Fridericianum/Friedrichsplatz, Kassel
Completed in 1779, the building was conceived as one of the first public museums in Europe.
Since 1955, the Fridericianum has traditionally been the main venue of documenta. 

From The Guidebook, 2012
Photo by Katy Hamer

Fridericianum/Friedrichsplatz, Kassel
Day two post the official Press Conference, June 7th, was sunny and warm, versus the previous day which was rainy and cold. This climate was much more conducive for all of the press and professional art world people who were pounding the cobble stone streets of Kassel, in search of dOCUMENTA (13) exhibitions. One of the largest and most centrally located building housing a whopping 75 artists is the Fridericianum in Friedrichsplatz. The number of artists alone in one particular location gives somewhat of an understanding of the large scope of this exhibition. Some of the most well known names in this site include Lawrence Weiner, Ida Applebroog, Emily Jacir and Gustav Metzger along with artists from a more recent past including Giorgio Morandi and Salvador Dali.

Upon entering the space and making a left into a large cavernous gallery, is a work by British artist Ryan Gander. The piece titled, I Need Some Meaning I Can Memorize (The Invisible Pull), 2012, is described in the accompanying label as “A gentle breeze pulling the spectator through the gallery space”, and is just that. The white walls radiate with a sense of empty solitude, something not often witnessed in an exhibition. Walking through the gallery, one will suddenly be aware of, in fact, a gentle cool breeze. It’s almost impossible to tell where it is coming from, having had looked for vents or fans of some sort. Magically appearing sans open window or an obvious, visual filtration system, adds to a sense of surreal quality. But the Blanche whiteness, still yet fluid is an exciting approach to not only an art piece but also in acknowledgement to space itself. Usually in exhibitions one is expected to “see”, we look and search for objects in hopes of visual satisfaction or desire for wonderment. However this piece by Ryan Gander does not provide for what most are hoping to find in a gallery setting. Rather, the breeze occupies the interior volume, filling the room, consuming the corners and strange spaces in between pipes near the ceiling. Watching those walk through and experience the breeze is a delight. Hair blows inconspicuously, and if caught at the right angle, a jacket or sleeve may wave silently. The installation involves two rooms and as the title suggests, spectators are invited to meander, whether they are investigating, looking for objects or just enjoying the whisper of air. Initially, one may think of invisibility. In what appears to be the “emptiness” of space, is actually a piece that needs the involvement of others. Not looking for or attempting to decipher objects or paintings, is something that instead lends itself to very small keen observation of the visual evidence of the breeze. Gander, in eliminating has instead made an artwork that is actually quite physical and encompassing, even if almost undecipherable by the human eye.

Ceal Floyer, ‘Til I Get It Right, 2005/2012
Kassel, Germany
Photo by Katy Hamer

Another artist whose work is in a small room next to Gander’s is Ceal Floyer. This piece, an audio installation from 2005 is titled ‘Til I Get It Right. Corresponding to the adjacent room, this space is also painted completely white and beyond two small speakers placed midway between the floor and the ceiling, empty, yet not empty. From the speakers a voice is emitted. Floyer, born in Karatschi, Pakistan is based in Berlin and London. She often examines intellect by way of focusing on the mundane along with humor, to create situations that may appear ordinary, but in fact are subtly altered confronting the viewer with a moment of subjection. For ‘Til I Get It Right, the artist used the song of the same title from Tammy Wynette, but what fills the room is a dreamy repetition of text: “So I’ll just keep on….’til I get it right”. The lyrical segment is oddly comforting. It fills the room, similarly to the breeze, but instead of being physically felt, the artist has made something that is meant to be emotionally felt. Some people leaned against the wall looking towards the ceiling, while others used the room to congregate and chat with friends. A few where aware of the soulful audio and strange message being broadcast. Again: “So I’ll just keep on….’til I get it right”. “So I’ll just keep on….’til I get it right”. “So I’ll just keep on….’til I get it right”. Lyrically and in a contextual loop, the words seem somewhat like an anthem, a reassurance, a reminder for persistence in the face of adversity.

Not until one reads the description of the work in the dOCUMENTA (13) Guidebook, or if familiar with the original song, will he or she become cognizant of the artists manipulation removing a relevant line from the song. Written in 1973 by Red Lane and Larry Henley, the chorus included the pertinent line “falling in love”, therefore the full text is  “I’ll just keep on falling in love ’til I get it right”.  What Ceal Floyer has done by removing three words is completely alter not only the song, but the message. The piece, rather than feel pertinent to matters of the heart, instead transmits a message that communicates on a deeper, less superficial matter, the complex circumstances of life and all of it’s triumphs and failures.

“So I’ll just keep on….’til I get it right”.

dOCUMENTA (13) will be on view in Kassel, Germany from June 6th-September 16th, 2012
There will also be related exhibitions in Kabul, Afghanistan June 20th-July 19th, 2012, Alexandria-Kairo, Egypt July 1st-8th, 2012 and Banff, Canada from August 2nd-15th, 2012
More soon!