Documenta stuff(ed)

I have only seen two of the exhibition spaces of Documenta 12. Many wrote how bad the show is and of course i am doing my best to disagree and find some beauty here. There is some. Well, there’s the ueber sexy Harvey Keitel asking ‘Why are we here?” in a video artwork by James Coleman. But apart from that, so far, so not exciting.

The exhibition at the Documenta Hall is quite fun, in a kindergarten way. There are stuffed animals everywhere you look (i also witnessed an amazing amount of stuffed baby Knut all over the city btw.)


Real one first, a taxidermized giraffe which artist Peter Friedl brought back all the way from Qalquilyah, host of the only zoo in Palestine.

In spring 2003, the city was attacked and fired on by the Israeli army during the second Intifada. As a result, many animals were killed, including the above mentioned giraffe. During a shelling Brownie (that’s the name of the animal) panicked, hit its head on a pole, fell and died. The veterinarian became a taxidermist, who stuffed Brownie among others in an amateur manner. The conserved animals were displayed in a “museumâ€? next to the zoo.


The stuffed giraffe, The Zoo Story (2007), is there to break through the uniformity of the media images and call the attention of the public. The artist sees the giraffe object as an emotional representation of the political conflict in the West bank – a pars pro toto. Even if you have no clue about what the giraffe stands for you cannot help but feel sad while watching it: the animal is quite tiny and patches of its fur are missing.


Bit more cheerful is the installation of Cosima von Bonin, Relax – It’s only a Ghost (more images). I first thought it was a series of works by different artists but it turned out to be just one work you can walk in. There are oversized stuffed dogs and an octopus, sewn paintings, two pairs of jeans comically “sitting” on some kind of pedestal and two colourful sheet-metal sales carts.


The whole scene is supposed to represent a pirate island in the
Caribbean. Right! Told you i wasn’t all that excited.