At today’s meetings, the Supervisory Board and shareholders of documenta und Museum Fridericianum gGmbH decided that documenta fifteen can take place in Kassel as planned from June 18 to September 25, 2022. The committees reported comprehensively on the feasibility of the exhibition in light of developments regarding the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the infrastructural challenges and variables influencing the realization of the curatorial concept.
Since spring 2020, the planning of documenta fifteen has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and has already required numerous adaptations. For example, the worldwide studio visits and working meetings with the Artistic Direction and international artists and groups took place exclusively in the digital space for almost a year and a half. The mutual exchange and site-specific development of projects, which are important to the concept of ruangrupa, were thus rendered more difficult. Nevertheless, planning is progressing, both in terms of the selection of individual exhibition venues and the preparations of artistic positions. Safety and hygiene are a constant consideration—from the choice of sufficiently large indoor and outdoor locations to digital solutions for guiding visitors and supporting the visitor experience. ruangrupa’s curatorial concept, which is based on a comprehensive approach to sustainability, accommodates these developments so that in many respects new things can emerge from the crisis.
Commenting on the decision, Chairman of the Supervisory Board and Lord Mayor of the City of Kassel, Christian Geselle, said: “After careful consideration of the opportunities and risks, the Supervisory Board has come to the conclusion that staging documenta fifteen in 2022 is important, even under possible continuing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in these still uncertain times. In particular, the curatorial concept of ruangrupa offers opportunities to respond to current events and to question the familiar. I would like to let visitors from Kassel and around the world know that we are looking forward to their visit. We will respond to any developments in the COVID-19 pandemic with a comprehensive set of measures to ensure a safe stay in Kassel. The shareholders, the City of Kassel and the State of Hesse are prepared to compensate for possible additional costs or reduced revenues incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More important than aiming for new attendance records, the goal is to send a signal of hope emanating from culture.”
“The Supervisory Board and shareholders have decided to pursue a joint course of action ensuring that documenta fifteen will take place in 2022 and that we will tackle the associated challenges together,” added Angela Dorn, Deputy Chair of the Supervisory Board and Hesse’s Minister for Higher Education, Research, Science and the Arts. “We take pandemic developments very seriously and are taking precautions to safeguard the world art exhibition. Uncertainty is something that will continue to be with us. Here, I see enormous potential for the upcoming documenta to bring about a change toward more sustainability in a comprehensive sense, in economy, knowledge production, and cooperation—also in dealing with the global pandemic, because like every documenta, this one will also be a reflection of its time. ruangrupa has made the lumbung concept its principle. Originating in rural areas of Indonesia, this practice centers around storing the harvest in a communal rice barn and using it for the common good. I am confident that all of us, the many people involved in the documenta team, artists and visitors alike, can work together to enrich our society in this way.”
“For us in ruangrupa, we always imagined and considered throughout the entire process that documenta fifteen would take place in 2022. ruangrupa intends to lay a journey of how a contemporary art event of this the scale can be executed while being relevant to the times we are living in. Like almost everyone in the last year and a half, we have been forced to work, collaborate, and make decisions largely through digital exchange. For our type of practices, which are heavily dependent on building affinities through spending time together in physical proximity, today’s conditions were almost unimaginable before. But this pandemic has also put forward the importance of being local. By being honest and transparent to the global conditions that documenta fifteen has been prepared under, we are working together with diverse models, struggles, and examples, showing that the practice of lumbung is more timely than ever,” says Ade Darmawan, Member of ruangrupa, the Artistic Direction.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, which has broken (infra-)structures, conventions, and habits since its outbreak, is an occasion for a comprehensive re-think on exhibitions of documenta’s scale. We can achieve a great deal if we move forward courageously and allow this documenta to assert itself amid a situation of ongoing uncertainty. I see an opportunity here for a new approach to sustainability in the arts and culture sector, and I am very pleased to be able to help shape it,” states Dr. Sabine Schormann, General Director of documenta und Museum Fridericianum gGmbH.
The Supervisory Board’s recommendation that the fifteenth edition of documenta takes place as scheduled in 2022 is also supported by the documenta fifteen Finding Committee (documenta Committee), which met in advance of today’s meeting. The Finding Committee emphasizes that the curatorial practice of ruangrupa represents an apt response to the urgencies of our time; it is rooted in life and process-oriented, and therefore has the power to take on moments of uncertainty.
The resolution of the shareholders’ meeting is still to be confirmed by a resolution of the municipal council of the City of Kassel.
Ticket sales for documenta fifteen will start via Ticketmaster at the end of September 2021. Further exhibition venues as well as individual steps in the field of sustainability will be communicated over the coming months.