Posted October 9, 2017 by Cooper Point Journal in Arts & Culture

Jessica Maia Rasmussen

Cover Artist

Jessica Maia Rasmussen, a senior at Evergreen, left the ART/ WORK program in the Spring to work as a exhibition intern at documenta14 in Kassel, Germany. Documenta is an arts exhibition started as a post-war revitalization project in 1955, that has historically focused on conceptual art. For documenta14, the exhibition takes the form of a “bi-locational” event that took place in Kassel, Germany and Athens, Greece, in hopes that it will draw the attention of the art world towards the refugee crisis and the questions that emerge from it. Jessica Maia Rasmussen is now working on finishing her academic statement to formally graduate before pursuing more training in classical painting in Chicago.

I applied to the exhibition documenta14 because I was interested in studying an exhibition that was politically engaged. In my senior program Art/Work I was studying art theory, philosophy, and studio arts which supported my interest and pursuit in documenta. This exhibition was founded in Germany as a form of cultural revival after WWII. Additionally, since the GDR was recently active in Germany the history is embedded in various ways of thinking about government.

I began an internship in the exhibition department a few weeks before the opening of the 100 day bi-locational exhibition. I was an assistant for project managers, curatorial assistance and curators. My most involved project was with Irena Haiduk. One thing included project management for one of her performance art pieces—Spinal Discipline. In this, I would do hospitality care, administrative work, time-sheets, and manage the performance weekly. The performance was a group of “Sirens” walking around the city of Kassel balancing Marcel Proust literature on their head. My day-to-day tasks were actually quite mundane. And I would say I sold a part of my soul through a 50-70 hour work week, however, my deep dedication and belief for the projects and exhibition supported being able to be so overworked. With that being said, in the end I realized that my labor is one of the most precious things I own and have to offer.

At Evergreen I was interested in the relationship between the public/private and, while documenta conceptually questioned that, nothing about my leisure life was separated from my work/public life. Everything from eating, socializing, working was centered around documenta. My colleagues and I experienced ourselves as being documenta. There was an ambivalence of what the work was saying and the reality behind the scenes. Work was presented on gender and sexuality yet most of the team lacked sexual diversity. Work on exploitation yet the exhibition was made possible through exploitation. Even though documenta is doing important socio-political work, it still exists as a non-for profit organization, which loosely means its stakeholders hold agency over the content and distribution of funds. This provides contention between the politicians, artistic director, artists, and visitors.

In the end, my engagement was prominently as assistant to The Parliament of Bodies—curated by Paul Preciado—which was the Public Programs of documenta14. Some tasks included but were not limited to project/participant research, hospitality care for speakers/performers, and on-site technical assistance. We had a variety of programs in the evening: anything from Redefining the Idea of Global Left to movie premiers. Like that of Fluido which discussed the commodification of sexual fluids. While discussions around aesthetics in terms of “what is art?” are important in an exhibition, I found that The Parliament of Bodies could put it secondary to the fact that most visitors are citizens, which brought in questions of civic responsibility.

The Parliament of Bodies was the foster parent to the thesis work I started before I left Evergreen. While in Art/Work I was researching theories of intimacy; studying how intimacy developed out of the private and into the social sphere.