I am off the Document 14! This is a great treat, especially as I had pleasure of attending DocumentA 13 in 2012. It is amazing to have the opportunity to attend consecutive Documenta instalments, which occur once every five years. When I attended DocumentA 13 I was just about to begin my Masters programme in History of Art with Photography. Now as I am looking forward to Documenta 14 I am someway through a PhD researching West African photography history and theory.
So how have I grown in my 2 Documenta years? The most significant knowledge I have come to must be the understanding that aesthetics and visuality are dominated by a Western ideal that are not universally shared. This might seem trivial on the one hand and at the same time an obvious everyday point that it needs no articulation. However, on the triviality front, having a Western ideal obsessed media, from the BBC to the paid-for broadcasting entities, can be linked directly to the serious issue of young people struggling to identify with the culture and society they grew up in, to the extent that they decide to become a jihadi fighter. For anyone struggling to see the link, the key is in understanding the diet of visuality and aesthetics these young people are raised on. Ask yourself: who is always the baddie and who is the default saviour of the planet, in the media they consume? While the Western hegemony of visuality and the media might seem obvious, understanding this for what it is and knowing how to address it, as an issue are complex. Suffice to say, at this point, doing justice to the issue of Western hegemony of the media has to be a diatribe for another blog post.
In 2012 I remember the Occupy Movement was at its peak and it was duly represented at DocumentA 13. Also the pivotal attraction at DocumentA 13 itself was the crowdsourcing attempt to lobby UNESCO to add the earth’s atmosphere to its World Heritage List (link to World Heritage List site). Fast-forward to Documenta 14 in 2017 and it seems in some sense nothing has changed. In fact five year down the line, from 2012, we humans, as a specie especially in the West, seem to be regressing. Cue Brexit, abuse of the labour market in the gig economy, Trump and the pulling out of the US from the Paris Climate Agreement. Never mind life imitating art, here we have art playing the role of prophet in anticipation of world events! While science can be acknowledged for addressing the material trajectory of the globe, the arts and humanities should be equally respected and supported as they attempt to stir humans’ mind and steer our philosophies as we try to rule the world.
Moving swiftly on, and abruptly away from an unintended rant, my intention for this piece was to announce a series of posts on Documenta in the run up to my visit to Documenta 14. The posts would be mainly the photographs of my highlights from DocumentA 13.
See the list of Galleria Clic’s blog posts on DocumentA 13.