Occupy movement is welcome at Germany’s Documenta art show

Members of the Occupy L.A. movement during a May Day protest downtown.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

The Occupy movement has targeted a number of art institutions around the world through its “Occupy museums” spinoff. Although some institutions have regarded the movement as an unwanted presence, the prominent German festival Documenta has laid out a virtual welcome mat for protesters.

In the last few weeks, groups of Occupy activists have hunkered down in Berlin, where they were invited to take part in this summer’s Berlin Biennale as part of a living exhibition. But protesters ended up turning on their host, demanding an abandonment of its hierarchical management structure.

Documenta, one of the most important art festivals in the world, is taking place in the city of Kassel, where the Occupy movement has spread. Over the weekend, Documenta’s artistic director issued a statement in which she threw her support behind the protesters.


“I welcome the ‘Occupy’ movement in Friedrichsplatz, which has grown over the last weeks,” wrote Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, the artistic director of Documenta, describing one of Kassel’s city squares. “It continues the wave of democratic protests that have been spreading across many cities in the world.”

At the same time, she pleaded with protesters “to care for the square, and to take responsibility for the space that they have the right to occupy, to consider the City of Kassel and the other visitors of Documenta in a worldly spirit of germination and flourishing.”

Documenta, now in its 13th edition, features art projects by major international talents at venues spread around Kassel.

In February, the Occupy movement called for the cancellation of New York’s Whitney Biennial, claiming the exhibition benefits wealthy individuals and corporations at the expense of workers.


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