documenta Parcours Friedrichsplatz
The public space in the city of Kassel differs from that in other cities because of the high-quality outdoor artworks from past documenta exhibitions. By gradually tapping into new venues, the exhibition series used its urban environment programmatically. Every documenta since in 1977 has included location-specific artworks that comment on or intervene in the urban context. On the search for enhanced social effectiveness, the art increasingly reacts to its socially defined environment in order to gain a new binding character away from the exhibition spaces. Therefore, the history of documenta is also the history of its encroachment into outdoor spaces.
Although all outdoor exhibits are generally designed to be of a temporary nature, nineteen prominent installations have so far successfully found a permanent place in the cityscape by way of donation or acquisition. The fact that they have remained in situ was not the result of a systematic acquisition policy but also involved campaigns led by the local public as well as activities by artists and sponsors. The city of Kassel has become the owner of most of the documenta outdoor exhibits, and is responsible for them.
The documenta outdoor artworks differ in their dimensions and materiality, as well as in their artistic intentions. In any event, they are representative of the communication intention of the respective exhibition. They reflect important stages in the history of the global art exhibition and are contemporary examples of the artistic approach to urban or rural spaces.
With their public effectiveness, the installations are always at the focus of public interest. Their creation and purchase is subject to a critical commentary from the citizens. The often controversial reactions also reflect the shifting arguments in the discussion of art in a public environment.
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