documenta 14
8 April – 17 September 2017
8 April – 16 July in Athens / 10 June – 17 September in Kassel
Learning from Athens

Artistic Director

Adam Szymczyk

Venues Athens

Athens Conservatoire (Odeion); Athens School of Fine Arts (ASFA); National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST); Benaki Museum: Pireos Street Annexe, Museum of Islamic Art and Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika Gallery; Megaron – The Athens Concert Hall; Parko Eleftherias, Athens Municipality Art Center and Museum of Anti-dictatorial and Democratic Resistance; National Archaeological Museum; Epigraphic Museum and 36 other locations and public spaces in Athens and Piraeus.

Visitors Athens


Visitors Kassel


Venues Kassel

Former underground train station (Kulturbahnhof); Neue Neue Galerie (Neue Hauptpost); Fridericianum; documenta Halle; Neue Galerie; Palais Bellevue; Orangerie; Museum of Natural History in the Ottoneum; Grimmwelt; Museum of Sepulchral Culture; Hessisches Landesmuseum; Stadtmuseum Kassel; Gießhaus; Gottschalk Halle; Kulturforum Schlachthof; Nordstadt-Park; Henschel Hallen and 18 other locations and public spaces in Kassel.



Historical positions



47.300.000 euros incl. Athens



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Banu Cennetoğlu, BEINGSAFEISSCARY (2017)
Photo: Roman März

Ibrahim Mahama, Performance Check Point Prosfygika. 1934-2034. 2016-2017. (2017)
Photo: Mathias Völzke

documenta 14 took up the cause of decentralizing and decolonizing the northwestern canon. In October 14, the artistic director, Adam Szymczyk, announced his concept, for which he was chosen by the Selection Committee about a year previously. According to the concept, the fourteenth documenta would take place in equal parts in Kassel and Athens under the motto “Learning from Athens” with the exhibition in Athens opening two months before the exhibition in Kassel and each running for 100 days. All of the participating artists were to exhibit at both locations, though not necessarily the same works. The announcement sparked fierce controversy. In Kassel, some parties were worried that the documenta, which at the end of the day is an economic factor that has to be taken seriously, might become a traveling exhibition. Nor did the announcement of the major event from Germany receive only positive feedback in Athens, which had been strained heavily first by the financial crisis and then by the absorption of a large number of refugees. documenta was criticized among other things for neocolonial behavior, promoting crisis tourism, and not incorporating the local scene sufficiently. At the same time the five-year plan of documenta gGmbH, according to which the budget of a respective documenta is based on that of the previous one, and thus only for one site, namely Kassel, took the institution to its limits both logistically and financially due to the two locations.

But the need to rethink the Eurocentric perspective of the large exhibition had long been addressed, starting with Catherine David’s “100 Days / 100 Guests” for documenta 10, to Okwui Enwezor’s global platforms for documenta 11 of which the exhibition in Kassel was only the fifth, to documenta 13 under Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev in Kabul and Bamiyan, Afghanistan (alongside events in Cairo, Alexandria and Banff), featuring 25 artists.

For Adam Szymczyk and his international curatorial team (comprised of Pierre Bal-Blanc, Hendrik Folkerts, Candice Hopkins, Hila Peleg, Dieter Roelstraete and Monika Szewczyk) Athens represented the financially disadvantaged global south vis-à-vis the European north. The victim of a “neocolonial and neoliberal attitude” scarred by a “humiliating crisis stigma” (Szymczyk in his contribution to the d14 Reader) became emblematic of today’s global crises and humanitarian catastrophes, which during the preparation of documenta 14 escalated dramatically with the war in Syria.


Georgia Sagri, Opening of the Public Program with performance Attempt. Come. (2017)
Photo: Stathis Mamalakis

With the location Athens as an antipode to Kassel – in the sense of the “divided self” or “The Theater and Its Double” (after Antonin Artaud) – a change of perspective was to be exemplified. Rather than repeating the 100-day exhibition in Germany, documenta 14 as a “continuum of aesthetic, economic, political and social experimentation” (Szymczyk) would take place in two locations because the world could no longer be explained, commented on or narrated from a single place.   

