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The dOCUMENTA (13) was the thirteenth edition of Documenta , one of the world's most important exhibitions for contemporary art . It took place from June 9 to September 16, 2012 in Kassel under the artistic direction of Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and had 904,992 visitors. The exhibition was under the motto Collapse and Recovery ( English for collapse and reconstruction ). The exhibition satellites were located in Afghanistan with Kabul and Bamiyan (June 9 to September 16, 2012), in Egypt with Alexandria and Cairo (June 1 to July 8, 2012) and Banff, Canada (August 2 to August 15 , 2012) 2012).

The documenta management published the names of over 300 participants. Of these, 187 artists and artist groups contributed to the exhibition with all forms of artistic expression, such as pictures , prints , sculptures , performances , installations , films and environments . Another 108 participants were involved through lectures, seminars, congresses, poetry readings or writings in the Documenta series 100 Notes - 100 Thoughts .

Museum Fridericianum with dOCUMENTA (13) flags

Management team

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (2010)

The American curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev was selected as artistic director , she was chief curator of the Castello di Rivoli - Museo di Arte Contemporanea in Turin and in 2008 she was also director of the Biennale of Sydney .

The project manager is the art historian Christine Litz . It is her responsibility to implement the concepts of the director Carolyn Christov-Barkagiev and her curators. From June 2012 Litz was appointed director of the Museum of New Art (Freiburg im Breisgau) and Jenny Dirksen and Christoph Platz took over the management of the department and the handling of the exhibition. The curatorial department was taken over by the Spanish art historian Chus Martínez . She is also co-editor of the series 100 Notes - 100 Thoughts . Before she became curator at the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona in 2009 , she was director of the Frankfurter Kunstverein .

The German author and journalist Bettina Funcke, who lives in New York, has been named head of the publications department . She is also co-editor of the series 100 Notes - 100 Thoughts . She was an editor at the Dia Art Foundation (now Dia Center for the Arts) until 2007, and editor-in-chief for the New York edition of the art magazine Parkett from 2007 to 2010 . She is the co-founder of The Leopard Press and the Continuous Project collective. Hatje Cantz Verlag was commissioned to publish the fonts .

The communications department was headed by Kathrin Lutz until September 2011. In October 2011 they replaced Terry Harding and Henriette Gallus.

The managing director of the documenta und Museum Fridericianum Veranstaltungs-GmbH Bernd Leifeld has been responsible for the organizational handling since 1996 .

The exhibition was opened on June 9, 2012 by Federal President Joachim Gauck .

Finding committee

On December 3, 2008, the selection process for the artistic direction of the upcoming documenta was completed. The proposal of the nine-member search committee was unanimously confirmed by the documenta supervisory board. The documenta 13 search committee consisted of:

Information signs in front of the Fridericianum
101 013–1 of Deutsche Bahn AG with advertising in Mannheim main station on March 14, 2012

In April 2010, the “visual identity” of the 13th documenta was presented. It was developed by the Milan-based graphic design agency Leftloft . This documenta dispenses with a traditional logo. Instead, the spelling of the word is used as a symbol. The name is written at the beginning with a small d , the following letters are capital letters, followed by the 13 in brackets. There was no uniform font , this varied depending on the application.

The graphic designers wrote about their design:

“This visual rule is meant to say that the teachings of this documenta (the Latin 'documentum', from which the plural word 'documenta' comes from, means 'teaching' and, on occasion, it also means 'admonition') will not be pedantic. Rather, we set a lively, pluralistic, imaginative and steadily increasing development in motion. Many, including the public, will be involved in this process in the years to come. The climax, in 2012, is only a moment of a much longer journey, which is made clear by the brackets around thirteen. "

The artistic director, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, referred to the documenta's tradition of lower case letters since its inception in the 1950s and noted:

“While this was a radical democratic gesture and a design choice in its early days, the non-capitalization of words is now an example of one of many unintentional gestures in the digital world, sending messages across networks and around the globe. Reversing the normal spelling rules by writing the rest of the word in capital letters requires active commitment, attention and a certain amount of extra work on the keyboard. "


The leitmotif of dOCUMENTA (13) is collapse and recovery (Engl. Collapse and Recovery ). It was officially presented around a year before the exhibition opened. On the one hand, it refers to the history of the city of Kassel over the past 60 years, during which the reconstruction, which has not yet been completed, took place after it was destroyed by bombing in World War II. Several works, such as the trail project by Natascha Sadr Haghighian, refer directly to the leitmotif. The artist places a ladder on the boundary wall of the Schöne Aussicht street , via which the visitors reach a steep slope that was piled up in 1955 from the ruins of the Henschel works . A narrow, unpaved and not harmless path leads over it to the valley floor of the Karlsaue. On the other hand, virulent, is the leitmotif for the exhibition location Kabul , which was expanded there to include the conditions of state of siege, hope, retreat and stage .


