Issue 33 / June 2017
ed. Nanne Buurman, Dorothee Richter

documenta: Curating the History of the Present

On the occasion of documenta’s 14th edition, this special issue scrutinizes the ways in which the Kassel-based periodic exhibition has been contributing to curating the history of the present since its inception in 1955. From diverse perspectives, the authors engage with questions of how documenta’s iterations played a significant role not only in the making of a history of contemporary art but also in the canon of the relatively young field of curatorial and exhibition studies. Focusing on documenta’s engagement with artistic and broader cultural developments, as well as its implication in shifting socioeconomic and geopolitical contexts, the texts assembled in this issue touch upon documenta’s continuous dedication to instituting and reconfiguring the contemporary throughout its history. Its characteristic dedication to contemporaneity and institutional temporariness have continuously challenged researchers to reflect and revise their methodologies and epistemological foundations. Due to documenta’s specific character as a recurring large-scale exhibition with a relatively stable framework that has to be reinterpreted anew every five years, documenta’s potentials for mediating ideologies and power structures, notions of authorship and agency, as well as relations between the local and the global have furthermore fueled negotiations of the relationship of art and politics from the outset. The texts in this issue call attention to how it not only scripted paradigmatic models of subjectivity but also gradually widened its scope from a Eurocentric vision to a more worldly frame of reference, provoking reflections on its role in the globalization of the arts and its entanglement in (neo)colonial and (neo)liberal power relations in capitalism at large.

Table of Contents

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