documenta 8

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Admission ticket with the logo of documenta 8

The documenta 8 found from 12 June to 20 September 1987 again (after the documenta 6 in 1977) under the artistic direction Manfred Schneckenburger instead.

Originally, the management of the exhibition had been given to Harald Szeemann (who had also directed a documenta : die d5 in 1972) and Edy de Wilde . Differences in content and tensions between the two made implementation according to this concept impossible. Manfred Schneckenburger agreed to step in and organize the world exhibition of art in Kassel again.

The documenta 8 counted almost half a million (474,417) visitors and had finally become a major cultural event.

The focus of the d8 was on the artistic examination of war and violence, with utopias and at the same time with the loss of utopia. The interrelationships between art and architecture and design were highlighted. Video art and numerous performances took up a large part of the exhibition.

Exhibition locations

Museum Fridericianum , Orangery , Karlsaue , Renthof , entire urban space. The exhibition spread over the entire city area and the Karlsaue, including numerous outdoor works of art.

Works of art

Deutsche Post special stamp for Documenta X 1997 - Motif: Video wall by Nam June Paik for Documenta 8
Pavilion designed by Stefan Wewerka. The building is now in Münster.

The selection of works of art and artists was sometimes scolded by art critics as " arbitrary ". The d8 is " less an exhibition than a kaleidoscope of productions ". The audience saw it essentially differently.

While painting still took up a large space at documenta 7 , it was much less represented at d8. Video art (e.g. by Nam June Paik , Fabrizio Plessi , Marie-Jo Lafontaine and others) was very well represented. This presence, including that of (applied) design at the d8, is seen as an important contribution to art development, also in retrospect of this exhibition.

At the beginning of the d8, Wenzel Beuys, the son of Joseph Beuys , completed the “city foresting campaign” he started at Documenta 7 with 7,000 oaks by planting the last tree. Joseph Beuys himself planted 5,500 oaks during his lifetime, the campaign was continued posthumously.

Many outdoor works of art at documenta 8 deal with spatial interrelationships and references to urban space and the local architecture. Richard Serra's rusty steel plates disturbed pedestrians as a bulwark in the middle of Wilhelmsstraße, George Trakas invited with his staircases on the Königsplatz to take a different point of view. He anticipated the disputes with the staircase on Königsplatz a few years later.

Norbert Radermacher subtly ironized the general architecture of a parking garage by placing two small gray vases on the supports - like classic buildings. Tadashi Kawamata, on the other hand, provoked the people of Kassel and their handling of historical building fabric with a huge wooden skeleton (“Destroyed Church”) around the ruins of the garrison church.

The most photographed outdoor work of art was undoubtedly the guillotine series by Ian Hamilton Finlay , which he placed in the baroque axes of the Karlsaue and brought them into visual relationships ("A View to the Temple") to the park architecture. Beauty and cruelty in dialectical connection.

Architects were involved in the exhibition to present their concepts for museum buildings. The architects' models and interior designs were exhibited in the same way as the works of art. The reactions of the public and the art critics were rather reserved.

War and violence were themes in many works of art. Robert Longo addressed his concept of violence with a samurai room staging ("All You Zombies - Truth before God") and a huge sword-wielding figure, which, on closer inspection, was made up of hundreds of little toy soldiers.

The other extreme of the 8th documenta was the staging of design . Driven to extremes by Ange Leccia , with a dark blue Mercedes 300 CE in the middle of the orangery on a turntable, as if presented in a car showroom.

Hans Haacke, in turn, used the Mercedes as a symbol, the Mercedes star , to denounce the involvement of German industry and banks in what was then South Africa, which was shaped by apartheid.

The appearance of documenta 8 was diverse and ambivalent , aesthetic and at the same time provocative - in each case, reflection and discussion were stimulated and promoted not only on the fine arts, but also on social grievances and political issues.

Participating artists

Installation "Supportive measures presumptuous I" by Eberhard Bosslet

A total of 405 artists took part in the exhibition.

Works of art remaining in Kassel

  • documenta-Signet for the d8 by Karl Oskar Blase - Location: Garden of the private house of Karl Oskar Blase, Kuhbergstraße 47

Sources and literature

  • Schneckenburger, Manfred (ed.): Documenta - idea and institution: tendencies, concepts, materials. Munich 1983. ISBN 3-7654-1902-8
  • Zumpfe, Ralf / Schrader, Karin / Thiemann, Carsten: Architectural Guide Kassel 1900–1999. Kassel 1997. ISBN 3-87816-087-9
  • documenta 8 catalog: Volume 1: Articles; Volume 2: Catalog; Volume 3: artist book. Kassel 1987. ISBN 3-925272-13-5
  • Stehr, Werner / Kirschenmann, Johannes (eds.): Materials for documenta 8 - Red threads to artists, works and viewers. Kassel 1987
  • Kunstforum international, Volume 90 July – September 1987: documenta 8: Art on the test stand. Cologne 1987
  • “The avant-garde bathe in Plato's cave”, in: Der Spiegel , No. 23/1987
  • Kipphoff, Petra: "The high festival of arbitrariness", in: Die Zeit , No. 26, June 19, 1987
  • Cultural Office of the City of Kassel / documenta archive (ed.) / CIS GmbH (prod.); CD: Documenta 1-9 - A focus on four decades of exhibition history / Profiling four decades of exhibition history - 1955–1992 . Kassel / Würzburg 1997. ISBN 3-8932-2934-5

Web links

Commons : Documenta 8  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Petra Kipphoff: "The high festival of arbitrariness" , in: Die ZEIT, June 19, 1987