On June 21, 2010, two years before the opening of dOCUMENTA (13), the first work was inaugurated publicly - contrary to usual practice. The sculpture Idea di Pietra (“Views of a Stone”) by Giuseppe Penone , a representative of Arte Povera and multiple documenta participant, was set up on the edge of the Karlsaue . The work had already been presented at the 16th Biennale of Sydney , which Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev curated in 2008. It is an almost nine meter high bronze sculpture in the shape of a tree, in the upper part of which a large stone rests. A small, real, young tree grows next to the sculpture. Penone was present himself and presented his work:

“[...] If the meaning of painting is to cover and the meaning of sculpture is to discover , then painting is characterized by gravity and sculpture by the force that escapes gravity, the power of light. The work I'm showing here has to do with both concepts. The stone is a mineral and the most stable colors are obtained from stones. The stone refers to gravity. Vegetables evade gravity, they grow upwards as a direct result of sunlight. The structure of the vegetable world is determined by the light that attracts the weight of the branches and leaves. Bronze casting needs gravity and uses the structure of the plant world to distribute the liquid bronze in the casting mold. [...] "

The day of the summer solstice was deliberately chosen as the date for the event. Those responsible saw the action as a contribution to the history of the outdoor sculpture in the context of the documenta exhibitions and saw in it in particular also a preparation for the official opening taking place in two years.

On June 9, 2012, then Federal President Joachim Gauck opened the art exhibition.

Participating artists

Giuseppe Penone's Idea di Pietra

Exhibition locations

The dOCUMENTA (13) includes exhibition locations throughout the city of Kassel and the surrounding area, as well as locations outside of Europe. In Kassel, works of art can be seen in so many different places than in any other documenta before. In addition to public buildings such as the Chamber of Crafts, the Central Library and the Ständehaus, private cinemas, department stores and hotels were also included. Most of the artist presentations are concentrated around Friedrichsplatz, the Kulturbahnhof (main train station) and in the Karlsaue.

Exhibition locations in Kassel and the surrounding area:

  • The Museum Fridericianum is again the focus of the Documenta with works by 32 artists. In addition, 28 plastic works or artificial objects are shown in the rotunda, among others by Judith Hopf , Man Ray and Lawrence Weiner .
  • In addition to early drawings by Gustav Metzger , which are presented concealed in showcases in the vestibule, the documenta hall is mainly characterized by works by Thomas Bayrle . Between an 8 x 25 meter cardboard relief Carmageddon on the left wall and the 8 x 13.4 meter airplane from 1982 to 1983, the artist set up car engines cut open. The noise of the seven motors is accompanied by monotonous, repetitive prayers from loudspeakers, which Bayrle recorded and made rhythmic in Frankfurt churches. It is the largest single presentation that has ever been seen in the documenta hall.
  • Ottoneum
  • Karlsaue
  • 18 artistic positions are exhibited in the Neue Galerie . In her front room, the artist Andrea Büttner shows two monochrome color surfaces, three archaic, large-format woodcuts , in the second room she shows, among other things, a video that relates to extensive research on the work of the Little Sisters of Jesus in the amusement park of Ostia near Rome and where two members of the order report on their work.
  • Kassel main train station
  • As with Documenta 12 , the Gloria Cinema is the screening location for the film program. A slide installation by Trisha Donnelly is shown during the day .
  • Former Elisabeth Hospital (Oberste Gasse 4)
  • Mosque never built (Untere Karlsstrasse 14)
  • In the lightless Bode-Saal of the Grand City-Hotel Hessenland , Tino Sehgal shows a highly acclaimed performance. The entering visitors are surrounded by 12 actors, individually or in small groups, who dance around audibly and perceptibly singing, humming, crawling, clicking in a choreographically defined basic rhythm and trying to include those who have entered the event.
  • former cinema cascade
  • Various locations in downtown Kassel
  • Breitenau Monastery Memorial in Guxhagen

Further exhibition locations:

  • Kabul and Bamiyan in Afghanistan
  • Alexandria and Cairo in Egypt
  • At the beginning of August 2012 at the Banff Center in Canada , The Retreat (retreat, retreat) was a two-week seminar in which authors, curators and artists - including participants in dOCUMENTA (13) - came together to exchange opinions and ideas and to listen to Lectures met. The participants included - in addition to chief curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev - the artists Pierre Huyghe, Brian Jungs and Claire Pentecost. The Banff Center was organized by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Kitty Scott, Imre Szeman and Heather Zwicker.

Dispute in advance

The sculpture in the tower of St. Elisabeth's Church during dOCUMENTA (13)

Even before the opening, in May 2012, there was a dispute between Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and the diocese of Fulda over a sculpture that Stephan Balkenhol had put up as part of an exhibition on the steeple of St. Elisabeth's Church on Friedrichsplatz in Kassel . The sculpture, a black and white clad figure with outstretched arms stands on a gold-colored sphere, resembles the Christian spherical cross in its silhouette . Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev on the one hand emphasized the artistic quality of the work of art, but on the other hand saw the danger that it could be perceived as a work of art of dOCUMENTA (13) in this prominent location and thus disrupt the documenta exhibition, in which the human figure is not central Position. The work of art “bothers a lot. The artistic director feels threatened by this figure who has nothing to do with documenta (13), ”said documenta managing director Bernd Leifeld. The art critic Niklas Maak said that Christov-Bakargiev was "[...] disgruntled by this somewhat childish gesture of dominance that is part of a tradition of clerical image control maneuvers". Regardless, the church stuck to the Balkenhol installation.

