning of April. 

documenta is a seismograph for the state of our world. It shows where we are as human beings.

The long horse ride mentioned – the project of Scottish artist Ross Birrell – bridges the gap between the two locations. "We are drawing a connecting line through a number of countries in Europe", said Adam Szymczyk, artistic director of documenta 14, as riders and horses in Athens embarked on their tour.

The Volkswagen Group as main sponsor

One of the main sponsors of documenta 14 is the Volkswagen Group. "For Volkswagen, art is an irreplaceable part of a vibrant society", says Benita von Maltzahn, Head of Culture and Society at Volkswagen Group Communications. "We support documenta because it provides us with orientation, which can unlock great innovative power." (picture: Stanley Whitney, view of installation, documenta Halle, Kassel, documenta 14, photo: Roman März)

In addition to promoting the overall concept, Volkswagen is supporting a few artists in particular, including Ross Birrell: Volkswagen is providing the vehicles loaded with equipment and supplies, which accompany the riders and horses through Europe.

The story of documenta began in 1955. Millions of visitors have since become familiar with the vitality and impact of contemporary art. Benita von Maltzahn noted: "Volkswagen's international commitment is primarily aimed at project partners who offer access to culture to as many people as possible and convey its value – as is the case with documenta."

The artists of documenta 14 open up new perspectives on the world. "Their concepts and beliefs have the power to be groundbreaking for our future", emphasizes Benita von Maltzahn. Volkswagen is also presenting its concepts for the future: on the e-mobility shuttle, visitors to documenta 14 can experience electric vehicles from Volkswagen.

The plant in Kassel is the competence center for Volkswagen electric drives. Apprentices from this center helped Argentinean artist Marta Minujín build an impressive work of art at Friedrichsplatz in Kassel: The Parthenon of Books.

Here, at the center of documenta 14, 60.000 thousands of publications recreate the temple at the Acropolis of Athens. What the books have in common is that they were once forbidden or still are in some parts of the world. Against censorship, for freedom of expression – that is the message of this artwork.

Ross Birrell´s efforts are also about liberty. The long route followed by the riders and horses leads through Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, and Germany. On July 9, Paco, Hermes & Co should have achieved this lengthy journey when they reach Kassel – exactly one hundred days after setting out at the foot of the Acropolis.