PAVILLON KOOPERATIVE FÜR DARSTELLUNGSPOLITIK
PAVILLON Kooperative für Darstellungspolitik (KDP), 2009 at the Platz der Freiwilligen Schützen in Graz. (c) KDP, Berlin
Perhaps it was not unlike the way in which the beatnik Rolf Dieter Brinkmann strolled around the streets of Cologne in the late 1960s, audio taping his descriptions of all that he found, that the PAVILLON of the Kooperative für Darstellungspolitik (KDP) was preceded by a walking tour of the city aimed at preparing a “spatial recording” of the streets and squares of Graz. The co-operative noted the existing infrastructure, the distinctive urban features in the center and the surrounding area, the existing social uses, and the requirements placed on temporary architecture. They used standard sheathing of the kind often employed on building sites so that they could finally start building the PAVILLON. However, the KDP inverts the visual and spatial imperatives for making building site reinforcements. The PAVILLON's supporting structure faces the square, in other words: outwards. As a result, the inward-facing sides of the interlocking sheathing create an exhibition area. Things that are normally concealed are not kept from us, but openly displayed. Created by integrating found objects (such as a streetlamp that no longer serves to illuminate the street) and inverting standards, the roofless PAVILLON generates an interior outdoor space in the open air. Seen from the outside, the structure resembles a film set, while the visibility of structure transforms the interior into a performance venue. At this point, the boundary folds in and out like an accordion book, advertising an exhibition on art and public space that consists of pictures and texts, presenting forty-six projects on a gallery of yellow wallboards. Furthermore, the PAVILLON provides a setting for artists’ talks, film shows, and discussions: fleeting events which, catering to topical interests, are planned for the new construction in 2010. Whereas the “as-found,” created by the intervention at the square identifies itself as a “site,” the enclosed space forms a set for staging curatorial ideas and events. Hence, the PAVILLON does not function as an infobox. On the set, people rehearse, take photographs, and film – the audience is imagined, designated, and programmed. The folding in and out – at the square – of both space and the public creates a role play in which both the guests and the actors move between the stage and the backstage, the exterior and the interior, between the real and the staged.
Yellow sheathing, scaffolding, a prefabricated staircase, an inkjet print on wood – the KDP regards the selected materials and technologies not as a means to an end, but as elements constituting the PAVILLON itself. One of the yellow wall panels on the interior displays a text on Matha Rosler’s project Housing Is a Human Righ (1990–1992), which was realized in Saint Louis, Missouri (US), among other places. In 1972, to mark the demolition (with explosives) of the Pruitt-Igoe residential complex, architecture critic Charles Jencks proclaimed the failure of the Modernists in this very Saint Louis, in order to ring in the age of the Language of Post-Modern Architecture. At around the same time, he published another book Adhocism: The Case for Improvisation. This ad-hoc practice divests existing objects of their bureaucratic purpose in order to make them available for the immediate needs of each specific user for an infinite variety of usages. Depending on the particular need and not the norm. Although the KDP’s spatial concept certainly strives, in many ways, to move towards the “unitary urbanism” of the radical International Situationists of the 1950s-1960s, in the case of the PAVILLON the use of the above-mentioned standards for unintended purposes is more apt. These standards, corresponding to an acute, on-the-spot need, annul systems and spatial codes of behavior that are regulated from the outside. Hence, the outdoor interior also provides an environment for everyday personal needs outside the framework of officially planned agendas. However, we know that even the steirischer herbst operates through the supervision of the authorities and institutions. And the continuing practice of art in public space – including its ability to express and deal with criticism – has meanwhile transformed some unintended uses into standard responses. Hence, when curator Sabine Breitwieser’s introductory text declares that the PAVILLON contains a historical-chronological survey not only of projects in public space but also, and above all, of the commissioning policy thereof, then ad-hoc practice has reached its limitations as far as the PAVILLON is concerned. “Using according to need,” therefore, can only be a suggestion that might help us to distinguish different spaces and states of institutionalization.
Performance of Space
The PAVILLON, which was first constructed in 2009 at the Platz der Freiwilligen Schützen in Graz, is now being erected at Tummelplatz within the framework of the steirischer herbst / Styrian Autumn 2010. The first time round, the PAVILLON stood on scaffolding, as if it were on a rostrum. Its reading table was relocated to the city library. At Tummelplatz, it is on ground level and opens out in a less formal manner onto the street, Hans-Sachs-Gasse. There is one important difference, though: the second exhibition accompanies a co-operation project undertaken with the students of the Institute for Contemporary Art at Graz Technical University. In the workshops, a series of events on art in public space is being prepared. The form of presentation will change in line with requirements: In the PAVILLON there will be a lecture, discussion and a film in the room niches administered by the students. The niches loosen up the structure of the space planned for the events. Although the PAVILLON assumes different forms, the spatial concept nonetheless corresponds in its realization like a music score to a performance, or a film script to the filming. Not unlike the performance practices of Group Material, Clegg & Guttmann, and Dan Graham, whom we can read about in PAVILLON, the KDP’s design is intended as a sort of concept paper that can activate centers of activity at other places, too, in relation to alternating conditions. In other words: a political zone is activated not at the moment the PAVILLON is erected, but only via interaction with its performance. Hence, a certain space can only be politicized once its politicization is linked to the duration of social processes.
Document / Monument
In marked contrast to all the other contributions to Utopia and Monument, the interaction – in the PAVILLON – of the exhibiting system (“the display”) will be rigorously connected with that which is exhibited (“on display”). Sabine Breitwieser compiled the texts and the images, which document a chronology of projects in public space and are exhibited as an “incomplete collage” in the PAVILLON. In co-operation with graphic designer Matthias Görlich, Berlin, a layout has been prepared for the “exhibition” in the PAVILLON that generates the tangible dynamics of spatial visual perception. The sheathing not only forms the architectural wall and floor elements, but is itself transformed – by virtue of the specific qualities of the material – into an object, while simultaneously serving as a display for texts and images. Display strategies render the curatorial idea legible in relation to the various elements configuring the exhibition space. The conception and production process weaves the curator’s documents, the specific local spatial conditions and the architectural and design practice of the KDP into a relational system. If curating primarily entails activating a network in order to create both space and a public, then the KDP’s practice can be described as curatorial. Similar overlaps in various forms of exhibiting can be found in other KDP projects, too, as in the exhibition architecture for In der Wüste der Moderne (2008) at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin and the Berlin Documentary Forum I (2010) – including the interconnection of the roles of architect and curator: A member of the KDP served as a co-curator of the exhibition Soziale Diagramme (2008) at the Künstlerhaus Stuttgart. Considered from an institutional point of view, the PAVILLON is an architectural body with an exhibition display and, therefore, not an exhibit. Considered from a curatorial point of view, however, the architecture conceptualizes a space for events, which becomes public and becomes an exhibit by being displayed. With respect to the exhibition (projected to last two years), which coincides with the Styrian Autumn and bears the title “Monument,” the event, the temporality, and the unpredictability of the process of exhibiting transmogrify the PAVILLON into a form of monument. Even so, the monument is to be sought, as a public site, in the temporally restricted, plural staging of an interior space outdoors.
Published in: steirischer herbst / Sabine Breitwieser (Eds), Utopia and Monument, Graz, 2010