A Kassel

made of Art

What will three quarters of a million art lovers be doing in an insignificant German burgh this summer? Why are Channel 4 showing an entire game of baseball? Are these two events related? Should you give a damn about Round IX? Thom

Dibdin finds out.

Every five years the normally sleepy German town of Kassel wakes up to find it is at the apex of contemporary art in Europe: the documenta festival has returned for another hundred day stint. This year, for the festival’s ninth incarnation. documenta IX, Channel 4 will be there along with the famous and the fashionable, on 13 June, the opening night. The unlikely pairing of arch New Yorker: Laurie Pike and scourge of the Scottish political scene: Sheena McDonald, will introduce the proceedings on Round IX a two hour live show

from Kassel.

‘Documenta is one ofthose festivals, like the Frankfurt book fair or the Cannes film festival, in which an otherwise quite small and insignificant town suddenly becomes the centre of an artform’s energies,‘ according to Channel 4‘s commissioning editor for the Arts, Waldemar J anuszczak. ‘lts function has always been to sum up all the most interesting and, in the eyes of the curator, most significant, new art that has been done in the I

Dexter Gordon In 'flound Midnlgh

preceding five years. So it has a terribly important function in the art world as a survey show that tells you what has been happening.‘

This year’s show has such influence that the other great modern-art beano, the Venice Biennale, has been put back to accommodate it. Whether this is because of documenta lX’s importance or a-purely pragmatic move on Venice’s part, given the expected large attendance at Kassel, will depend on the choices made by the curator. Each documenta has been selected by a different person, this time by the Belgian ex-boxer and art impresario Jan Hoet.

‘Hoet had an extraordinary show in Ghent a few years ago called Champes des Amis,‘ recalls Januszczak, this involved about a hundred private rooms in people‘s homes being turned into a gallery. ‘It was like someone forcing you to turn your living room over to Francis Bacon for a

5r ..


week.’ Besides picking almost 200 different artists for documenta IX, Hoet has chosen to incorporate the themes of boxing, jazz and baseball into the event. Which goes some way to explaining why Round [X will be followed by a screening of Round Midnight, Betrand Tavernier’s classic jazz movie. starring Dexter Gordan, and the night rounded off with a baseball game broadcast live from Chicago. An influx oftalcnt from around the world means that few ofthe more established Western artists will be present at Kassel according to Januszczak. who believes that the ‘multi-cultural age has finally hit the art world‘. This will be reflected in the artist profiles featured on Round IX. ‘In the past it has been basically what New York. Paris. London and Cologne are doing that counts‘. says Januszczak. ‘this show has scores of artists from Latin America, from Japan, from Africa. from the new East European countries and a whole lot of unfamiliar things. It is almost certain to be a revelation for most of us who don‘t know that

Documenta, like any eclectic festival. has always attracted its fair share ofdebatc and argument. This one is no exception. with the D-mark 16 million budget coming under fire from liberal weekly broadsheet. Die Zeit as Germany‘s unification costs escalate. Rounle will attempt to capture some of the controversies with a live discussion at the end of the show when Hoet will be confronted with a number of artists, critics and commentators. No doubt the exchanges will be lively, but it should offer McDonald and Pike the chance to create a unique Scottish—American alliance of presenters.

Round IX starts at 8pm on Sat 13 on Channel 4. Round Midnight follows at 1 0pm. with Defender Of The Faith: an A meriean Chronicles profile of George Foreman, at 12.25am. After two baseball shorts: Dog Baseball and Break, Channel 4 goes live to Wrigley Field, Chicago, for the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Montreal Expos, which pitches off at I am.

_ Ten years on

it's ditticult to escape being reminded otthe tact that 1992 Is the tenth anniversary oi the Falklands War, the conflict that launched a thousand catchphrases from ‘Las Malvlnas son Argentinas’ through ‘Reioice’ to “Gotcha’. We’ve already had the documentary series, taking a step by step look at the war, now the 880 are olierlng us two dramas that take contrasting approaches to events in the South Atlantic.

‘iumbledown you will be iamlliar with

already. Originally shown in 1988, Its controversial depiction at one man's

personal hell at the hands at both Argentine snipers and British bureaucracy aroused the predictable wrath oi Tory backbenchers, but also won an award tor the best single drama at the year.

A new ‘docu-drama’, An Ungentiemaniy Act is unlikely to cause such a storm, although eyebrows may be raised at Its tragI-comlc tone. it closely ioilows events during the first iew hours oi the Argentine invasion, with material collated by Interviewing all the islanders present at the time,

and military personnel from both sides.

Both plot and script are based on the factual accounts provided by the islanders and soldiers.

According to writer/director Stuart Urban, the production aims to show

how a group oi Individuals, caught up In events well out ol their control, find themselves laced with some big dilemmas. Producer Bradley Adams explains that the emphasis is very strongly on the individuals who iound themselves In an extraordinary situation, and their reactions to what was happening. “The film is an attempt to show the human story at war,’ he says, “it looks at the characters who had to deal with the personal side at a world political event. Forthe residents of the Falklands, it was like having a war In their back garden.’ (Klrsty Mackenzie).

Tumbledown ls shown on 8861 on Monday 8 June at 10.10pm.

,An Ungentiemaniy Act is on 3801 on

Saturday 13 June.


OOThe List5-18June 1992