documenta X - home June 21 - September 28, 1997
About our Special
In accordance with our project »Universes in Universe« (see information) this Special concentrates on the presence of Africa, Asia, and the Americas in the documenta. We strongly believe that art from these regions should not be viewed separately or seen as a special »peripheral phenomenon« of the international art world. To begin with categorizing art according to the geographic location of the artist is a questionable practice. In fact, Catherine David sends the argument in this direction once again.

Heated discussions about the inclusion of artists from the »South« began during the last documenta. While some were thrilled that the door to the most important international art event had finally been opened to them, many others considered the number of included artists far too small.

It was to be expected that this issue would play an even greater role at the documenta X. The controversies in the cross-cultural debate during the past few years, along with the well-known special interest of the curator Catherine David for the arts of the »peripheries«, have raised expectations in the South. All the same, she claimed that in preparing for the dX, she was most interested in a » comprehensive survey and interpretation of the state of contemporary culture«.

The result is disappointing. To be sure, in »100 Days - 100 Guests« a relatively large number of filmmakers, writers, artists, philosophers, economists and architects etc. from Africa, Asia and Latin America have been given the spotlight. At the same time, David states that contemporary art is, in non-Western cultures, mainly but a »side-effect«, and the truly relevant cultural expressions are to be found foremost in music, oral and written language (literature, theatre), and cinema (see Statements and Commentary). Because of this, she included very few artists from these regions in her Parcours, the exhibition section of the dX.

We share David's view that she is not the UN (in her own words) and that, in this respect, there cannot be a fully equal representation of the entire globe. However, her concept does raise many questions. In our section entitled »Opinions«, we publish statements discussing this and the documenta itself. A link-list connects you to diverse reviews of the event.

The organizators devote little attention to information on participating artists. In response to a question in relation to the Web site, which could have been a extraordinary information source, we were told that the site was conceived as one of the dX's exhibition spaces, and not an info-stand. Not even a list of artists is to be found there. Therefore, we at least present the participants and the works which are of special interest to us in the context of our project.
Retrospective -
documenta IX
Jan Hoet wanted to look for interesting art outside of the »core«. Already in the preparatory phases, he claimed to have been successful. To the question of why he failed to include more »non-Western« artists, he answered that they are only important »for their own country and their own epoch, not in the general sense of an artistic language«.

Quotations / Commentaries


documenta X

At the press conference for the documenta X, Catherine David answered on the question of why more artists from the »Third World« were not represented: »... I have obviously wasted my time as well as yours. Please read my text. ... I do not wish to continue this discussion any further, as it appears to me to be quite absurd.«

We have read her texts. On this topic:

Statements, Commentary
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