After visiting "Intense Proximity," the Okwui Enwezor-curated Paris triennial at the Palais de Tokyo in June, I headed to Kassel, Germany, for another gigantic exhibition, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev's dOCUMENTA 13. Both large projects (each features over 130 artists), came with equally ambitious yet self-reflexive catalogues.
In dOCUMENTA's Guidebook, Christov-Bakargiev sets out the parameters of a show that extends beyond its traditional venues (the Fridericianum, the documenta-Halle) to dozens of temporary sites throughout Kassel and locations in Kabul, Alexandria and Banff. In the introduction, the curator explains, "an exhibition is always the act of locating artworks and bodies producing an understanding of the role of partiality, of the importance of engaging with a site and, at the same time, producing a polylogue with other places." This contingency is spatial but also temporal, she says: "A place of no fixed thing; it has an episodic history and takes its particular aspect through an intense immersion."
Early in June, I traveled with much of the art world to Europe to gorge on the buffets of biennials, triennials and quinquennials. Before heading to Kassel and Berlin, I began my trip in Paris to visit "Intense Proximity," the third edition of the city's contemporary art triennial.
The exhibition brings together the work of more than 130 international artists from the past century, from Wifredo Lam (b. Cuba, 1902) to Mihut Boscu (b. Romania, 1986). Its curatorial agenda is to articulate variety in a globalized age, where worldwide cultures no longer feel distant or remote—that is, a state of intense proximity. The curator employed the lens of ethnography to make sense of this phenomenon.
Two slide carousels, 80 slides each, approx. 9-minute loop. Courtesy Callicoon Fine Arts, New York.