Artist Ella de Burca visited documenta 14 in Athens in April 2017. These are her visual and textual reflections on what she found there, connecting to the art and the political situation.
VIEW OF ATHENS FROM EMST
The shadow city,
Everywhere we go
The Acropolis is there,
Condescending to us from its hill.
As the plane hovered
We considered hospitality.
Athens hosting Documenta 14
Documenta 14 hosting us.
VIEW OF ATHENS FROM MICHAEL LANDY'S EXHIBITION BREAKING NEWS.
When Odysseus landed on the island of the Cyclops’
He saw cheese, and wine
And presumed they would be hospitable to him.
Extreme difficulties in navigation were forgiven
By many pilgrims
Because it shouldn’t be easy.
It was hard to distinguish responses inside the art environment,
To responses outside.
In many ways, there was no difference,
And I guess,
That’s a success.
I considered art’s limits in the face of crisis,
Our limits when looking at art with an anthropological gaze,
How this gaze boiled over into Athens’ city-scape.
And what a disastrous a situation we are in.
We looked down on descriptions of artists’ work,
Printed fabric, resting on the floor
Anchored by marble blocks with the artists’ names on them.
Going to a talk by the founders of e-flux,
Totally enthralled as they presented Time-Bank
Their investigation into ‘alternative economic models,’
And then cringing as they dodged questions
About monetizing their brand,
And the whole ‘dot art’ saga.
Visiting the Archeological Museum,
I asked a friend to photograph me while I stood beside Paris,
Copying his pose.
The wall-text said he was either holding the severed head of Medusa
Or giving the apple to Aphrodite,
But no one knows as the thing he held has long since disappeared.
Bemused by this correlation, and our inability to fully ascertain his intention,
I raised my hand like his.
A guard intervened,
‘No mimicking,’ he demanded.
In the confusion I think he’s angry cause he thinks I am giving a Fascist sign.
‘Mimicking?’ I queried, confused. ‘The statue?’
‘Yes. It’s disrespectful.’
Rushing by crowds of homeless people to see Alvin Lucier.
My bones shivering as Kettly Noël’s zombie ballet performers hoisted rag dolls by the neck to the top of bamboo poles.
KETTLY NOEL ZOMBIFICATION. THE CONSERVATOIRE. DOCUMENTA 14.
Seeing the head of an Aphrodite from 330BC in the Archeology Museum with a Christian Cross violently scratched into her marble forehead.
Geography-Athens piece in EMST,
Walking around and around a large walled space,
Knowing there could be a performance happening inside,
Knowing I will never get to see it,
But walking around it anyway,
And thinking about that.
EMST. DOCUMENTA 14
Searching for Epicycle by Jani Christou, and not finding it. I learned later that it was not a ‘performed piece,’ rather, a listening to your environment piece.
DOCUMENTA 14 WEBSITE
Finding this poster in few locations around Athens:
Ella for DRAFF
documenta 14 runs across Athens until the 16th July 2017, and in Kassel, Germany from the 10th June until the 17th September.
Posted: 25th April 2017