The Spectacular Difference of Documenta XI

March 2003

Since its inception in 1955, Documenta has established itself as an institution that not only presents a survey of contemporary art historical issues but, more recently, the social and political milieu in which we live. Add to this the considerable amount of critical attention focused on who is chosen to curate Documenta, and the entire project would appear to be becoming more of a multidisciplinary inquiry into the ethics of curation and the institutionalising effect of exhibitions per se. In opting to not only investigate the structures and conditions of present-day artistic production but also interrogate its institutional status, Documenta XI appeared to be indicative of this trend. As the first major exhibition of the twenty-first century, moreover, this interrogative stance is hardly surprising – indeed, given the wider developments in museological, curatorial and institutional conventions, it would seem to be obligatory.

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Downey, Anthony. “The Spectacular Difference of Documenta 11.” Third Text 17.1, 2003: 85-92.