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About the Work

Documenta was introduced to Kassel, a decade after the end of World War 2 by the Kassel-born architect and painter Arnold Bode, to show works banned as degenerate by the Nazis. It has since taken place every five years and has developed into the largest and most seriously-prestigious international exhibition of contemporary art in the world.

I usually feel when exhibiting in or visiting shows in Germany that the ghosts of the past are blanked out in the interests of examining the art of the present. At the 2002 Documenta, I attempted a circumvention.

My first port of call was the city archives which in Kassel consisted of floor-to-ceiling brown cardboard boxes, each filled with notes, drawings and photographs documenting the old city's growth and destruction. A major architectural casualty was the city's theatre, pictured here.

The second place to go took some finding. Hidden away in suburban Kassel is a big private collection of German military uniforms run by a retired soldier. He said he was puzzled that an English artist should see his exhibition before visiting the glitzy Documenta.

About Vaughan Grylls

Born 10th December 1943 in Newark, Nottinghamshire and attended art schools at Nottingham, Wolverhampton, Goldsmiths' and the Slade. He has taught at several art schools in the UK and the US.

From 1996 to 2005 he was Director of the Kent Institute of Art and Design. In 2005 he resigned to concentrate full-time on his own work after joining the Kent and the Surrey Institutes of Art and Design to make the University for the Creative Arts.

″I still use the same approach to my work: I get an idea, think of the title and then make the work. So not much has changed since 1964″

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