documenta 14

Rebecca Belmore, Biinjiya'iing Onji (From inside), 2017, marble, Filopappou Hill, Athens, documenta 14, photo: Fanis Vlastaras

documenta 14

Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens, Cuddling Athens, 2017, performance, EMST—National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, documenta 14, photo: Stathis Mamalakis

documenta 14

María Magdalena Campos-Pons and Neil Leonard, Matanzas Sound Map, 2017, sound and sculptural installation, Athens School of Fine Arts (ASFA), documenta 14, Athens, photo: Angelos Giotopoulos

documenta 14

Andreas Angelidakis, Unauthorized (Athinaiki Techniki), 2017, installation view, Polytechniou 8, Athens, documenta 14, photo: Angelos Giotopoulos

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Unlearn What You Know: Documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel

For this year’s iteration of documenta 14, the international exhibition that takes place every five years, artistic director Adam Szymczyk made the choice to split the show between Athens and Kassel (the latter typically being the host city). In the lead-up to the Greek opening in early April, both documenta and Szymczyk remained rather tight- lipped about what to expect. Even after the Athens portion of the show debuted last month, an artist list had not been released for its German counterpart.

Szymczyk asks visitors to “unlearn what you know” before taking in the work, performances, and happenings of nearly 200 artists across 47 venues in Athens. Public programming, education, radio, TV, and publications complement the exhibition, organized with a team of curators and advisers. In anticipation of the Kassel leg of the exhibition this June, Szymczyk offered, “the great lesson is that there are no lessons.” While there’s no telling what to expect for the remainder of documenta 14, clearly it’s meant to be experienced without any expectations and an open attitude.