One of the first manifestations of documenta 14 and its themes were four semi-annual special issues of the magazine South as a State of Mind, founded in 2012 by Marina Fokidis, one of the curatorial advisors of documenta 14. The first press conference, at which the radio program Every Time A Ear di Soun with over 50 participants was introduced, took place at the Berlin project space SAVVY Contemporary, whose artistic director Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung acted as a curator at large of documenta 14.

Also months before the official exhibition opening in Athens, the public program “Parliament of Bodies,” under the direction of Paul B. Preciado, explored forms of post-identitary cohabitation and political action and formed six “Open Form Societies.” It began in September 2016 with 34 “freedom exercises” at the Athens Municipality Art Center in Parko Eleftherias (which translates as “Freedom Park”). The educational program “One Experience” took place in the form of walks with members of the “Choir.”

The selection of locations in Athens primarily concentrated on settings for contemporary art and cultural production, such as the Athens Conservatoire Odeion (with a focus on sound art and scores), the just-finished EMST National Museum of Contemporary Art (whose collection, established in 2000, was shown at the Fridericianum in Kassel (traditionally the core of documenta), the Athens School of Fine Arts (ASFA), three buildings of the private Benaki Museum, the Archeological and Epigraphic Museums, a shut-down open-air cinema, as well as many public spaces, ancient sights and public and private buildings at which individual works were shown or concerts and performances held.


Marta Minujin, The Parthenon of Books (2017)
Photo: Mathias Völzke

Amar Kanwar, Such a Morning (2017)
Photo: Mathias Völzke

Hiwa K, When We Were Exhaling Images (2017)
Photo: Mathias Völzke

Otobong Nkanga, Carved to Flow (2017)
Photo: Michael Nast

Maria Eichhorn, Unlawfully Acquired Books from Jewish Ownership (2017)
Photo: Mathias Völzke

Gauri Gill, Act of Appearance (2017)
Photo: Michael Nast

In Kassel, many of the central themes of documenta 14 were concentrated in the Neue Galerie where, starting with Maria Eichhorn’s installation The Rose Valland Institute, which intended to clarify unlawful property situations in Germany with the goal of restitution of Jewish property robbed under National Socialism, an associative reference system between colonialism and slavery, complex German-Greek relationships since Johann Joachim Winkelmann, expropriation policy and gender issues was constructed.

Of more than 160 international artists (including Nevin Aladağ, Banu Cennetoğlu, Peter Friedl, Gauri Gill, Hiwa K, Amar Kanwar, Naeem Mohaiemen, Otobong Nkanga, Emeka Ogboh, and Artur Żmijewski), mainly new productions were shown at both sites. The presentation was supplemented by historical work complexes, from book art from the Jahângîr album compiled under the four Mughal emperors in the sixteenth and seventh centuries to socialist realist painting.

Another focus was on contemporary works by indigenous artists from various cultures, including masks by the Kwakw’ala artist Beau Dick and works by the Sámi Artist Group (Keviselie/Hans Ragnar Mathisen, Britta Marakatt-Labba, and Synnøve Persen) – a fact that seemed to put the Western-influenced concept of art of some critics to the test – after all, one concern of documenta 14 was the “unlearning” of assimilated aesthetic hierarchies. Overall, the press, and particularly the German-language arts sections, were almost uniformly polemical – for example, documenta 14 was reproached for being an instrumentalization of art and for having an “profound longing to be morally right” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung).

Among the major attractions were Marta Minujín’s The Parthenon of Books (2017) on Friedrichsplatz, consisting of 67,000 books that at some time in history were included in an index and that during the last days of the exhibition were distributed to visitors; Ibrahim Mahama’s gate guards draped with charcoal sacks (Check Point Sekondi Loco. 1901–2030,2016-2017 (2016-17); and Olu Oguibe’s Monument to Strangers and Refugees (2017) in the form of an obelisk with the gilded inscription “I was a stranger and you took me in” from the Book of Matthew in four languages on Königsplatz (there was the possibility of the site-specific artwork remaining in Kassel thanks to a fundraising campaign but after long squabbles its final location remains uncertain). Another politically sensitive work is 77sqm_9:26min – Report (2017) by Forensic Architecture, which in a counter investigation reviews the trial revolving around the murder of Kassel Internet café operator Halit Yozgat by the neo-Nazi group National Socialist Underground and the role of the intelligence officer Andreas Temme, who was present in Yozgat’s shop when the crime was committed.


