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Progress, Piety and Mess

BY JOE MARTIN LIN-HILL

Rummaging through the debris of Documentas past and present

ALFREDO JAAR, 1+1+1, 1987, photographic installation that was commissioned for Documenta 8, Kassel. 

Copyright Alfredo Jaar. Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York.


“History’s a mess,” the late art historian Robert Rosenblum used to say, his lulling monotone masking the encyclopedic expanse of his knowledge, “Never so neat as it seems in the books.” How much more messy this marvelously catholic mind, steeped in history’s minutiae, would think things are now, when “global” has displaced “the West” as the
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