Aue Pavilions - Documenta IX  Kassel, Germany, 1992

© Kristien Daem

© Kristien Daem

© Kristien Daem

Client
Documenta Gmbh

Location
Kassel, Germany

Date
1992

Status
completed and dismounted

Architects
Robbrecht en Daem architecten

Collaborators 
Sofie Delaere
Brigitte D'Hoore
Wim Cuyvers
Hugo Vanneste

The Aue pavilions were temporarily built for the hundred days of Documenta IX in Kassel and formed one of the components housing the contemporary art
exhibitions. Visited by six-hundred-thousand people, the pavilions showcased the work of twenty-eight artists. The Building was situated in the extensive baroque parkof Friedrichs' Aue's. This park lies sixteen metres below the nearby Friedrichsplatz from where one could look down on the pavilions from above and across to the hills of East Saxony on the horizon. At the time that the pavilions were being designed, Saxony was still part of East Germany.

During talks with the Documenta team it was decided not to turn the Aue park into a sculpture park but fully to retain its status as landscape, serving as an extension of the Documenta manifestations concentrated in the city centre. And from this vision emerged the idea of returning painting - or what stands as painting in contemporary art - to its origins : landscape stretching away from the horizon. This formed the underlying motivation for the Aue Pavilions. A sequence of pavilions was grouped on an axis which extended tangentially to the park structure. The buildings were a crystallization of the various successive zones which constitute the landscape. This was a low-budget construction with a temporary character built-up from an elementary steel structure of successive arched porticos. Raised up from the ground this light ephemeral edifice served as carrier for the illusory nature of painting - in some way defying gravity. The exterior walls consisted of light, profiled-steel sheeting with on the east side a continuous glazed wall. The paintings inside turned like signboards towards the landscape, towards the world. Railway carriages strung together : the building as metaphor for transport, in particular for the nomadic situation of works of art that in the current set-up can find no permanent home. Displacement : also in the image of the metropolis, the underground train stranded in a romantic German landscape. A sort of inverse dynamic.

Elevated above the bright grass, the building generated a social climate that developed around and under the pavilions. There was a continuous succession of encounters, picnics, conversations and moments of rest. The zigzag arrangement of containers, and the footbridges and sloping ground meant that the building became used as a promenade building in a park. Shades of Paxton's infinitely vaster Crystal Palace that was also built to house an exhibition and subsequently taken down and moved.

We discussed with each artist the specific spatial context for their art. Iza Genzken chose a glass corner for her window-sculpture made of transparent artificial resin. Dan Graham constructed a parallelogram-shaped portal at an intersection between two pavilions. Raoul de Keyser hung his white paintings with black paint flecks in an ephemeral space furnished with a bench. For Gerhard Richter we designed a cabinet entirely faced with walnut veneer. We recognized in his work - in the strip-like brushstrokes of his paintings - a sort of vegetal, iris-like morphology. This striped structure contrasted with the grain of the wood. The art cabinet and its bourgeois background provoked considerable discussion. The Aue Pavilions were dismantled at the end of Documenta and the steel structure was transported to the Netherlands, where the entire edifice was reconstructed in Almere and once again serves as an art pavilion. The arrangement of the individual pavilions has altered and the building - now set against the artificial landscape of Flevoland - stands like a caravan park on the edge of the new centre of Almere. Once again the building resonates an informal temporariness.