documenta Halle

documenta Halle, photo: Mathias Völzke

Beyond its obvious postmodern invocations, documenta Halle seems like a body reclining on the slope that brings visitors from Friedrichsplatz to the Orangerie and Karlsaue park—an organism of steel and glass that heats up in summer and remains cold in winter. When it was inaugurated for documenta 9 in 1992, that edition’s director, Jan Hoet, compared the documenta Halle to the Acropolis in order to encourage citizens of Kassel to be proud of this recent addition to the city. Now, twenty-five years later, facing the Parthenon (of books) thanks to Marta Minujín, documenta Halle is a site of scored and libidinal movement.

In the first part of the building, movement is initiated downward with an ensemble of works that deals with the range between score and notation, on the one hand, and the act of performance on the other, with the building’s “cabinets” introducing form and color to the stage. Listening Space Kassel is also present on a mezzanine with a view onto Friedrichsplatz. Its audio archive of the various ongoing sound-based events in Athens are experienced via headphones, extending its public and offering a condensed sonic counterpoint to the visual identity of Kassel. Listening becomes a means to trace the physical space and time of Athens, its architecture, audiences, and performances, from within Germany.

Moving on through the main hall of the documenta Halle offers a concerto that transforms the musical score into utterances of a different kind: unexpected musical instruments, a score that weaves together its own words, and a stage that adjusts the space of the exhibition. At the end of the hall there is a ray of sunlight, its heat sustaining the natural material that may grow there but that cannot take root. Movement ends with a passage that will reset the stage, through the exit that leads to the Karlsaue, completing the nonchalant stretch of the lean architecture itself.

Posted in Public Exhibition


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