Documenta Was a Whole Vibe. Then a Scandal Killed the Buzz.

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KASSEL, Germany — No one knows just how big Documenta 15 is. The latest edition of the prestigious international art exhibition, which takes place every five years here, opened last Saturday and runs through mid-September. It resists all the usual metrics.

How many artists? Hard to say. Ruangrupa, the Indonesian collective that is this edition’s artistic director, invited 67 core participants — mostly grouped in collectives themselves — from outside the commercial art world, mainly from the Global South. Each invited group was allocated a budget, which they have used to involve other artists and collectives, so now over 1,000 people are showing work or rotating through Kassel to hold talks, stage performances, tend gardens, share food or otherwise commune and create. The roster has evolved, amoeba-like.

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