It was a perfect day, before things took a turn. documenta fifteen had just opened to the public, celebratory events were taking place across Kassel, and, as culture writer Siddhartha Mitter observed, everything and everyone seemed to be vibing.
‘How can you capture a feeling?’ asked one curator from the Philippines; others from Hong Kong and Nepal agreed. You had to be there.
But you didn’t have to go to a B.D.S.M. party organised by Party Office b2b Fadescha, or catch a Black Quantum Futurism performance on the group’s floating stage on the Fulda River, to feel part of it, either.
That is, lumbung, the Indonesian term for a community rice barn that artistic directors ruangrupa used to describe the process that shaped this edition of Germany’s quinquennial exhibition (18 June–25 September 2022), in which a common resource (the show’s eye-watering budget) was distributed among a community. (Here, a constellation of invited collectives and individuals, who in turn invited other collectives and individuals, resulting in over 1,500 participants.)
Taking up a section of the ground floor is Fondation Festival sur le Niger, founded in 2009 to support the Festival sur le Niger, which became one of the largest cultural events in West Africa after it started in 2005 in Ségou, Mali.
Works include Abdoulaye Konaté’s Hommage aux chasseurs du Mandé (1996), a large earthen fabric panel hosting figures created with talismans and cowrie shells that won the 1996 grand prize at Dak’Art; and sculptural hangings of folded cardboard blocks wrapped in thread by Losso Marie-Ange Dakouo, whose brilliantly lit monumental spiral ADN Collectif (2021) casts a spectacular shadow.
The title of the Fondation’s presentation, Le Maaya Bulon / Vestibule Maaya, refers to the room in a Malian house where hospitality is practised, but also echoes the festival’s origins.
Founder Mamou Daffé originally owned a video store in Ségou that doubled as a meeting place. When video fell out of fashion, Daffé opened a hotel but realised people didn’t stay in Ségou much, so he rallied the community to imagine, establish, and support a festival rooted in the concept of ‘Maaya entrepreneurship’.
At the heart of Maaya entrepreneurship is knowing your community and yourself—an ethos that comes through beyond collective participations in Kassel. A case in point is artist Amol K Patil’s stunning presentation Black Masks on Roller Skates (2022), which unfolds across a massive chunk of Hübner areal’s basement.
A series of bronze sculptures and paintings depict body parts, sometimes disembodied at other times multiplied, as with a clay-like slab of cast bronze from which ten profiles line up vertically.
In one corner of the space, which is filled with irregular wooden soil boxes, a video shows Patil rollerskating in Mumbai. He holds a radio playing a song about people who ‘dug the land with the toil of [their] hands’—an homage to Anil Tuebhekar, a Dalit who swept the street on roller skates with a radio at his waist.
‘He cleaned the city, but knew he wasn’t welcome into the bus or in the hotel for a drink of water,’ Patil states. ‘Shutting the world out with music was his individual protest.’
Read the entire article here: https://ocula.com/magazine/features/documenta-fifteen-is-not-a-single-event/