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Mapping The Void

Mapping The Void 

Mapping the void in Kassel, Venice, Muenster, Istanbul and Trentino.
"Why are we here, what is the meaning of this gathering?" asks actor Harvey Keitel as he wanders the ruins on an ancient battlefield. Keitel is a solitary agonist in Irish artist James Coleman's film 'Installation Retake with Evidence' at Documenta 12 in Kassel. Keitel is unsurprised when no answer is forthcoming, knowing it is futile to interrogate the broken statuary or the skulls in the dirt. "I should not have come here", he opines.
But this summer 754.301 people did come to Kassel with its very own mystique, and at least 100.000 of them embarked on the further track of the ‘Grand Tour' as well, off to Venice with it's profusion of national pavilions and to Muenster with its public space specificity. On top of that an optimistic Indian summer awaits the true addicts in Istanbul. It must have been alarmingly silent in the museums for contemporary art in the other capitals of Europe. Who cares for the outdated phenomenon of the national museum collection if nomadic big deal events succeed in provoking our thoughts in a much more glamorous (Venice), energetic (Istanbul) or charismatic (Kassel) way?
Reflecting on the Grand Tour 2007, 'Die Zeit's' Hanno Rauterberg compares Documenta 12 with this year's Venice Bienniale. "Both exhibitions are astonishingly similar to each other. Both turn against the supremacy of the market, yearn for an art that intervenes and stirs things up and asks what still remains from the ‘project of modernity'".
Are Roger Buergel, Robert Storr, Hou Hanrou and the other curators in charge of the ongoing flood of 21st century mega-shows and projects indeed taking up position by distancing themselves from the achievements of twentieth century art, design, and architecture, especially modernism? Does art need to start over with a clean sheet? How will this potential new void be filled and if so, can the visual arts (still) be of value in the twentyfirst century?

Art historian and curator Marjolein Schaap will confront five independent, eminent or upcoming artists and theoreticians with these questions.

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