Adam Szymczyk

Artistic director of Documenta 14

Polish curator Adam Szymczyk vaults further up the list as artistic director of Documenta 14, which creeps ever closer, opening in 2017. With his teams working across two cities, in Athens and Documenta’s hometown of Kassel (the first splitting venues in the history of the celebrated quinquennial art exhibition), its temporary takeover of the Athens-based journal South as a State of Mind has stated the will for critical inquiry to be ‘clearly driven by a sense of the political, social and ecological urgency of this historical moment’. And of course by a sense of geography, place and an interest in trying to inhabit the existing structures therein rather than rushing to replace them with something new. Inviting artists to develop new works, his politicised approach seeks ‘the possibility of working together together towards scenarios that offer strategies against the dominant modes and modalities of passivity, control, terror’. Szymczyk sees Athens and Kassel as two locations emblematic of the current extreme and polarised states of Europe, both with radically different economic and social conditions. Amidst our contemporary global politics, Szymczyk has cited as points of criticality Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russia, following the annexation of Crimea and war in Eastern Ukraine, which ‘begets specters of the Cold War’; austerity measures imposed on Greece by international financial institutions; extremism being ‘organized around the fear of the “other”, conflating local Muslims and new refugees with terrorists’; and the continuing conflict in Syria, at an ‘all-too-conceivable stalemate’. The platform of the Documenta 14 website has been made available to the anonymous Syrian filmmaking collective Abounaddara, and every Friday a new film of theirs is released under the umbrella term ‘emergency cinema’.