Documenta 14 ¿Aprender de Atenas?

Documenta 14 tendrá lugar en dos ciudades. El pasado 8 de abril se inauguró en Atenas con el título Documenta 14: Aprender de Atenas. El próximo 10 de junio se inaugura en Kassel, donde estará abierta al público hasta el mes de septiembre.

La co-organización de la 14ª edición de Documenta entre Kassel y Atenas es una propuesta de Adam Szymczyk, director artístico de Documenta, quien explicó que el propósito de dicha decisión es «reflejar la situación actual en Europa y poner de relieve las tensiones palpables entre el norte y el sur». Szymczyk considera que la elección de Grecia se desmarca de los conflictos entre el país mediterráneo y Alemania y que su punto focal es su situación geográfica y la migración.

La inauguración en Atenas estuvo precedida por una serie de eventos que hacen parte del programa El Parlamento de los Cuerpos, a cargo de Paul B. Preciado, activista español que hace parte del equipo de Documenta 14. El primero de ellos fue Ejercicios de Libertad, el cual tomó forma en conversaciones, encuentros y performances con una variedad de artistas, académicos, activistas y pensadores como Naeem Mohaiemen, Candice Hopkins, Neni Panourgia, Judith Revel, Ana Longoni, Niillas Somby y Jack Halberstam.

Andreas Angelidakis, Antonio Negri, Paul B. Preciado, en la apertura de los Programas Públicos de documenta 14 en Parko Eleftherias, Atenas.

El programa adoptó un enfoque agresivamente político al integrar temas que van desde los regímenes dictatoriales hasta el activismo feminista y queer en un esfuerzo por no sólo redefinir la interpretación de la historia a través de una perspectiva contemporánea, sino también presentar propuestas aplicadas a términos como “libertad” y “democracia”. La intención era “introducir lenguajes contemporáneos de resistencia de la revolución kurda a las luchas locales” para reformar nuevas prácticas en un marco que no se planteaba “como una exposición ni una conferencia”, sino un “teatro político” ‘Invitó a construir activamente diariamente cuestionando ubicación, jerarquía, visibilidad y escala’.

Durante estos días se están publicando en los medios las notas informativas de rigor que presentan la muestra y destacan que inicia en Atenas. Vendrán luego las notas de revistas y medios especializados del mainstream del arte contemporáneo. Todos harán el tour por la versión griega de Documenta y quedarán a la espera de la segunda parte en Kassel.

Interesante conocer qué piensan los críticos y artistas de Atenas, pues el equipo de Documenta llegó a esta ciudad hace dos años y desde entonces ha venido preparando el terreno para la puesta en espacio del Parlamento de los Cuerpos, así como la muestra que se abrió hace unos días con la participación de ciento sesenta artistas.

Algunos críticos de la escena local han publicado varios artículos que dan cuenta de la propuesta de Paul B Preciado, resaltando sus fortalezas y reflexionando críticamente sobre el impacto inicial que tiene en la ciudad y el medio artístico local. La crítica Despina Zefkili escribe lo siguiente en Documenta 14, una reflexión antes de su apertura:

But this intention to draw interconnections between peripheral histories was soon tripped up by the fact that the majority of the interventions in documenta 14’s public programmes leaned towards a romanticised image of resistance. There was anthropologist Neni Panourgia’s talk ‘Chronotopes / Dystopic Geometries / Terrifying Geographies’, an emotionally charged oral and visual ‘tour’ from Parko Eleftherias to Makronisos (a prison island during the civil war and military dictatorship); and Angela Brouskou’s theatrical performance Epitafios II, bringing together Thucydides’s History of the Peloponnesian War and Cornelius Castoriadis’s The Problem of Democracy Today. In such cases as these, the framing of documenta 14’s public programmes was limited to a timeless fantasy drawn from ancient and contemporary myths, all satisfying the constructed image of Athens as the resisting subject par excellence in the struggle against the international collapse of democracy, dignity and the welfare state.
Instead of including works and interventions in the public programmes that touch on local histories in unexpected ways so as to resist superficial and stereotypical readings, the much discussed involvement with Greek history in ‘Parliament of Bodies’ was in many cases both overly sentimental and confident. Emphasis was placed on seductive images that reproduced easy meanings instead of activating fragile and fluid histories. A characteristic example is the Dictionary of Greek military junta LTI — Lingua Tertii Imperii by artist Daniel G. Andujar, the only publication created for the public programmes — a simplistic and superficial recording of the junta at best, created with archive images sometimes contrasted with images of ancient statues with visual similarities. Even the emphasis on the queer and trans subject — crucial in the context of Greek society, which has witnessed the rise of the extreme right and the canonisation of fascist and nationalistic discourses in the media and public sphere — has become less relevant and influential as a result of it being absorbed into a nostalgic mélange of historical resistance. [Ocula]

La periodista Luna Svarrer hace el siguiente reporte del primer evento del Parlamento de los Cuerpos, donde se hacen legibles las tensiones que ha producido la llegada de un evento de las dimensiones de Documenta 14 a una escena tan compleja como la de Atenas.

