Artistic director of Documenta 14
If anybody was unsure about the seriousness of Szymcyzk’s ambition to dramatically up the stakes of what a ‘largescale exhibition’ can do in a period of political crisis, then his Documenta 14 – staged in both Athens and its usual Kassel home – confirmed he was prepared to polarise his audience. Drawing on every radical zeitgeist of marginality and resistance, from trans politics to indigeneity, from the migration crisis to various flavours of anticapitalism, Szymczyk’s show upbraided cultural tourism by confronting the audience with the contradictions of globalisation. In Athens there were accusations of disaster tourism; in Kassel (very) mixed reviews, particularly from the local press. Szymczyk’s fraught relationship with the German town came to a head in August when it was learned that the costs of the Greek adventure had overrun, landing Documenta a reported €7m in the red. Szymczyk hit back, declaring that it was time to talk critically about the purpose of the mega-exhibition. You don’t hire this curator for an easy ride.