Peekaboo?!? Documenta’s S&M video

DocumentaSM3.jpgPeople tend to forget it, but Documenta was established in Kassel because the city adjoined West Germany’s border with the Communist DDR. So it seems somehow fitting that this summer the city has become the nexus of artworld Kremlinology, in which every communication from Documenta director Roger Buergel is parsed for some clue as to what is going to be revealed to us on June 13. Artworld Salon readers will recall the extremely odd Saab press release in which Buergel informed us, “Real coolness comes from within: on the outside, my car shows the formal elegance and effortlessness of a white cloud,” a communication made all the stranger by the fact that he was being so tight-lipped about the artists selected. (Berlin writer Ludwig Seyfarth and Artnet.de broke that news two weeks ago with some old-fashioned detective work and help from various allies.)

But compared to latest emanation from Kassel, that Saab story seems downright reasonable. An hour ago, Artworld Salon regular Heman Chong informed me that an extremely NSFW video (bondage, nudity, etc, in the Araki style) was had just been posted on the main page of Documenta’s website. It’s the trailer for “Lovely Andrea” by Hito Steyerl, and ties into Documenta theme number 2, “What is bare life?” explained thus on the site: “Bare life deals with that part of our existence from which no measure of security will ever protect us. But, as in sexuality, absolute exposure is intricately connected with infinite pleasure.”

I watched it in disbelief, and started to write this post. And then fifteen minutes later it was gone. (There’s a link to the video in YouTube here. Sometimes it seems to be password-protected,UPDATE: “This video has been removed due to terms of use violation.” Here are some NSFW screencaps.) Kremlinologists of the artworld, how shall we parse this: Is someone inside subverting Buergel’s secretiveness? Is this more of his peekaboo promotional tactics? Or perhaps a sign of boldness, that was suddenly second-guessed and yanked offline? (UPDATE: It’s answer #2, see comment from Heman below.)

2 thoughts on “Peekaboo?!? Documenta’s S&M video”

  1. Apparently, according to my insider sources, the video will be up for a couple of hours each day for the next couple of days. So it might be worth it to troll around your computer to catch a glimpse of it.

    As much as I would like to critique the whole cheezy-ness of the phenomeon, I must say, this is much more fun than another write-up or another photo log of someone putting their leftover lunches in a metal box. And damn, it’s just about as close to bare life as you can get.

  2. Oops, it seems that Documenta using YouTube to host its teaser, while very Web 2.0, has backfired. The link now reads: “This video has been removed due to terms of use violation.”

    Time for some new Kremlinology, kids. Was this a simple failure to thing thinks through, or a Buergelesque gambit to get press for being censored by Google/YouTube?

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