Empyre / Documenta 12

Invited on Empyre – soft_skinned_space for March 2006. Guest are: Christophe Bruno (FR), Erik Kluitenberg (NL), Christiane Paul (US), Dirk Vekemans (BE), and as moderator/guest, Christina McPhee (US)

The topic, “Is modernity our antiquity?”, is proposed by Roger Beurgel, artistic director for Documenta 12.

“It is fairly obvious that modernity, or modernity’s fate, exerts a profound influence on contemporary artists. Part of that attraction may stem from the fact that no one really knows if modernity is dead or alive. It seems to be in ruins after the totalitarian catastrophes of the 20th century (the very same catastrophes to which it somehow gave rise). It seems utterly compromised by the brutally partial application of its universal demands (liberté, égalité, fraternité) or by the simple fact that modernity and coloniality went, and probably still go, hand in hand. Still, people’s imaginations are full of modernity’s visions and forms (and I mean not only Bauhaus but also arch-modernist mind-sets transformed into contemporary catchwords like “identity” or “culture”). In short, it seems that we are both outside and inside modernity, both repelled by its deadly violence and seduced by its most immodest aspiration or potential: that there might, after all, be a common planetary horizon for all the living and the dead.”

-Roger Beurgel, artistic director, Documenta 12

This topic is one of three leitmotifs to be brought into a world wide discussion that will occur throughout 2006 in advance of Documenta 12, in 2007. Documenta, the festival of art that occurs every five years in Kassel, has invited all of us at the -empyre- list to participate in a formal discussion around three questions, or leitmotifs, throughout this year. This month is the launch of our participation in this project, which will continue in July and November 2006, again with topics selected by the Documenta team. All over the world, some seventy online and print journals will initiate dialogue around three core questions; the results will integrate into Documenta 12 itself next year in Kassel ( 2007). -empyre- ’s archives for this month will find their place in print and / or online with the Documenta Magazine project in 2007 when the festival opens.