A personal account of the time I spent working at dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, 2012
This text is presented in 3 parts, as follows:
the apartment (introduction)
the city (place)
office (the main)
What always requires a series of intricate arrangements, apart from the mental preparation necessary to spend months away from home - such as postponing previous commitments, putting on hold stimulating projects, as well as meetings and conversations with people we like - is the willingness to rearrange timetables and personal finances in order to be able to live for an extended period of time away from our social and professional environment: that's what gives us the most work.
It was aboard an ICE train from Frankfurt airport to Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe station that I arrived in Kassel one afternoon in early March. Asta V. was waiting for me on the railway platform. She told me that, just like me, she was also a Fellow of the Goethe-Institut, and had been there on the exact same platform a few days earlier when she arrived from Vilnius, in Lithuania. She kindly took me to the apartment where we would live together for the next few months, as we were both Goethe grant recipients, and then she went back to work.
The attic apartment was divided into four different sized rooms, which were all furnished identically, and were inhabited by (each of the three residents- Asta V., Övül D., and me, with one of the rooms serving as a guest room. The entire apartment had a very low ceiling, and included a kitchen-laundry area, which was like a common living area.
The food and drinks were prepared and served amid intense fragmented conversations about work in the public program department of dOCUMENTA (13), about city life our respective places of origin and Kassel in Germany. Invariably, disjointed readings and discussions were held simultaneously about the booklet published by documenta, while conversations with affairs and relationships from the past and present were openly held on Skype, between music video battles and video screenings of films and American TV series shown during dinner. While all these activities were taking place, a somewhat temperamental Melanie would work ceaselessly and would not leave us alone for a minute, until she went to sleep.
And there was also our rude and noisy washing machine, which sometimes acted as if it were a fourth occupant in the house; an entity from the invisible world or something like that. In Kassel, at this stage of the documenta’s planning and preparation, simple everyday things life, such as resting or inviting someone to come by for a visit, were simply out of the question. Around that time, I recall now, the possibility of living as a collective in the city almost faded away, like a natural phenomenon. Everywhere, it was all about dOCUMENTA (13).
Every resident had guests stay in the house. But only a few, and they would come months later, during d (13)’s opening week.
One particular issue, which we were unable to change from beginning to end, and which gradually became almost impossible to believe, was the unforgettable fact that a few meters away, one of our neighbors was able to spend every weekend completely drunk, while blasting out an atrocious variation on a Balkan beat, while continuously rolling glass bottles until break them along the floor and banging on the doors of his house at full volume all night long! Shouts, blood, zombies on the stairs of the nightmare. On the other hand, back at home – while trying to deal with such an unbearable situation - the most fragrant Dead Sea salts or amethysts often wafted out from the bathroom: Turkish revitalizing baths.
A couple of months after Kassel, while I sit here and think about what to write, I notice, to my curiosity, the importance of a small anonymous painting had on my stay, and how this unknown painting deeply affected my every day life during that period. life those days. Found by me on a street quite randomly, during a field trip, the unframed painting depicts women carrying water jugs on their heads, thus transmitting the simplicity of life in an Ethiopian village. One way or another, such a scene brought me equilibrium, while comfortably filling the white space of my room, which overlooked the bike parked in the "Hof" (communal courtyard).
Photos: 1 - building facade, 2 - apartment, 3 - kitchen, 4 - bedroom