documenta is an exhibition founded in 1955 and focused on contemporary art. The event takes place every five years in Kassel, Germany. documenta 15, which started on June 18, 2022, and will run until September 25, has caused great fanfare and profound dialogues about contemporary art. Aside from the tumult caused by the Antisemitism of an artwork by an Indonesian group, what made the event notable was the concept of art as a social issue and a civil campaign; projects that are defined in absence; installations that convey sociopolitical messages through the absence of the subject.
The picture Emily Watlington has taken from a garden with a handwritten announcement summarizes the social-environmental message presented by documenta 15. It is a photograph of a garden with handwritten text on cardboard attached to the bars, which says, "CONTEMPORARY ART HAS BECOME OUTDATED! THE FLORAISSANCE HAS BEGUN!". A huge mass of electronic waste, regularly dumped in Africa, is brought to a park in Kassel by Nest Collective. This reminds the viewers that we all live on the same planet. The installation titled "Return to Sender" is accompanied by a video from residents of Nairobi, where the Nest Collective was founded. This is a video of ordinary people who talk about their complicated interactions with the materials left in nature. Choosing an outdoor space for the installation is an admirable innovation, so it is impossible to decolonize the museum. The colonizer always chooses the museum, but I, as the artist, take my work, resulting from being your slave, to the urban space; after all, the earth is for all of us.
The Nhà Sàn Collective has brought plants, wine, and colors to the documenta. On the bank of a river in Kassel, there is an ornamented garden that invites the viewers to visit plants that have flown from Vietnam to Kassel. The garden is an informal invitation to see Vietnam's lively passion and joy. The artist is clearly disappointed with the world he is living in. Bad things have happened between the previous and the recent edition of documenta: multiple pandemics, war in Ukraine, bombings in Gaza, shootings in Hanano, and yet he is in trouble with his Visa. Many have missed the event, but wasn't it meant to be an international event? The artist is doubtful and pessimistic about the world and has left it to create a new world based on nurturing, with helpful beings that cause no trouble. The installations may at first seem like morals, but they avoid moralizing. The artist appreciates what is left of the good and promises kindness and care. He doesn't warn; he reminds. Moreover, the work is an affectionate inter-species interaction with a message that says set the human civilization free, set art free; art, this greatest and most creative manifestation of the human. It's the plants' turn, let them rule the world!
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