Chicago art collectors attend Documenta in Germany – Consumer News

on Jun23

22 June 2017 | 10:30 am

If you want to attend the most important contemporary art show in the world, hurry: Documenta happens only once every five years, and it ends soon. The show, held in Kassel, Germany, has catapulted many contemporary artists to world fame, including Chicago’s Theaster Gates and Kerry James Marshall. This year’s iteration, the 14th since its inception in 1955, has strong Chicago connections. Co-curator Dieter Roelstraete is the former senior curator at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Chicago artists with work at Documenta include Pope.L, Dan Peterman, David Schutter and Irena Haiduk.

Documenta is more than an art show; it’s a mental workout. “It’s a place to be intellectually challenged,” says Solveig Ovstebo, director at Renaissance Society, a contemporary art gallery at University of Chicago. The show, established in 1955, “takes the pulse of what artists are working with, how they respond to our times,” she says. “Oftentimes you can see the artists have a more political voice than they would normally present.” In June, Ovstebo took a group of 20 Renaissance Society board members and supporters to Documenta.

Chicago collector Heiji Choy Black traveled with the group for her first-ever visit to Documenta. “It’s a very heavy, serious show,” says Black, calling the show “part of the education of the contemporary art world.” Memorable artists for her were Roee Rosen, who built a virtual-reality installation around Eva Braun, mistress of Adolf Hitler; Olaf Holzapfel, who used 18th- and 19th-century farm fences to explore barriers in modern society; and R.H. Quaytman, whose pieces show the intersection between traditional European art and contemporary art.

Interior designer Anne Kaplan, a board member at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, went to the show on her own in June, starting in Athens, Greece, a new venue for this iteration of Documenta. “The exhibitions are powerful and poignant as we see the movements of goods, material and humans who are displaced by conditions beyond their control,” Kaplan said in an email. Work she found intriguing includes photographs by Indian artist Gauri Gill and sculptures from Nigerian-born Otobong Nkanga. Works by both will appear in “Many Tongues,” an upcoming survey of art from the Middle East and South Asia assembled by Omar Kholeif, MCA’s senior curator. The show is scheduled to open Oct. 26, 2019.

A dozen-plus artists caught the eye of Hunt Tackbary, merchandise manager at Holly Hunt in Chicago. Among them: Britta Marakatt-Labba, a Sami artist from northern Scandinavia, whose “beautiful embroidered works show the mythologies of her culture and the geo-political clashes for territory with the countries who don’t respect their traditions,” Tackbary writes in an email. He also found “fabulous” an 18-minute video, “Atlas Fractured,” by Theo Eshetu. The piece uses voice recordings of Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes and other visionaries to talk about the role of myth and race in culture. “Very powerful and captivating,” Tackbary says. He called the show overall “embracing and compassionate, discussing cultures on a continuum and not necessarily as diametrically opposed forces.”

Documenta runs through Sept. 17 in Kassel and through July 16 in Athens.



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