One of the largest modern art exhibitions, “Learning from Athens,” has recently opened in the midst of a controversial move. For the first time in history, Germany’s renowned exhibition is running in two cities: Athens and Kassel, with a tagline given by Artistic Director Adam Szymczyk. As Athens is struggling with economic challenges and being on the forefront of the refugee crisis, the exhibition’s split between two countries has sparked criticism from some quarters. Amongst the critics is Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek Finance Minister, has called it “a gimmick” to exploit Greece’s tragedy.
As documenta 14 kicks off in the Greek Capital on April 8, leading artists and curators dare to initiate a narrative from the troubled city. They hope that it will help to reinvigorate the Greek Capital’s fading art scene. On the other hand, detractors complain that it smacks of cultural imperialism, raising concern over the exhibition’s purpose and means of implementation. Set against the backdrop of Athens, the event promises to be a compelling watch, exploring the role of art and what purpose it truly serves in times of crisis. The documentary will also provide an unprecedented, behind-the-scenes view of documenta 14, offering insight into what happens when the exhibition is over. The exhibition is set to move to Kassel in June, and the world is curious about what wealthy Northern Europe can learn from a city that’s struggling to stay afloat.