Lars Bang Larsen

8 December 2021

Documenta- Politics and Art. About the exhibition in Museum of German History in Berlin

In this workshop Lars Bang Larsen will discuss the exhibition documenta. Politics and Art (2021-2022) that he co-curated with Julia Voss, Alexia Pooth, Dorothee Wierling and Dorlis Blume at the Museum of German History in Berlin. The exhibition addressed the political history of the documenta in the 20th century. Founded by the artist, designer and art professor Arnold Bode in the (at that point West German) city of Kassel, documenta first took place in 1955, and soon became one of the most important exhibition events in the world, on a par with the Venice and São Paulo biennials, and it has played a major role in the institutionalisation of contemporary art until today. He will present the main research findings of our exhibition on documenta, including its focus on the continuities between the NS and the post war era, on documenta as an anti-Communist exhibition, and on how documenta conveyed the cultural and political programme of the West. After this he hopes that we can discuss issues such as (artistic and curatorial) methodologies for how to deal with exhibition history, and with the relation between politics and art.

Required Reading:

Paz Guevara’s essay “Exhibition as Medium for Geopolitical Operations” (2021)

Caroline Jones: the chapter “Transnational Openings” from The Global Work of Art. World’s Fairs, Biennials, and the Aesthetics of Experience (2017)

The introduction and the chronology from the exhibition catalogue to documenta. Politik und Kunst.

Review of the exhibition documenta. Politik und Kunst. 

Lars Bang Larsen is an art historian and writer who has produced a body of research and curatorial work at the intersection of the Western schema of the social and the aesthetic, connecting art to larger histories of ideas. He has tracked art made in the context of countercultures—including spiritualism, psychedelia, and activism—that has produced mixed and emergent forms of experience and (non-)knowledge. He is director of art and research at Art Hub in Copenhagen.