Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Documenta 12 takes a beating.

After being savaged by the English-language press earlier in the month, Documenta 12 has now been ravaged by the elements, with Ai Weiwei's Template collapsing in high winds last week. In more recent days, the Plastic Palace has failed to keep Kassel's heavy rains out with roof vents found to be faulty and refusing to close (although we are happy to report there have been no fatalities of either art or art lovers, excluding Template, that is). On low land near the river, the Aue Pavilion is fast becoming the Eau Pavilion, so bring your Wellington boots if you're planning to visit anytime soon. With 90 days to go, let's hope the rest holds together for late arrivals.

Is modernity our antiquity? Well, the ruins of Documenta 12 would certainly suggest as much.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Zeitraum gardens

Work continues at MuseumZeitraum Leipzig toward our mission of opening to the public next summer. This week the foundations went in for our garden terrace. The terrace is a tribute to one of Johann's best known works, his photograph of the Freundschaftstempel in Potsdam, 1896 (below).

Frederick the Great had this small, elegant temple built in 1768 in memory of his sister, Wilhemine of Bayreuth by Gontard, according to his own sketches and plans. It was modelled on the Temple of Apollo in the Amalthea garden at Neuruppin, court architect Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff's first work.

Is modernity our antiquity? Hmmm... the lines blur!
JOHANN DIETER WASSMANN, Freundschaftstempel, Potsdam, 1896. Albumen silver print, 18 x 23 cm, WF 743020.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Is modernity our antiquity?

Earlier this evening I was delighted to bump into curator Abigail von Bibera at Documenta 12's Museum Fridericianum. Over drinks she made the observation that the creative process behind Hazoume Romould's African 'masks'(see below) struck her as remarkably similar to the thinking that must have gone into Johann Dieter Wassmann's Prince Otto von Bismarck, 1896, pictured here. Good spot Abigail. Which again raises the question, is modernity our antiquity? Or as I discussed in an earlier blog, is it just our Hotel California?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

First Look: Hazoume Romuald @ Documenta 12

Is modernity our antiquity? Hazoume Romuald proffers an answer.

The morning after the night before.

With revelers still wandering the streets of Kassel from the opening party last night, Documenta 12 is just a few hours away from officially opening to the public. Here's a photo op from earlier in the week of the artists selected for this year's event. I've uploaded a fairly large file, so click on it to enlarge if you want to better see who's who. While I managed a sneak preview of several venues yesterday, Walter Robinson has written quite a comprehensive piece for ArtNet so click through for his first impressions and I'll fill you in with more in the coming days.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Is modernity our antiquity? The answer is nigh.

Documenta 12 doesn't officially open till the weekend, but a number of works have been erected in public spaces here in Kassel and they're already drawing interest from locals and early arrivals. This afternoon I ran out to have a look at Shipwreck and Workers (version 3) (pictured) by Allan Sekula at the Herkules (mentioned in my last post). The work comprises a progression of large photograghs, several of which can be seen here to right of the Wasserspiel. Sekula hails from Erie, PA and was also heavily featured in Documenta 11.

Unfortunately, the rain that plagued the opening days of the Venice Biennale seems to have followed the art mob north and moments ago began bucketing down in droves as I waited for my tram back into town from Schloss Wilhelmshöhe. With more of the same forecast throughout the weekend, let's hope King Roger's Plastic Palace isn't made of cotton candy.

Blackberry permitting, I'll duly keep you posted. Tschüss.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

1 down, 2 to go.

As the art hoards head north from Venice to Basel this week, the citizens of Kassel are enjoying one last moment of calm before the onslaught begins on their own city, with the opening of Documenta 12 this weekend.

Several readers have asked advice on what else there is to do in Kassel beyond Documenta, with the standard reply being, "Nothing," but I beg to differ. Kassel's museums offer a cabinet of curiosities well worth pursuing when you need a break from the newest and latest at Documenta. While The German Wallpaper Museum may not be to everyone's liking, the home of the Brothers Grimm is a short walk from main Documenta venues, offering a welcome respite. Across the street from the Grimms is the Neue Gallery, featuring perhaps Joseph Beuys best known work, The Pack, 1969 (above), as well as many landmark German paintings from the late 20th century.

Even closer to Documenta is the rather fabulous Museum of Natural History in the Ottoneum. You'll pass it daily walking from the Museum Fridericianum to L'Orangerie, but few of Document's 650,000 viewers will ever step into this marvelous little museum of wonders.

Also worth a diversion is Schloss Wilhelmshöhe on the edge of town, which houses the Old Masters Gallery. Choose a Wednesday or Sunday and you'll experience one of the great marvels of eighteenth century mechanical engineering, as you watch the Wasserspiel cascade down the mountain in it's half hour trek from the Herkules statue on the summit, finishing in a 52 meter jet of water in the gardens of the Schloss.

Unlike Venice and Basel, opening night in Kassel is a public event, with a grand party for the entire city kicking off Friday night.

Is modernity our antiquity? Finally, we'll learn the truth according to Roger & Ruth this weekend. See you there.