documenta fifteen in Kassel

Documenta’s debut project, born from an idea by ​​Arnold Bode (1900-1977), was a way of trying to link West Germany, still torn by the wounds of the Second World War, to the Western world, and to anchor the idea of ​​the rebirth of contemporary visual culture. This project, originally a four-year term, started in 1955, has excessively grown over the years, involving internationally renowned curators. We recall the names of the most recent curators: Rudi Fuchs (1982, with 182 invited artists and 378.691 declared visitors), Manfred Schneckenburger (1987, with 150 invited artists and 474.417 declared visitors), Jan Hoet (1992, 189 invited artists and 603.456 declared visitors), Catherine David (1997, 120 invited artists and 628.776 declared visitors), Okwui Enwezor (2002, 118 invited artists and 650.924 declared visitors), Roger Martin Buergel (2007, 114 invited artists and 754.391 declared visitors), Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (2012, 187 invited artists and 860.000 declared visitors), Adam Szymczyk (2017, with the branch in Athens, with 163 artists and a total of 1.230.500 declared visitors). Obviously, keeping up with this rhythm and these comparisons is not an easy thing: the challenge is always an uphill path, above all to continue the progressive growth of visitors. Of course, we can already say that breaking through the budget again, at the level of millions of euros, as in the last edition, cannot happen again.

The edition of documenta fifteeen will take place in Kassel, in multiple locations, starting from 18th June to 15th September 2022. It will be curated by ruangrupa, an unusual group of artists and creatives based in Indonesia. The ruangrupas were born in 2000 in Jakarta, where the collective manages an artistic space and carries out exhibitions, festivals, publications and radio formats; it is no coincidence that the Indonesian word “rangruapa” can be translated as “a space for art”. The collective has participated in numerous international biennials: Gwangju (2002 and 2018), Istanbul (2005), Singapore (2011), Sao Paolo (2014) and the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (2012); it was also among the protagonists of “Cosmopolis # 1: Collective Intelligence”, an exhibition held in 2017 at the Center Pompidou in Paris, which investigated collective practice in contemporary art in emerging countries. Also, in 2017, the ruangrapas participated in documenta 14 with their online radio station as a partner of Soun’s Every Time a Ear radio project, which brought together eight worldwide radio stations.

The list of authors invited to the fifteenth edition of documenta is greedy and the exhibition promises contents in line with the times we are living: relational, or dialogic, art; social, ecological, political engagement groups; a 360° review with a privileged gaze turned to the authors from the so called Third World; environmental works in situ or in progress; multidisciplinary artistic interventions.

The list of invited artists was published on Asphalt, the street magazine based in Hanover, which is part of the Insp network (International Network of Street Paper) and which works on these objectives: to provide social information on delicate and often uncomfortable issues, and give work to destitute and homeless people. This choice is perfectly in line with the theme of the next documenta, Lumbung, which in Indonesian means “rice granary”, such as food for everyone and not just for those who manage to get rich, exploiting others. Here is the thought of the curators: “We want to create an artistic and cultural-oriented, cooperative and interdisciplinary platform, that can have an impact beyond the hundred days of documenta 15. We aim for a different model of community-oriented use of resources, not just economic, but also taking into consideration ideas, knowledge, programs and innovations. If in 1955 documenta was launched to heal the wounds of war, today we must focus the exhibition on today’s wounds, especially those rooted in colonialism, in capitalism or in the patriarchal structures, in order to contrast them with models based on partnership that allow people to have a different World vision”.

In other words, we can commendably speak of a committed exhibition, aimed at social issues, at the problems of contemporaneity, at the living dramas of our historical moment, at the peripheries of the world, at the disaster that presents itself to our eyes every day.

These are the invited artists (the list, however, is not definitive): ikkibawiKrrr, ook_reinaart vanhoe, Richard Bell, Taring Padi, Wakaliwood, Arts Collaboratory, Black Quantum Futurism, Chimurenga, Jumana Emi l Abboud, Nino Bulling, Agus Nur Amal PMTOH, Subversive Film, Cinema Caravan und Takashi Kuribayashi, Kiri Dalena, Nguyen Trinh Thi, Safdar Ahmed, Sakuliu, Atis Rezistans / Ghetto Biennale, Marwa Arsanios, Sourabh Phadke, Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh, * foundationClass * collective, Another Roadmap Africa Cluster (ARAC), Archives des luttes des femmes en Algérie, Asia Art Archive, Center d’art Waza, El Warcha, Graziela Kunsch, Keleketla! Library, Komîna Fîlm in Rojava, Sada (regroup), Siwa plateforme – L’Economat at Redeyef, The Black Archives, Baan Noorg Collaborative Arts and Culture, Dan Perjovschi, Fehras Publishing Practices, Nhà Sàn Collective, The Nest Collective, Hamja Ahsan, Jimmie Durham, La Intermundial Holobiente, Pinar Öğrenci ‘, Saodat Ismailova, Amol K Patil, BOLOHO, Cao Minghao & Chen Jianjun, CHANG En-man, Sa Sa Art Projects, Alice Yard, Erick Beltrán, LE 18, MADEYOULOOK, Party Office b2b Fadescha, Serigrafistas queer.

Fabio Fabris


various artists, documenta fifteen
18/06/2022 – 25/09/2022
many headquarters, Kassel 

ruangrupa, Ajeng Nurul Aini, Farid Rakun, Iswanto Hartono, Mirwan Andan, Indra Ameng, Ade Darmawan, Daniella Fitria Praptono, Julia Sarisetiati, Reza Afisina, 2019. Ph. Gudskul Jin-Panji, courtesy documenta fifteen

ruruHaus, one of the headquarters of documenta fifteen, Kassel, 2021. Ph. Nicolas Wefers, courtesy documenta fifteen

ruangrupa and Artistic Team, 2019. Ph. Nicolas Wefers, courtesy documenta fifteen

Lumbung members cassettes, 210131, Indra Ameng (one of ruangrupa’s member). Courtesy documenta fifteen


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