KASSEL, Germany—Iraqi Kurdistan artist Hiwa K‘s tubular domicile structure comprised of 20 ceramic sewer pipes premiered at Documenta 14, which takes place at different venues across the city (June – September, 2017). Located outdoors at the Friedrichsplatz, Hiwa K’s When We Were Exhaling installation contained a participatory dimension and collective approach imploring observers to venture into the pipes, each encompassing an aspect of home life: a library, sleeping quarters, a bathroom, even an herb garden among many others.
The structure appears to serve as an explicit refuge for those experiencing homelessness, who often use the sewer as a transitional home. Hiwa K’s tubular habitats bring the gutter-punk existence to the forefront, no longer hidden in plain sight, no longer able to be disregarded.
Living Love writes Documenta artistic director Adam Szymczyk describes (in a crude German translation) Hiwa K as a “social realist, which is about the reinvention of the found reality”.
The ‘ugly’ reality of the sewer pipes and their refugee history behind it, the reinvention of something beautiful, a work of art that everyone likes.
Hiwa K collaborated with 13 design students from the Kunsthochschule Kassel, who were allowed to design the rooms in the tubes
Documenta, confronting the hoarding neoliberal art collector, The Daily Maverick writes, takes a humanist approach to art and explores how it serves humanity.
At a time when so much is unstable globally, Documenta seems like a beacon to the belief in art. Compelling, challenging issues of the day are tackled head-on.
This is art with purpose and power.
Watch these two videos from Documenta 14. (Sorry the first is an interview with the Hiwa K in German, the second takes you on a 360 journey around the installation)
Do you love or loathe this artwork from the world of contemporary ceramic art and contemporary ceramics. Let us know in the comments.