Report from Kassel: Got back

Report from Kassel: Got back Saturday, after an ultimately successful and fulfilling trip, but with entirely too much driving. Friday afternoon, the Documenta technical office installed a new monitor in the Ashkin piece, calibrated the timing of the three monitors, and started it up again–all under the watchful eyes of Okwui Enwezor, Carlos Basualdo, and myself. (It turns out the Ashkin was the only piece in the entire show not visible on Thursday, so it would’ve been a priority for them even if I hadn’t turned up.) Okwui was effusive and smooth in his apologies, and they were both stoked about the piece, which they’d first seen at Andrea Rosen Gallery in Jan. 2000. [click on “artists” and “michael ashkin” to see stills and installation photos.] People seemed to respond well to the piece, at least during the 90 minutes or so that I watched it. The video consists of shots (with fixed camera & ambient sound) of an overgrown, abandoned proving ground at Sandy Hook, NJ, which progress on three large monitors. These multiple views create a very spatial experience, an understanding of this otherwise unreadable (or at least unusual) landscape. Basically, it rocked.
While waiting for the afternoon installation of the monitor, I was able to watch most of most of the Igloolik documentaries (that’s not a typo). It was both a revelation and a relief; these shows were clearly prelude to Atanarjuat, both in story and technical terms. It takes at least a little pressure off to know that it didn’t just spring fully formed from Zacharias Kunuk’s head and win Best First Feature Award at Cannes.