Naeem Mohaiemen, Two Meetings and a Funeral (2017)
Photo: Mathias Völzke

Exhibition view with mask by Beau Dick (2017)
Photo: Mathias Völzke

Peter Friedl, Film still from the single-channel video installation Report (2017)
Photo: Peter Friedl

Nevin Aladag, Music Room (Athens) with visitors (2017)
Photo: Mathias Völzke

Artur Zmijewski, Realism (2017)
Photo: Mathias Völzke

Synnøve Persen, Sámi Flag Project (2017)
Photo: Mathias Völzke

When documenta 14 came to an end after a total of 163 days of concerts, film screenings, readings, performances and talks in Kassel, more than one million visitors had been counted in both cities, making documenta 14 the most-visited contemporary art exhibition of all time. Since the venues in Athens were accessible free of charge or the entrance fees were allocated to the respective institution, no income was generated from the second location.

When the final farewell was said to documenta as a “unity of plot, place and time” (Szymczyk), it could – like its predecessors – hardly be grasped as an exhibition. With the doubling in two places the question arose as to whom documenta “belongs to” and whether a “world art exhibition” – on which due to its structure and financing steady growth is imposed and which had to adapt to a world that changed after the “Cold War” – is still feasible with a sole site in Kassel. The relevance of documenta 14 and its effects on subsequent documenta exhibitions can only be judged with the passage of time.

Olu Oguibe, Monument for strangers and refugees (2017)
Photo: Nils Klinger

Participating Artists


  • Abounaddara
  • Akinbiyi, Akinbode
  • Aladağ, Nevin
  • Andújar, Daniel García
  • Anesiadou, Danai
  • Angelidakis, Andreas
  • Antonas, Aristide
  • Araeen, Rasheed
  • Auder, Michel


  • Bachzetsis, Alexandra
  • Baghramian, Nairy
  • Balducci, Marie Cool Fabio
  • Baloji, Sammy
  • Basha, Arben
  • Belmore, Rebecca
  • Beqiri, Sokol
  • Bernat, Roger
  • Bidjocka, Bili
  • Bing, Wang
  • Birrell, Ross
  • Blido, Llambi
  • Bold, Nomin
  • Brăila, Pavel
  • Brătescu, Geta (1926-2018)


  • Cahn, Miriam
  • Campos-Pons, María Magdalena und Leonhard, Neil
  • Celmins, Vija
  • Cennetoğlu, Banu
  • Charalambous, Panos
  • Chopra, Nikhil
  • Ciudad Abierta


  • Daučíková, Anna
  • Davey, Moyra
  • Davids, Yael
  • Denes, Agnes
  • Diawara, Manthia
  • Dick, Beau (1955–2017)


  • Eichhorn, Maria
  • Eijkelboom, Hans
  • Ely, Bonita
  • Eshetu, Theo


  • Fofana, Aboubakar
  • Friedl, Peter


  • Galindo, Guillermo
  • Galindo, Regina José
  • Galván, Israel, Niño de Elche und Romero, Pedro G.
  • Gbaguidi, Pélagie
  • Georgiou, Apostolos
  • Gianikian, Yervant und Ricci Lucchi, Angela
  • Gill, Gauri
  • Gioti, Marina
  • González, Beatriz
  • Gordon, Douglas


  • Haacke, Hans
  • Hadzinikolaou, Constantinos
  • Haiduk, Irena
  • Haloi, Ganesh
  • Halprin, Anna
  • Harding, Dale
  • Harding, David
  • Hassabi, Maria
  • Hila, Edi
  • Hiller, Susan (1940-2019)
  • Holzapfel, Olaf
  • Hookey, Gordon


  • iQhiya
  • Iveković, Sanja


  • Kanwar, Amar
  • Karmakar, Romuald
  • Kassapis, Andreas Ragnar
  • Khalili, Bouchra
  • K, Hiwa
  • Knorr, Daniel


  • Ladik, Katalin
  • Lamelas, David
  • Lowe, Rick
  • Lucier, Alvin


  • Mahama, Ibrahim
  • Mari, Narimane
  • Mata Aho Collective
  • Mattin
  • Mekas, Jonas (1922-2019)
  • Melitopoulos, Angela
  • Ménard, Phia
  • Meredith-Vula, Lala
  • Minke, Gernot
  • Minujín, Marta
  • Mohaiemen, Naeem


  • Nallbani, Hasan
  • Nango, Joar
  • Nashashibi, Rosalind und Nashashibi/Skaer
  • Negros Tou Moria
  • Nkanga, Otobong
  • Noël, Kettly


  • Ogboh, Emeka
  • Oguibe, Olu
  • Oldendorf, Rainer
  • Oliveros, Pauline (1932–2016)
  • Orellana Mejía, Joaquín


  • Papoulias, Christos
  • Paravel, Véréna und Castaing-Taylor, Lucien
  • Patterson, Benjamin (1934–2016)
  • Peterman, Dan
  • Plessas, Angelo
  • Pohio, Nathan
  • Pope.L
  • Postcommodity
  • Prinz Gholam


  • Quaytman, R. H.


  • Richter, Gerhard
  • Rodríguez, Abel
  • Rosen, Roee
  • Rose, Tracey
  • Rukh, Lala (1948–2017)
  • Rungjang, Arin
  • Russell, Ben


  • Sagri, Georgia
  • Sámi Artist Group (Keviselie/Hans Ragnar Mathisen, Britta Marakatt-Labba, Synnøve Persen)
  • Samnang, Khvay
  • Sara, Máret Ánne
  • Scheirl, Ashley Hans
  • Schultz, Marilou
  • Schutter, David
  • Šeškus, Algirdas
  • Sheikh, Nilima
  • Shibli, Ahlam
  • Shoshi, Zef
  • Solh, Mounira Al
  • Sprinkle, Annie und Stephens, Beth
  • Stefani, Eva
  • Subramanyan K. G. (1924–2016)
  • Suter, Vivian
  • Sy, El Hadji


  • Thaemlitz, Terre
  • Tserenpil, Ariuntugs


  • Uklański, Piotr
  • Ullmann, Jakob


  • Vega Macotela, Antonio
  • Vicuña, Cecilia
  • Vigier, Annie & Apertet, Franck (les gens d’Uterpan)


  • Weinberger, Lois
  • Whitney, Stanley
  • Wild, Elisabeth
  • Wolf-Rehfeldt, Ruth
  • Wüst, Ulrich


  • Xagoraris, Zafos


  • Zevallos, Sergio
  • Żmijewski, Artur
  • Zygouri, Mary

Historical Positions


  • Abedin, Zainul (1914–1976)
  • Antonakos, Stephen (1926–2013)
  • Avraamov, Arseny (1886–1944)


  • Barlach, Ernst (1870–1938)
  • Baudet, Étienne (ca. 1638–1711)
  • Beckett, Samuel (1906–1989)
  • Boas, Franz (1858–1942)
  • Bode, Arnold (1900–1977)
  • Böttner, Lorenza (1959–1994)
  • Broodthaers, Marcel (1924–1976)
  • Burckhardt, Lucius (1925–2003)
  • Buza, Abdurrahim (1905–1986)


  • Caniaris, Vlassis (1928–2011)
  • Capo, Sotir (1934–2012)
  • Cardew, Cornelius (1936–1981)
  • Carrión, Ulises (1941–1989)
  • Çavdarbasha, Agim (1944–1999)
  • Chittaprosad(1915–1978)
  • Christou, Jani (1926–1970)
  • Chryssa(1933–2013)
  • Colombier, André du (1952–2003)
  • Courbet, Gustave (1819–1877)


  • D’Arcangelo, Christopher (1955–1979)
  • Davou, Bia (1932–1996)
  • Deren, Maya (1917–1961)
  • Despotopoulos, Ioannis (1903–1992)
  • Dick, Thomas (1877–1927)


  • Echtermeier, Carl Friedrich (1845–1910)
  • Ender, Maria (1897–1942)


  • Farrokhzad, Forough (1935–1967)
  • Felixmüller, Conrad (1897–1977)
  • Filonov, Pavel (1883–1941)


