Is this art?

Along with the video installation, we also went to the exhibition at the Fridericianum at dOCUMENTA (13).

The exhibition at Friedrichsplatz was…interesting? – unless you have a passion for obscure modern art, you might find it a bit difficult. The most common comment I heard while walking around was “Is this art?” The ground floor featured beautiful, large open rooms, with light flowing in from all sides and double height ceilings. Each room contained one thing. One room had a single penny balanced on its edge, one nothing but wind, one had a letter displayed in a glass case declaring the artists intention not to exhibit and one was filled with music described as a ‘vocal illustration’. I felt the space was slightly wasted.

Ryan Gander

Although there was nothing to support my theory, I hope that there were hidden cameras in the various rooms, particularly the one containing the penny. I feel that people’s reactions to the exhibit made better art that the exhibit itself!

While a lot of the art was not to my taste, there were a couple of artists that I would seek to see again. Doreen Reid Nakamarra and Warlimpirrnga Tjapaljarri were two such artists. Their work featured optical illusion paintings. Each of the lines is made up of hundreds of dots joined together. Most of Doreen’s work was laid out on a raised section of the floor. The paintings made me think of sand dunes and the Sahara desert. They also gave me an interesting idea for some work of my own!

Doreen Reid Nakamarra

Doreen Reid Nakamarra

Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri

The other artist I particularly liked was Hannah Ryggen. In a room filled with some strange work by Charlotte Salomon that left me cold, bored and indifferent, this piece by Hannah was a refreshing burst of colour and bold expression.

Hannah Ryggen


7 thoughts on “Is this art?

    • That is bizarre. How did you find the exhibition? I think that is something that needs to be experienced first hand to be understood.

      The invisible labyrinth sounds intriguing; navigation using vibrating headphones rather than your eyes.

      • I was in london for the day and went to see what was on at the Bankside. I’m still in two minds – it certainly made me think ‘outside the box’ of normal art… but I also feel like I paid money to look at empty spaces and canvasses!

  1. I’ve visited the documenta now 6 times – and yet – my favourite art objects are the works of Nakamarra. The objects are spectacular and mind-boggling. They tell stories so vividly that I can even hear the sounds of the Outback and smell the soil.
    However, the ractions of the audience is quite interesting to watch – either the people stop right in their tracks and gape or they just walk on – seemingly unaffected.

  2. In the spaces that seemed ‘wasted’… would it constitute an act of ‘art’ so to speak, to break in at night and hang paintings all round the walls and then observe the gallery staff in the morning, instead of the gallery staff observing the people looking at no art? Just a passing thought 🙂

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