Every five years the art world gathers in the German city of Kassel for a sprawling and usually provocative exhibition known as Documenta. It was here that Joseph Beuys, Richard Serra, and Vito Acconci presented some of their most innovative works. As essential as the Venice Biennale, Documenta is often more ambitious. This installment, the 11th since 1955, is being curated by the Nigerian-born 38-year-old Okwui Enwezor, who founded the influential African art journal NKA.

Assembling a show on this scale isn't easy. "You have to be more than a connoisseur," Enwezor says. "It's not just about whether it looks good or doesn't look good. My interest is in artists working out of an awareness of the postcolonial condition, out of that socio-political shift." Fittingly, this Documenta will present pieces by artists such as Feng Mengbo, known for video game—inspired works on Chinese history with titles like Game Over: The Long March, and Swiss-born Thomas Hirschhorn, whose installations use deliberately banal materials to map the geopolitical landscape. Of the more than 100 works by artists old and new, 40 were commissioned for the exhibition. "Documenta 11" will be held June 8—September 15;