(Apologies for forgetting to upload this last week)
After the Unconference on Saturday, February 14th , I was amazed by how successful the day had been. The setup and running of a pair programming format was extremely useful for shaping my ideas while receiving input from fellow students. It allowed me to finally start narrowing down a topic, though there still is a great way to go, and engage with many of the questions produced by my topic.
Initially my proposal for a topic centered around dOCUMENTA 11, an international contemporary art exhibition in 2002 that was organized around themes of migration and globalization with the aim of creating a borderless space and “becoming transnational subjects” in a post-colonial age. Konrad raised the relevant issue that this topic is perhaps too contemporary to have any historical significance yet, and I agreed that it had been one of my concerns. At his suggestion I turned to the earlier workings of the exhibition, created in Kassel, 1955, as a way of analyzing the contemporary issues and identity of the exhibition but within a historically turbulent time. Essentially I’m using the same approach to contemporary art but within a more historical setting.
The 1955 premiere of Documenta, which to this day remains one of the foremost international contemporary art exhibitions, emerged in the post-war, post-Nazi era as a response to the enforced anti-modernist Nazi hegemony. Social realism reigned during the years 1933-1945 and suppressed expressions of individuality and political statements within art. Documenta was conceived as a way to reconnect German identity to modern art/international modernity and remove it from its Nazi past. Eurocentrism prevailed before and during the war, but Documenta 1 sought to create a sphere within which art was able to connect international ideas beyond favoured Eurocentric works. Though the details of the exhibition have to be fleshed out, future research and questions to be asked that will situate this exhibition as a transnational subject matter include determining where the featured artists were from – are they migratory? What is the interplay between West and East German subjects? How was this exhibition reconnecting German peoples with international contacts? In addition, specifically what artistic influences are on display in the work premiered? What cultures and societies are being represented? How successful is the exhibition in reconciling German identity with international modernity?
That is the first paragraph from my writing as the “driver” in the pair programming, which I think presents a broad set of questions needing to be addressed by my further research. The exhibition functions as an entry point into the transnational, and within that sphere I will aim to determine how vital the exhibition was to West Germany’s reintegration into the West.
dOCUMENTA 11: http://www.documenta11.de/archiv/d11/data/english/index.html
dOCUMENTA 1: http://www.biennialfoundation.org/biennials/documenta/