Individual Mythologies

Dobrila Denegri's interview with Harald Szeemann

Dobrila Denegri: Could you explain better what meant for you "individual mythologies" of Documenta 5 in Kassel 1972?

Harald Szeemann: In the 1970 I did an exhibition about Fluxus and Happening, because they were excluded from the exhibition in Bern, which I considered a historical mistake. At the same time that was some sort of general rehearsal for Documenta 5, since I got the proposal from Kassel to be a curator, just because the Documenta 4 which took place in '69 missed all what I showed in the When Attitudes...

Of course even if Fluxus and Happening were already established as historical movements, the exhibition raised lot of scandals, and I have understood that it's necessary to create for Documenta a solid program, which will consist of the exhibition, and than also of performances which can maintain media attention for 100 days.

Previous editions of Documenta were based on a polarisation of two main styles in the contemporary art. I wanted to oppose this stylistic aspects. Individual mythologies were not tendency nor style, but according to me, a natural human right. They represent indication that an individual is capable of creating some sort of territory regulated by the rules of intuition and creativity, and to claim it to be a concrete world.

DD: You also invented Aperto – section for young artists within Venice Biennial. This was really a moment of opening of this huge international manifestation towards new generations, but also to new artistic currencies that were coming up in that time.

HS: I was invited by Biennial to make a historical show about art of the '70s, which I did, but I also understood that it's necessary to make an exhibition which could be up-to-date and contemporary. Just on this turn of decades art was changing radically, and my opinion was that it has more sense to be opened to what was coming. I threatened that I would resign and so Venetian authorities released money for Aperto '80 which I did together with Italian curator Achille Bonito Oliva. We showed young artists, but also those which were of older generation but deserved attention. Unfortunately already in the next edition Aperto became exhibition made by five curators with artists "under 35". But age do not determine youth and freshness of the artist... for instance Louise Bourgeois is ninety - something but she is still a young artist. That's exactly the reason why in the '99s edition I played with title – dAPERTtutto – trying to reanimate this initial spirit.

Harvested in 2008 from the url: for "A Collection of Essays on Art" by Michael B. Chang – Reference i