As part of dOCUMENTA (13), a number of workshops, seminars and other activities took place in Kabul and Bamiyan. Involving artists, art writers, and thinkers, these events fostered the discussion of key questions and materials introduced by the exhibition held in Kabul from June 20 to July 19, 2012. The seminars were organized in partnership with several Afghan public cultural institutions active in different fields such as visual arts, music, theater, and film.
In the seminar Art Histories in the Form of Notes held in February 2012, for example, notions such as art, history, tradition, the contemporary, experiment, life, and imagination were examined from different points of view, taking the device of the written note to represent a condition in which concepts, ideas, and memorandums are jotted down in a provisional way, underlining their potentiality and hypothetical value. Subsequent seminars focused on different, entangled areas of artistic reflection and intervention such as: how to deal with language, translation, and mediation as hypothetical switches between understanding and misunderstanding, and as critical actions where truth is constantly negotiated; how to transcend geopolitical categories of inclusion and exclusion; how to explore archives as a public site; how simple material taken from the everyday environment or the body, can enlighten an approach that provides an unexpected space for radical freedom, increasing states of emancipation and empowerment and exploring notions of transformation and embodiment.
Stemming from these seminars, the exhibition comprised works mainly produced in Afghanistan that engaged the audience in a dialogue full of correspondences between siege and diaspora, collapse and recovery, memory and fantasy, past and future. They also proposed mutual evocations of the history of two cities, Kabul and Kassel, both of which have witnessed destruction through war and the need for physical reconstruction and mental retrieval, becoming stages where our present is represented or transcended.