  • Giovanni, Giovanni di ser Guidi(1406–1486)
  • Gotovac, Tomislav (1937–2010)
  • Grimm, Jacob und Wilhelm (1785–1863, 1786–1859)
  • Grimm, Ludwig Emil (1790–1863)
  • Gurlitt, Cornelia (1890–1919)
  • Gurlitt, Louis (1812–1897)


  • Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, Nikos (1906–1994)
  • Hansen, Oskar (1922–2005)
  • Hémon, Sedje (1923–2011)
  • Heuss, Theodor (1884–1963)
  • Hofer, Karl (1878–1955)
  • Hotere, Ralph (1931–2013)


  • Jaern, Albert (1893–1949)
  • Jåks, Iver (1932–2007)
  • Janah, Sunil (1918–2012)


  • Kalderach, Alexander (1880–1965)
  • Kanda Matulu, Tshibumba (1947–1981 verschwunden)
  • Klenze, Leo von (1784–1864)
  • Kodheli, Kel (1918–2006)
  • Kolitz, Louis (1845–1914)
  • Kristo, Spiro (1936–2011)
  • KSYME-CMRC (gegründet 1979)


  • Lācis, Anna “Asja” (1891–1979)
  • Lai, Maria (1919–2013)
  • Laloy, Yves (1920–1999)
  • Lamakh, Valery Pavlovich (1925–1978)
  • Lappas, George (1950–2016)
  • Leyhausen, Karl (1899–1931)
  • Liebermann, Max (1847–1935)


  • Maciunas, George (1931–1978)
  • Mancoba, Ernest (1904–2002)
  • Masotta, Oscar (1930–1979)
  • Matjuschin, Michail (1861–1934)
  • Mele, Pandi (1939–2015)
  • Modotti, Tina (1896–1942)
  • Mukherjee, Benode Behari (1904–1980)


  • Niemczyk, Krzysztof (1938–1994)


  • Peries, Ivan (1921–1988)
  • Perlov, David (1930–2003)
  • Pierre, André (1915–2005)
  • Pietro Gerini, Niccolò di (1340–1414)
  • Pikionis, Dimitris (1887–1968)
  • Prigow, Dmitri (1940–2007)


  • Reçi, Hasan (1914–1980)
  • Richter, W.
  • Robertson, Anne Charlotte (1949–2012)
  • Rosenstein, Erna (1913–2004)


  • Schlegel, August Wilhelm und Friedrich (1767–1845, 1772–1829)
  • Schulz, Bruno (1892–1942)
  • Scratch Orchestra(1969–1974)
  • Seidmann-Freud, Tom (1892–1930)
  • Sekula, Allan (1951–2013)
  • Sharav, Baldugiin (1869–1939)
  • Sher-Gil, Amrita (1913–1941)
  • Sidur, Wadim (1924–1986)
  • Spies, August (1855–1887)
  • Stamo, Foto (1916–1989)
  • Strazimiri, Gani (1915–1993)
  • Strzemiński, Władysław (1893–1952)
  • Szapocznikow, Alina (1926–1973)


  • Tsarouchis, Yannis (1910–1989)


  • Vidal, Antonio (1928–2013)


  • Weisgerber, Albert (1878–1915)
  • Wendt, Lionel (1900–1944)
  • Winckelmann, Johann Joachim (1717–1768)
  • Winter, Fritz (1905–1976)
  • Wright, Basil (1907–1987)
  • Wróblewski, Andrzej (1927–1957)
  • Wyschnegradsky, Iwan (1893–1979)


  • Xenakis, Iannis (1922–2001)


  • Zengo Antoniu, Androniqi (1913–2000)
  • Zucca, Pierre (1943–1995)

Artistic Director
Adam Szymczyk

Adam Szymczyk was Artistic Director of documenta 14 in Kassel and Athens in 2017. In 1997, he co-founded the Foksal Gallery Foundation in Warsaw. He was Director at Kunsthalle Basel from 2004 to 2014. In 2008, he co-curated with Elena Filipovic the 5th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art, When Things Cast No Shadow. He is a Member of the Board of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw and Member of the Advisory Committee of Kontakt. Art Collection of Erste Group and ERSTE Foundation in Vienna. In 2011, he received the Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement at the Menil Foundation in Houston.