More opaque in deconstructing film’s limitless capacity to distort perception were works by Uri Tzaig of Israel, who videotaped a ludicrous game of soccer played with two balls, and Copenhagen Joachim Koester’s filming of a standing audience watching a string quartet. Both filmmakers tampered with rather benign situations that at first appeared as straight documentation. With Tzaig’s The Universal Square (1996), the soccer match’s narration became a slow process of unraveling the futility of the game presented; and with Koester’s film, viewers of the ensemble became the central performers, effectively blurring the distinction of presented reality and its ultimate fictional account on film.

Despite the lengthy list of recognizable names, documenta X included numerous artists not in world-wide circulation. Artists like Germany’s Dorothee Golz (who creates faux-futurist domestic units encased in plastic bubbles) and London-based Siobhan Hapaska’s whose installation, Stray (1997), was a tumbleweed rigged to a moving track. They are unfamiliar names, in Canada at least, and likely to start appearing post-documenta. This is probably documenta’s most important role, even if the institutional processes that dictate a show of this scale is wholly subjective. Christian Philipp Muller’s installation/performance presented the most concise metaphor for the fallacious side of an art Olympiad. His performance was a walk across the fridericianum’s front lawn with tightrope slippers on and a balancing pole in his hands. Muller’s performance was a homage to two artists he greatly admires, Joseph Beuys and Walter de Maria, but he was also acting out the tenuous role of artists balancing the expectations that come with a show like documenta X.

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