April 12, 2017  —  by

Paul B. Preciado on the opening of Documenta 14 in Athens

credit: OKplus

ATHENS — Even today, in a supersaturated calendar of worldwide art events, no show matters more than Documenta, a colossal German exhibition of contemporary art, reinvented every five or so years as a “museum of 100 days”. Of 13 editions so far, two have become touchstones in recent art history: the freewheeling fifth edition, curated by the Swiss Harald Szeemann in 1972, which equalized painting and sculpture with conceptual art and happenings; and the erudite 11th edition, organized by the Nigerian Okwui Enwezor in 2002, which propounded a global art ecosystem with Europe no longer at the center. But every Documenta, since the first in 1955, has served as a manifesto about art’s current relevance and direction, and every one has taken place in Kassel, an unlovely town north of Frankfurt destroyed by Allied bombs in World War II.

Until this year. The 14th edition of Documenta, led by the 46-year-old Polish curator Adam Szymczyk, is being shared by Kassel and Athens. Mr. Szymczyk and the bulk of his curatorial team have been living in Greece for years in order to put together Learning from Athens, the working title of Documenta 14. The Greek half of this two-city show opened on Saturday in Athens, where we sat down with Paul B. Preciado, Director of Public Programs for Documenta 14, to discuss the opening. A full reckoning will have to wait until June, when the show’s second half opens in Kassel.