The documenta management is said to have prevented an installation by the artist Gregor Schneider parallel to the documenta. Schneider wanted to install the remains of a festival in Calcutta in the Karlskirche in Kassel. After an intervention by Christov-Bakargiev, the project group of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) withdrew this plan. Gregor Schneider told the Rheinische Post: “The behavior of the 'documenta' is just shameful and leaves me speechless.” A measure like the one that the documenta enforces can otherwise “probably only be realized in a small Chinese town.” “Artistic and there have been economic free riders in all the documenta years, of course, ”said the magazine Kunstforum in its current online edition.



Visitors queue in front of the entrance
Accompanying publications of DOCUMENTA (13)

The event is accompanied by numerous official publications that were published by the "documenta und Museum Fridericianum Veranstaltungs-GmbH" and whose book trade edition was published by Hatje Cantz Verlag in Ostfildern.

The volume presents the positions of the Documenta in essays by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Chus Martínez and brings together “artistic projects and the core themes of dOCUMENTA (13).” At the same time, the book contains the entire publication series 100 Notes - 100 Thoughts and describes in an appendix of all works of art exhibited at dOCUMENTA (13).
The book, which was begun in 2010 and is extensively illustrated, documents the development of the events in text and images and provides an insight into the curator's work.
  • dOCUMENTA (13). The accompanying book / The Guidebook. Catalog 3/3., 2012, ISBN 978-3-7757-2954-3 .
  • dOCUMENTA (13). 100 notes - 100 thoughts , series of publications


Web links

Commons : Documenta 13  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. 13 - Documenta. In: Retrieved November 22, 2019 .
  2. Secret revealed: “Collapse and Reconstruction” becomes the documenta leitmotif. In: . July 2, 2011, accessed May 20, 2020.
  3. Süddeutsche Zeitung of December 7, 2009: The new boss is now joined by a new project manager: Christine Litz ( Memento from December 13, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  4. System Administrator: Freiburg: Museum of New Art: Freiburg City Council elected Christine Litz to head - RegioTrends .
  5. documenta13: dOCUMENTA (13) .
  6. dOCUMENTA (13) is pleased to have won Hatje Cantz Verlag as a partner for all publications. In: March 17, 2010, archived from the original on November 22, 2019 ; accessed on November 22, 2019 .
  7. documenta13: dOCUMENTA (13) .
  8. documenta13: dOCUMENTA (13) .
  9. Gauck opens documenta: “Art can wake us up”. In: June 9, 2012, accessed November 22, 2019 .
  10. Section and quotations from the dOCUMENTA press release (13) of April 19, 2010, online at, accessed on June 21, 2010 ( Memento from May 1, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  11. d13path. In: Retrieved December 2, 2019 .
  12. Andrea Viliani: Kabul - Bamiyan . In: The accompanying book, Documenta 13, Hatje Cantz, 2012, p. 456
  13. Section and quotations from the dOCUMENTA press release (13) from May 27, 2010, online at, and from June 21, 2010, online at, accessed on June 24, 2010 ( Memento from June 25, 2010 in Internet Archive )
  14. Maps. (PDF; 1.2 MB) In: Archived from the original on August 2, 2012 ; accessed on November 22, 2019 .
  15. Michael Hierholzer: Machine rhythm and meditation . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of June 6, 2012, p. 37
  16. Konstanze Krüwell: Modest luck in the amusement park . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung from July 1, 2012, p. R5
  17. Karlheinz Schmid : Changing sides - Tino Sehgal's dark secret . In: Kunstzeitung , August 2012 edition, p. 7
  18. World art exhibition documenta in Kassel - HNA .
  19. documenta13: dOCUMENTA (13) . Archived from the original on March 6, 2015. Retrieved March 13, 2012.
  20. CCLA The Retreat: A Position of dOCUMENTA (13) Banff Research in Culture 2012, accessed on February 21, 2019 (English)
  21. dOCUMENTA (13) has its excitement .
  22. Media vortex - sculpture on the tower of St. Elisabeth: "We are angry about this disrespect". Press release from . In: May 9, 2012, accessed August 12, 2020 .
  23. Niklas Maak: Do people have to go? . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of May 19, 2012, p. 33
  24. documenta is bothered by Balkenhol sculpture - Welt-online on May 9, 2012, accessed on May 15, 2012, 12:30 pm
  25. Art prevents art, hr-online, May 15, 2012, accessed on May 16, 2012, 12:38 pm ( Memento from December 8, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  26. ^ Dispute in Kassel. In: Kunstforum online, accessed on May 19, 2012
  27. Art's Home is my Kassel. kunst + film, accessed on September 26, 2017 .
  28. dOCUMENTA (13) Catalog 1/3 - The Book of Books. In: . Retrieved November 29, 2019 .