“One can trace fascinating routes in terms of the economic interest that impels travel—and documenta, though much smaller than many other types of economic players, is now one of these interests. For centuries, especially in the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries, Asia Minor and the whole basin of the Mediterranean was a place of frenetic traveling by families and businesses that were established in places like Constantinople, Alexandria, Odessa, and so forth.
This history can be, of course, romanticized, via ideas of curiosity and discovery. For example, the Sikiarides family, the great Mediterranean traders of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, organized a new business of selling second-hand hats from Manchester to Istanbul after Kemal Atatürk came to power and decided to ban the fez. Coincidentally or not, the site and buildings of their Athenian textile factory became the government’s property when Sikiaridis went out of business and were given to the Athens School of Fine Arts in 1992. Seemingly paradoxical, the history of trade and industry allows us to understand the current predicament quite precisely.”
Adam Szymczyk, documenta 14