Documenta 14: What happens when the international art elite goes Greek?
The art elite goes Greek might be an overstatement. The international art elite, which followed documenta, might be in Athens; listening interested to the stories of torture in the Junta dictatorship, but the speakers and artists at the public program is more a melting pot, introducing stories from around the world: Chile, Norway, Canada, Armenia, Bangladesh and many more. In this case Norway seems as exotic as Greece.
Alexis Fidetzis, an artist living in Athens, expressed both excitements on documenta 14 placements in Athens as well as concerns, before the public program started. “I think it is great documenta is coming to Athens, that was my first thinking,” Alexis Fidetzis starts out. “But I have concerns, and they are two-fold” he continues, explaining the political tension in Greece, and how the program might spark nationalism, a flammable topic, without the documenta team even knowing.
The other concern addresses what happened earlier this year at Athens and Epidaurus festival, where the Belgian artist and curator Jan Fabre was the Artistic Director. To sum up, Jan Fabre resigned after local artists rebelled against his “plan to turn Greece’s major arts festival into ‘a tribute to Belgium’ and devote eight of the festival’s 10 productions to those from his homeland,” an article in The Guardian explains.
Por las calles de Atenas, junio de 2106
With this example within recent memory, Alexis Fidetzis is looking carefully how documenta is addressing the Athenian art milieu; if it is open, flexible, and dynamic. But he also highlights that ‘the Belgium case’ and the neglect of Greek artists raised nationalistic rhetorics — within the art world. Another perspective he fears.
“Because Fabre was clumsy, the reaction of the Greek artists was full of nationalistic rhetoric. And my fear is that documenta might bring similar reactions, or that in order to avoid those reactions, they will include some participants just so they won’t be called “colonialists” thus lowering their cultural product. Something I think would be unfair to the Athenian public,” he says.
Looking back at the days of documenta, Alexis Fidetzis is not entirely left without concerns, but in a general overlook, he sees the program as educational for the international audience.
“I don’t think the program was created for the Greek public, but more for the documenta public. Created so they will have an understanding of what is going on here.”
Do you think that is a problem?
“Not really. I think it is good that in some terms, they will understand the issues, and hopefully it can lead to a more contemporary, interesting documenta in 2017,” he answers.
What about documenta’s involving of Greek artist?
“I believe they are doing a good job, they have a team in Athens, who knows some artist — of course not everyone, but that is how it goes. On the other hand, I still think there will be a lot of fuzz over it,” he explains.
“What I really think documenta needs to address, having a anti-neoliberal standpoint, is how the left deals and debate the rise of the right wing, but I don’t see them doing that.
They read that the rise of the far right happens just because of neo-liberal politics, and I believe that is superficial. Greek society and education have for decades cultivated a culture of nationalism that in times of crisis has left the public vulnerable to rhetorics of hate. That is something that hopefully will be addressed by documenta in the future.” [texto completo aquí]

La crítica Maria Nicolacopoulou ofrece otra mirada en su texto Exercises of Freedom? A review of documenta 14’s Public Programs launch in Athens:

Ghanian artist Ibrahim Mahama performs “Check Point — Prosfygika” on the main Syntagma square in Athens on April 7, 2017 on the eve of the opening of the 14th edition of the Documenta 14 art exhibition (AFP)
Yet, despite the intentions behind the theoretical framework, a certain disconnect occurred when ideas were put into practice. In their opening statements, for example, both Adam Szymczyk, documenta 14’s artistic director, and Paul B. Preciado, underlined the significance of the terminology behind the title Parliament of Bodies in connection to the past and contemporary history of Athens, with referenced terms including ‘agora’ (assembly), ‘equality’, ‘dialogue’ and ‘participation’. These ideas attempted to initially manifest themselves through Andreas Angelidakis’ architecturally designed pseudo-ruins that were spread around the room serving as a moveable and modular seating arrangement in an effort to invoke ancient notions of applied democracy and prepare viewers for a discursive event, where the audience was supposed to play a key role.
Unfortunately, the well-intended idea and conceptual plan failed to correspond with its execution on a number of levels: the application of equality, dialogue and participation in the programme was left to theory, as opportunities for any kind of discursivity were limited to questions and answers at the end of each day’s events, and the option to voice one’s opinion after each presentation was non-existent. On an average day, a viewer might have to sit through lectures, a performance, and sometimes a ritual, which in total occupied on average four to five hours, rarely allowing time for discussion. Mostly, the core thematic of the entire programme was based on different formatted testimonies on torture and violence, many resembling lectures on group therapy, like artist Bonita Ely’s workshop on post-traumatic stress disorder which covered a day’s schedule.
Es interesante contrastar lo anterior con el texto curatorial de Paul B Preciado para Parliament of Bodies:
Inspired by micropolitical self-organizations, collaborative practices, and radical pedagogic and artistic experiments, the Parliament of Bodies is a critical device to queer both the exhibition and the Public Programs. It brings together artists, activists, theorists, performers, children, workers, migrants, etc. to experiment collectively on the conditions of a radical transformation of the public sphere, the construction of social bonds, and a multiplicity of heterogeneous forms of subjectivity beyond identity politics and national or state boundaries.
As an institutional structure, democracy has not been fully realized, and yet it already lies in ruins. Emerging from these remnants and counterfeits, the Parliament of Bodies is a productive parody, a queering of traditional political institutions, and the occasion for building a state-less, post-neoclassic heterotopia.
Pointing to its constitutive outside, the Greek notion of métoikos (meaning “those who change home,” from méto, “to change,” and oikos, “dwelling place,” and including both slaves and foreigners) becomes relevant to the Parliament of Bodies since it is made of visitors and migrants, travelers and refugees — occasionally or permanently lacking full political recognition in national and existing governmental parliaments.
The Parliament of Bodies is a place for cultural activism, a critical device for collectively imagining and constructing other ways of producing, reproducing and governing knowledge and life, visibility and affect, and implicating disenfranchised bodies, subjugated knowledges, and artistic practices. [texto completo aquí]

Sólo recordar que Documenta 14 apenas inicia y habrá que esperar un tiempo para ver si lo que estas críticas señalan se repite en esta primera fase de Documenta que abrió al público el pasado 8 de abril en Atenas.