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Adam Szymczyk Named Artistic Director of dOCUMENTA 14 0

On November 22, Bernd Leifeld, CEO of dOCUMENTA, and Museum Fridericianum Veranstaltungs-GmbH announced that Adam Szymczyk will be the new Artistic Director for dOCUMENTA 14, which is scheduled to take place from June to September 2017. Szymczyk is currently the Director and Chief Curator for Kunsthalle Basel, and will now also be directly involved with organizing the most important regularly occurring exhibition for modern and contemporary art in the world, which takes place every five years in Kassel, Germany.

Adam Szymczyk was born in 1970, in Piotrków Trybunalski, Poland. He is a co-founder of the Foksal Gallery Foundation in Warsaw, and worked there as curator from 1997 till 2003, which is when he assumed his post in Basel. In 2008 he co-curated, along with Elena Filipovic, the 5th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art, which was titled When Things Cast No Shadow, and in 2012 he curated Olinka, or Where Movement Is Created, at the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City. He is a Member of the Board of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. In 2011, he was the recipient of the Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement, at the Menil Foundation in Houston.

Shortly after the announcement of Szymczyk's appointment, wanted to find out more about his general view on the phenomenon known as dOCUMENTA, and how the exhibition deals with the art-world’s particular time dimensions and market processes. Here's what we gleaned from the man who some call “the rock star of the art-world”:

If before, such art exhibitions as dOCUMENTA and the Venice Biennale inhabited the role of a flagship by showing the future direction of art, now they just tend to collect what is already out there. What is your take on this? Is it possible to change or influence this tendency? Is it even necessary to change it?

I do not really see this tendency you described. Clearly, in order to imagine a future, one starts working with what's already at hand – the past and the present.

Does dOCUMENTA still continue to successfully maintain its status as a catalyst in the world of contemporary art?

I don't see dOCUMENTA as a catalyst, which is a sort of empty category. Contemporary art is a part of the world and not a world in itself.

In today's accelerated world, is it possible to curate an exhibition that will only open four years from now? That is, can one capture the zeitgeist and hit the correct keywords that will be relevant in 2017?

The exhibition in 2017 will be an arrival point reached after a long journey. The destination of this journey is yet to be found.

It is no secret that the Venice Biennale is being increasingly tied to what is going on in the art market. Does this same fate await dOCUMENTA? Does the fact that dOCUMENTA is held only once every five years protect it from this?

I do not really see why the Venice Biennial should be seen as more tied to the market than any other big or small exhibition. The art market today is not bound to specific locations; it is exactly as pervasive as the global capital is. 

You come from Eastern Europe – namely, Poland. Could Eastern European art be somehow positioned more favorably in dOCUMENTA 14?

Art made in Eastern Europe consists of a myriad of singular practices that cannot be brought together under a common denominator. I am not really interested in representing countries and regions of the world. I will work with artists regardless where they come from.