Now, How? : mocumenta

Event 3 of 4 in the Now, How? series


A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and value of nothing.
—Oscar Wilde [1]


The third event in the Now, How? series satirically appropriates the name of the Kassel-Athens mega-exhibition for the purposes of posing the question of how critical and participatory distances are explored, created and undermined. In their open letter in response to the reporting by local newspapers of an $8,300,000.00 budget deficit — attributed by artforum magazine [2] to “managerial oversights” — the curators of documenta write the following:

We believe it is time to question the value production regime of mega-exhibitions such as documenta. We would like to denounce the exploitative model under which the stakeholders of documenta wish the ‘most important exhibition of the world’ to be produced. The expectations of ever-increasing success and economic growth not only generate exploitative working conditions but also jeopardize the possibility of the exhibition remaining a site of critical action and artistic experimentation.

Hear, hear! Readers of the Russian anarchist thinker, Mikhail Bakunin, will surely discern the robust Propaganda of the Deed the curators generated to illustrate their point. Schadenfreude, infused levity notwithstanding, the curators’ self-exculpating letter touches on a number of serious points: what is the appropriate amount of money to allocate for a public exhibition, particularly at a time in which discursive complexity is being extirpated by 'shitposts' and tweet-length gesture-politics more generally? How can genuine criticality emerge from institutional models of exhibition and engagement? Who has access to a given space at a given time in the context of a curated project in a public space? How is democracy manifested in the cultural life of a polity?

The artists included in mocumenta do not seek so much to answer these questions, but to deepen them, and to present other questions as well: to ask what is gained and lost by mediated notions of outreach. The format of the event, featuring four live performances in Berlin and four in the UK, to be live-streamed between the two locations via the corporate data and image-distribution platform, Youtube, holds up a funhouse mirror to the 'tale of two cities' narrative at the centre of this year’s documenta extravaganza. The event will also include three video works by the Spanish artist, Irene Pérez-Hernández, the Turkish artist, Özgür Kar, and the Czech artist and publisher, Martin Kohout. mocumenta may not aim to reach as wide an audience as documenta, and it makes no pretence to be as all-encompassing or ambitious, but the points the artists included examine are no less pressing (and it is also likely to be a far more cost efficient prospect). If we can learn from each other, both Athenians and Kasselites, then we can also learn from ourselves, particularly from our mistakes.

mocumenta will feature performances by Legacy Russell, Uma Breakdown, Eloise Fornieles, Katharina Ludwig, Gerald Curtis, Alice Jacobs, Nikhil Vettukattil, Lou Cantor, and Felix Riemann.

[1] paraphrased from an exchanged between Lord Darlington and Cecil Graham in Lady Windermere’s Fan.
[2] to read the full article, follow the link: https://www.artforum.com/news/id=71118


Now, How? is a series of events organised by William Kherbek, produced within Decad's lecture programme.

Tue, 7 Nov, 19.00h
7 Nov 2017

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