DOCUMENTA KASSEL 16/06-23/09 2007

d9 1992

Jan Hoet, artistic director of documenta 9 in 1992, described the exhibition as “a documenta of locations” and one based “solely on the artist and his work”. In not pursuing a theoretical concept with documenta 9, or offering a general thematic context, Hoet effectively broke with a documenta principle that had decisively shaped the exhibition's character at least since d5. Instead, Hoet saw the essential task of contemporary art to be to provide real subjective experiences in order to counter a reality that increasingly slipped into the virtual realm. The video installation “Anthro/Sozio” (1992) by Bruce Nauman can be considered a paramount example of this phenomenon. Displayed in the entrance hall of the Fridericianum, it took as its topic the physical threat to the subject. Equally, the outside installation “Toilet” (1992) could be interpreted in this manner, for Russian artist Ilya Kabakov had a public Russian toilet reproduced, and made recognizable as an apartment by positioning used furniture and personal belongings within it.. Hoet adopted an emotional approach, and the exhibition was experience-oriented, though he made no attempt to impose a systematic structure on the diversity of the contemporary art scene it or to evaluate it according to current norms. Simultaneously, Hoet succeeded in gaining a large number of additional exhibition spaces which had not previously been occupied by documenta, and extended the exhibition's active radius to seven buildings and countless locations in the public domain. Alongside the classic locations of Fridericianum and Orangerie, new exhibition venues included: the Neue Galerie (New Gallery); the staircase of the AOK health insurance company, and the Ottoneum (housing a natural-history museum), temporary buildings in the Karlsaue Park and the newly erected documenta hall behind the theatre, designed by architects Jochem Jourdan and Bernhard Müller. The character of the art displayed in these locations was in part adapted to the peculiarities of the setting. The works in the New Gallery, for example, were installed as commentaries on the existing permanent collection. Alternately, the principle of 'displacement' was applied, under which objects were showcased in alien contexts such as the natural history collections of the Ottoneum.

The accompanying program of d9 included jazz, as well as boxing and baseball. This extension of the presentation concept was understood as a central metaphor for art and life, and was responsible in no small way for the enormous popularity of d9. For the first time in the history of the documenta more than half a million people traveled to Kassel.


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