Introduction

The Myth of Documenta — Arnold Bode and His Heirs


Organiser: Central Academy of Fine Arts, Freie Universität Berlin
Curator: Klaus Siebenhaar, Yu Ding  
Duration: 1 March - 31 March 2017
Venue: Gallery 2B, CAFA Art Museum

The exhibition “The Myth of documenta — Arnold Bode and His Heirs” will be exhibited in CAFA Art Museum from 1 March to 31 March, 2017. As the first major cultural event for the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Germany, the exhibition will present more than 200 pieces of works and precious documents about documenta exhibitions.

documenta, periodically held in Kassel, Germany, reflects the history of the twentieth-century art. As a platform for presentation and discussion, documenta can be regarded as the forum and the bellwether of the aesthetic and social cultural developments since the modern era in the Western and international scope.

Based on documenta, this exhibition elaborates on various discussions about the social context of modern and contemporary art, including fierce confrontations and arguments, transformations and expansions, even a history of the transformation of the concepts of curatorial practices and art education. Even to this day, documenta still assumes the authority of the most important contemporary art exhibition in the world.

This exhibition, with a series of documentary materials, including images, texts and installations, not only presents a “myth” of documenta, but also explores the exclusive structural conditions, spirits and figures of the epoch. It narrates the history of such a big global art exhibition, while also presents a visual and touchable history of the development of concepts in art, including the evolution of its social contexts and the way it interacts with the society. As an institute and a mechanism, documenta raises a series of discussions on key issues, such as discourses, globalisation and the innovative and social functions of art. From this point, either to college students or art-lovers in the society, either professional or amateur audience, “the Myth of documenta” becomes an educational exhibition. To fully perform this function, the exhibition categorises the history of documenta into four sections, in combination with several topical rooms for deeper discussions. The exhibition aims to perform as a public educational laboratory, which connects the history and the contemporary narration, and to provide the general guidance for the audience, introducing the historical contexts and inviting the audience to raise their reflections. Specifically, the foundation of documenta is a lively instruction book for individual diligence, persistence and creativity. Arnold Bode, the “Father of documenta”, had always been faithful to his belief and duty, and finally realised his dream. Besides, the history of documenta also presents how an international art festival was bred in the small city Kassel, which wasn’t an art centre at all. In a word, “the Myth of documenta” tells stories about Arnold Bode, the founder of documenta, Kassel, the heavily damaged small city from the war, and their heirs.

Posters of documenta: