Public works in Kassel

Public space in Kassel differs from that of other cities by virtue of the presence of outstanding outdoor objects from past documenta exhibitions. The exhibition series has made programmatic use of its urban environment through the step-by-step occupation of new settings. Every documenta since 1977 has featured site-specific works of art conceived as interventions into or commentaries on their urban context. In search of opportunities for greater social impact, art reacts to an increasing extent to its socially defined environment as a means of gaining new credibility beyond the boundaries of the exhibition context.

Although all outdoor objects were originally planned as temporary exhibits, sixteen prominent installations have been permanently preserved: gifts or purchases of objects from documenta 6 (1977), documenta 7 (1982), DOCUMENTA IX (1992), documenta X (1997), and dOCUMENTA (13) (2012). Whether or not such works remain in place is not determined by a systematic acquisition policy, but depends instead on popular engagement and the commitment of artists and sponsors. Thus the works are subject to different ownership and custodianship arrangements.

The outdoor documenta objects differ not only in size and material composition but with respect to their artistic intentions as well. In any event, however, they represent important stages in the history of the world art exhibition and serve as examples of contemporary artistic approaches to urban and rural space at specific points in time.

Given their public impact, these installations are a constant focus of public interest. Their creation and acquisition are always subject to critical commentary by local citizens. The often controversial responses also reflect the changing arguments advanced in the discussion on art in public space.

Horst Baumann, Laserscape Kassel (1977)

Artwork photos by © Nils Klinger

Horst Baumann, Laserscape Kassel (1977)

The Laserscape Kassel installed by Horst H. Baumann for documenta 6 in 1977 brightens the sky over the city of Kassel every Saturday after dark.

As a nocturnal symbol of the documenta city, the world’s first permanent work of laser art weaves a web of spatial and temporal relationships among historical architectures with widely differing functions and historical origins. It connects octagonal cornerstones of the cultural landscape. The pattern of lines has been modified since 1977. A green beam proceeds from the Museum Fridericianum to the Hercules octagon. Another beam touches the tower of the Hessisches Landesmuseum on its way to the Hercules. Yet another is directed toward the central building of the Orangerie, where it is split into three vectors that trace the baroque axes of the park. Thus the web of colored light in the sky forms an immaterial cultural map of the city that is meant to inspire reflection on its history.


Laserscape Kassel
documenta 6, 1977
Zwehrenturm, Herkules, Hessisches Landesmuseum, Orangerie, Karlsaue, city space


Horst H. Baumann (Born in 1934 in Aachen) is a photographer, communication designer, and light artist in Düsseldorf. He develops laser technology as an artistic resource for indoor and outdoor installations. Bauman took part in documenta 6.


documenta 6: “Art in the media – media in art” is the slogan chosen by Artistic Director Manfred Schneckenburger to document contemporary art forms which investigate their own media-dependent determinants. The “media concept” was developed in various thematic complexes, such as photography, drawings, utopian design, and other sections of the exhibition. In addition to the major theme of “painting as the subject of painting,” considerable attention was focused on the new medium of video. New opportunities for expression in the field of tension between urban space and the natural landscape were explored in three-dimensional works. The principles of “horizontal sculpture” were also demonstrated in the Karlsaue.


More information: www.documenta-historie.de

Anatol Herzfeld, Das Traumschiff Tante Olga (Dreamship Aunt Olga) (1977)

Artwork photos by © Nils Klinger

Anatol Herzfeld, Das Traumschiff Tante Olga (Dreamship Aunt Olga) (1977)

Built by Anatol for documenta 6 in 1977, the Traumschiff Tante Olga is anchored on the grounds of the Heinrich-Schütz-Schule.

This fantasy vessel looks like a folded paper boat made by a child and stranded in a meadow. Drawn by a barge on a week-long journey from the North Sea resort of Dangast via Jade Bay and the Weser and Fulda Rivers, Anatol travelled in this ship to the opening of documenta 6 in Kassel. As ambassador of the artists’ association known as the “Freie Akademie Oldenburg,” he wanted to bring the dreams of children to the documenta city. The work is dedicated to Olga Tapken, the owner of a resort house in Dangast on the grounds of which Anatol’s “Free Academy” pursued its creative projects. The Dreamship was presented outside the Orangerie in the middle of the Karlswiese during the exhibition. It was later donated to the Heinrich-Schütz-Schule, where it still stands today.

Das Traumschiff Tante Olga (Dreamship Aunt Olga)
documenta 6, 1977
Polyester, wood, wire. 12 x 3 x 3 m
Heinrich-Schütz-Schule, Freiherr-vom-Stein-Straße 11, grounds of Graf-Bernadotte-Platz


Anatol (Born in 1931 as Karl-Heinz Herzfeld in Insterburg) is a blacksmith, policeman, and a cofounder of the artists’ association known as the “Freie Akademie Oldenburg,” which was modeled after Joseph Beuys’s “Freie Internationale Universität (FIU).” He works primarily on the museum island of Hombroich. Anatol took part in documenta 5, 6, and 7.


documenta 6: “Art in the media – media in art” is the slogan chosen by Artistic Director Manfred Schneckenburger to document contemporary art forms which investigate their own media-dependent determinants. The “media concept” was developed in various thematic complexes, such as photography, drawings, utopian design, and other sections of the exhibition. In addition to the major theme of “painting as the subject of painting,” considerable attention was focused on the new medium of video. New opportunities for expression in the field of tension between urban space and the natural landscape were explored in three-dimensional works. The principles of “horizontal sculpture” were also demonstrated in the Karlsaue.


More information: www.documenta-historie.de

Haus-Rucker-Co, Rahmenbau (1977)

Artwork photos by © Nils Klinger

Haus-Rucker-Co, Rahmenbau (1977)

Realized by Haus-Rucker-Co for documenta 6 in 1977, the Rahmenbau opens onto the Karlsaue City Park.

This accessible sculpture from the “Provisional Architecture” group serves as a gaze-directing device. It demonstrates the process of selective vision and the function of the picture frame. Suspended from an arm in front of a slightly inclined framework structure at the edge of the slope leading from Friedrichsplatz to the Karlsaue is a smaller frame. The frame cuts out a segment of reality and turns it into a landscape picture. Viewers who enter the installation become objects of observation themselves. Visitors who walk around the frame along a side walkway find themselves in the picture, where the experience of framing is repeated in the direction of the Orangerie. A view of the city center opens in the opposite direction. As an object devoted to the demonstration of perceptual theory, the Rahmenbau belongs to the same category as observatories, sundial structures, and other historical architectural works designed to help the individual find his place in the web of cosmic relationships.


Rahmenbau (Frame Construction) documenta 6, 1977 Steel, steel gridwork. 14 x 16.5 x 31 m Friedrichsplatz / Gustav-Mahler-Treppe


Haus-Rucker-Co: This group of architects, designers, and artists founded in Vienna by Laurids Ortner, Günter Zamp Kelp, and Klaus Pinter in 1967 and joined by Manfred Ortner in 1971 was involved in a number of projects devoted to architectural criticism and environmental issues until 1992. The group maintained a studio in Düsseldorf in 1970 and another in New York from 1971 to 1977. Haus-Rucker-Co took part in documenta 5, 6, and 8.


documenta 6: “Art in the media – media in art” is the slogan chosen by Artistic Director Manfred Schneckenburger to document contemporary art forms which investigate their own media-dependent determinants. The “media concept” was developed in various thematic complexes, such as photography, drawings, utopian design, and other sections of the exhibition. In addition to the major theme of “painting as the subject of painting,” considerable attention was focused on the new medium of video. New opportunities for expression in the field of tension between urban space and the natural landscape were explored in three-dimensional works. The principles of “horizontal sculpture” were also demonstrated in the Karlsaue.


More information: www.documenta-historie.de

Walter de Maria, Der Vertikale Erdkilometer (1977)

Artwork photos by © Nils Klinger

Walter de Maria, Der Vertikale Erdkilometer (1977)

The Vertical Earth Kilometer was installed by Walter De Maria in Friedrichsplatz Park for documenta 6 in 1977. With funding provided by the American Dia Art Foundation, Walter De Maria had a one-kilometer-long brass rod inserted vertically into the ground in the direction of the center of the Earth between the Fridericianum and the monument to Landgrave Karl. All that is visible at ground level is the upper end – the circular top surface of the rod – which is embedded in a square sandstone plate. Thus scarcely visible, the work is relegated to the realm of imagination. The radically reduced visual presence of the hidden rod is meant to prompt us to reflect on the Earth and its place in the universe. It may also be interpreted as a symbolic act of restoring a valuable metal to the exploited Earth. The virtually invisible object is located at the point in which Minimal, Conceptual, and Land Art intersect and thus represents three significant artistic strategies of the period. Its diverse aesthetic, historical, and cosmic references make The Vertical Earth Kilometer one of the most significant works of art produced in the second half of the 20th century.


The Vertical Earth Kilometer
documenta 6, 1977
Brass; length: 1 km; diameter: 2 inches; framing plate: sandstone, 2 x 2 m
Friedrichsplatz Park


Walter De Maria (Born in Albany, California, USA; died in 2013 in Los Angeles), was an important exponent of Minimal Art, Land Art, and Conceptual Art who took part in documenta 4, 5, and 6.


documenta 6: “Art in the media – media in art” is the slogan chosen by Artistic Director Manfred Schneckenburger to document contemporary art forms which investigate their own media-dependent determinants. The “media concept” was developed in various thematic complexes, such as photography, drawings, utopian design, and other sections of the exhibition. In addition to the major theme of “painting as the subject of painting,” considerable attention was focused on the new medium of video. New opportunities for expression in the field of tension between urban space and the natural landscape were explored in three-dimensional works. The principles of “horizontal sculpture” were also demonstrated in the Karlsaue.


More information: www.documenta-historie.de

Claes Oldenburg, Spitzhacke (Pickaxe) (1982)

Artwork photos by © Nils Klinger

Claes Oldenburg, Spitzhacke (Pickaxe) (1982)

Created for documenta 7, Claes Oldenburg’s Spitzhacke, rises imposingly towards the sky on the bank of the Fulda.

One of Claes Oldenburg’s best-known artistic techniques is that of alienating everyday objects by enlarging their dimensions and modifying their material composition. When the artist discovered a pickaxe at a construction site during preparations for documenta 7, he was inspired to produce an oversized replica of the object—an almost archaic tool that has closer ties to the years of reconstruction in Kassel than to today’s high-tech world. Originally conceived for purposes of provocation, Pop Art assumes a narrative character through this ironic gesture of pathos. The sculpture takes its place as an anecdote in the history and the topography of the city. The idyllic, seemingly random location near the river marks the point at which the extended axis of Wilhelmshöher Allee meets the bank of the Fulda. Thus the artist created the myth that Hercules, the ancient Greek demigod with superhuman strength, threw the monumental tool instead of his club from the heights of the Wilhelmhöhe Bergpark over the city, where it landed and remained stuck in the ground, pointing back to him.


Spitzhacke (Pickaxe)
documenta 7, 1982
Steel; height: 12 m
Bank of the Fulda River


Claes Oldenburg (Born in 1928 in Stockholm, Sweden) is one of the most prominent Pop Art sculptors concerned with the world of consumer goods. He lives in New York and took part in documenta 4 through 7.


documenta 7: Dutch museum director Rudi Fuchs conceived his documenta as an attempt to relieve contemporary art of the burden of societal constraints and allow it to be treated with dignity and respect. The exhibition celebrated the museum as the fitting contemporary refuge of what was regarded as autonomous art. Current trends, predominantly in painting, were arranged according to the dialog principle, with no attempt at theoretical justification whatsoever. The exhibited works were presented in a variety of different formal relationships. Although documenta 7 was oriented essentially to the museum context and responded only sparingly to public space, it left substantial traces in the cityscape nonetheless.


More information: www.documenta-historie.de

Joseph Beuys, 7000 Eichen. Stadtverwaldung statt Stadtverwaltung (1982-1987)

Artwork photos by © Nils Klinger

Joseph Beuys, 7000 Eichen. Stadtverwaldung statt Stadtverwaltung (1982-1987)

Begun by Joseph Beuys’s for documenta 7, 7000 Eichen — Stadtverwaldung statt Stadtverwaltung, is distributed throughout the entire city.

It took five years to clear the wedge-shaped pile of rocks on Friedrichsplatz and realize this social sculpture. The artist made his gift to the documenta city dependent on the condition that 7000 trees, each accompanied by a basalt stele, would be planted at 7000 locations all over the city. Like no other work of art in the world, the mature, still growing aesthetic organism intervenes radically and sustainably in the visual, ecological and social structure of the urban habitat in readily comprehensible ways. The forestation of the city was realized through constructive cooperation involving the artist, local government, and the citizens of Kassel. The first and last trees were planted in front of the Museum Fridericianum. Responsibility for the constant care and maintenance required for this sensitive work has been entrusted to the “7000 Oaks Foundation” since 2002. The work was declared a protected historical monument in 2004.


7000 Eichen – Stadtverwaldung statt Stadtverwaltung (7000 Oaks – City Forestation instead of City Administration)
documenta 7, 1982 – documenta 8, 1987
7000 trees, 7000 basalt stones
City space


Joseph Beuys (Born in 1921 in Krefeld, died in 1986 in Düsseldorf)
Developed the “expanded concept of art” and the theory of the “social sculpture.” He is internationally recognized as the most important and influential German artist in recent years. Beuys took part in documenta 3 through DOCUMENTA IX.


documenta 7: Dutch museum director Rudi Fuchs conceived his documenta as an attempt to relieve contemporary art of the burden of societal constraints and allow it to be treated with dignity and respect. The exhibition celebrated the museum as the fitting contemporary refuge of what was regarded as autonomous art. Current trends, predominantly in painting, were arranged according to the dialog principle, with no attempt at theoretical justification whatsoever. The exhibited works were presented in a variety of different formal relationships. Although documenta 7 was oriented essentially to the museum context and responded only sparingly to public space, it left substantial traces in the cityscape nonetheless.


More information: www.documenta-historie.de

Ulrich Rückriem, Ein Granitblock… (1982)

Artwork photos by © Nils Klinger

Ulrich Rückriem, Ein Granitblock… (1982)

Installed by Ulrich Rückriem for documenta 7 in 1982, the work entitled Ein Granitblock (330 x 180 x 100 cm) in 3 Teile gespalten / Der mittlere Teil in 4 Teile geschnitten / Alle Teile zur ursprünglichen Blockform zusammengefügt / Der untere Teil als Fundament in die Erde eingelassen, stands on the grounds of the Museum Neue Galerie.

A solid block of impressive clarity occupies the axis of the “Schöne Aussicht” (Beautiful Prospect) between Friedrichsplatz and the neoclassical “Frühstückspavilion.” The title of the work simply cites the steps in the artist’s work process. The minimalistic cube challenges viewers to reflect on the manner in which the stone was processed and to comprehend the procedures involved in its violation, including the process of restoring it to its original condition. Evidence of the fundamental techniques of splitting and cutting is still visible as scars in the form of drill holes, broken edges, and cut lines on the otherwise unprocessed surfaces. Rückriem’s granite block represents a type of sculpture that does not destroy its material by subjecting it to the will of the artist; it seeks instead to achieve its own expressive effect respectfully in the course of the search for its lost wholeness.


Ein Granitblock (330 x 180 x 100 cm) in 3 Teile gespalten / Der mittlere Teil in 4 Teile geschnitten / Alle Teile zur ursprünglichen Blockform zusammengefügt / Der untere Teil als Fundament in die Erde eingelassen
(A Block of Granite (330 x 180 x 100 cm) split into three parts / The middle section cut into four pieces / All parts restored to the original block shape / The lower section set in the ground as a foundation)
documenta 7, 1982
Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel, Neue Galerie, grounds


Ulrich Rückriem (Born in 1938 in Düsseldorf) developed a minimalistic, process-oriented concept of the sculpture as a work of art in public space. He took part in documenta 5, 7, 8, and DOCUMENTA IX.


documenta 7: Dutch museum director Rudi Fuchs conceived his documenta as an attempt to relieve contemporary art of the burden of societal constraints and allow it to be treated with dignity and respect. The exhibition celebrated the museum as the fitting contemporary refuge of what was regarded as autonomous art. Current trends, predominantly in painting, were arranged according to the dialog principle, with no attempt at theoretical justification whatsoever. The exhibited works were presented in a variety of different formal relationships. Although documenta 7 was oriented essentially to the museum context and responded only sparingly to public space, it left substantial traces in the cityscape nonetheless.


More information: www.documenta-historie.de

Max Neuhaus, Three to one (1992)

Artwork photos by © Nils Klinger

Max Neuhaus, Three to one (1992)

Realized for DOCUMENTA IX in 1992, the sound installation Three to One by Max Neuhaus can be heard on the stairway of the AOK Hessen – Beratungscenter Kassel-City.

The striking glass-walled stairway in one of the earliest buildings erected in the course of post-war reconstruction in Kassel served as the backbone of Jan Hoet’s exhibition topography. Max Neuhaus filled this central setting with an electronic sound installation that extends through a series of slight modifications over three stories. Each level is assigned its own sustained tone and characterized by a unique timbre. Devoid of visible elements, the “sound work” develops an acoustic structure that unfolds at the outer limit of perceptibility. Because its volume is only slightly higher than that of the ambient noise, the work demands sharpened perception and sensitivity to the acoustic effects. For those who listen closely, the stairway space expands into a meditative spatial experience within a timeless sphere.

Three to One
DOCUMENTA IX, 1992
Sound installation
AOK Hessen – Beratungscenter Kassel-City, Friedrichsplatz 14, stairway


Max Neuhaus (Born in 1939 in Beaumont, Texas, USA; died in 2009 in Maratea, Italy) began as an experimental musician and later became a pioneer of sound art as manifested in site-specific installations. He took part in documenta 6 and DOCUMENTA IX.


DOCUMENTA IX: For the first time in the history of documenta, a documenta exhibition abandoned its mission of presenting an objective picture of contemporary trends in art. The Belgian curator Jan Hoet confronted the traditional documenta approach with his own intuitive view of the situation at the time. Works were selected without reference to theoretical criteria or thematic considerations. In keeping with the slogan “From body to body to bodies,” the exhibition focused primarily on aspects of corporeality and bodily functions, individual bodily experiences, and body-related experiences of reality. Artificial order gave way to creative chaos as the guiding principle of this emphatically subjective documenta exhibition.


More information: www.documenta-historie.de

Per Kirkeby, Raumskulptur (1992)

Artwork photos by © Nils Klinger

Per Kirkeby, Raumskulptur (1992)

Erected for DOCUMENTA IX in 1992, Per Kirkeby’s Raumskulptur stands at one end of documenta Halle on Du-Ry-Straße.

Per Kirkeby had a brick sculpture erected behind the Orangerie for documenta 7 in 1977. Although welcomed with enthusiasm by the general public, the work had to be removed for structural reasons. It was replaced two exhibitions later by a spatial sculpture based upon comparable principles of form at the outmost end of Documenta Halle. Revealing no individual traces of the production process, its anonymous brickwork gives it the look of a functional technical structure that stands in strong contrast to the material character of Documenta Halle. In the meandering course of the walls of this sculptural architecture, inside and outside are woven together in a spatial concept that visitors walking through the work can experience as an alternating pattern of compactness and transparency, opening and closing.

Raumskulptur (Spatial Sculpture)
DOCUMENTA IX, 1992
Brick structure, 8.75 x 10.74 x 3.99 m
documenta-Halle, Du-Ry-Straße / An der Karlsaue


Per Kirkeby (Born in 1939 in Copenhagen, Denmark). Trained as a geologist, the artist has worked as a painter, sculptor, and architect since the 1960s. He took part in documenta 7 and DOCUMENTA IX.


DOCUMENTA IX: For the first time in the history of documenta, a documenta exhibition abandoned its mission of presenting an objective picture of contemporary trends in art. The Belgian curator Jan Hoet confronted the traditional documenta approach with his own intuitive view of the situation at the time. Works were selected without reference to theoretical criteria or thematic considerations. In keeping with the slogan “From body to body to bodies,” the exhibition focused primarily on aspects of corporeality and bodily functions, individual bodily experiences, and body-related experiences of reality. Artificial order gave way to creative chaos as the guiding principle of this emphatically subjective documenta exhibition.


More information: www.documenta-historie.de

Thomas Schütte, Die Fremden (The Strangers) (1992)

Artwork photos by © Nils Klinger

Thomas Schütte, Die Fremden (The Strangers) (1992)

Die Fremden, a sculptural ensemble by Thomas Schütte, has stood on the portico of the SinnLeffers fashion house at Friedrichsplatz since DOCUMENTA IX in 1992.

A group of human figures in colorful folk-style clothing has arrived atop the columned portico of the former “Roter Palais” with their improvised luggage items. They are helpless-looking figures with clearly differing ethnic and geographic origins. Rendered in a seemingly naïve, schematic style, these strangers personify exclusion and the absence of social integration. As figures on the fringe of society, they gaze in their precarious situation with lowered eyes at the square below them but cannot participate in the urban life they observe. Schütte’s sculpture group has gained increasing sociopolitical currency in recent years in light of the global waves of refugees and migrants. Originally a twelve-part ensemble, the work may also be seen as a contemporary counterpart to the six neoclassical allegories above the entrance to the Museum Fridericianum.

Die Fremden (The Strangers)
DOCUMENTA IX, 1992
9 objects; ceramics, glazed; different sizes
Portico of the SinnLeffers fashion house, Friedrichsplatz


Thomas Schütte (Born in 1954 in Oldenburg). Striving to avoid identification with a specific genre or style, Schütte has become one of the most versatile contemporary artists in terms of his choice of media. He took part in documenta 8, DOCUMENTA IX, and documenta X.


DOCUMENTA IX: For the first time in the history of documenta, a documenta exhibition abandoned its mission of presenting an objective picture of contemporary trends in art. The Belgian curator Jan Hoet confronted the traditional documenta approach with his own intuitive view of the situation at the time. Works were selected without reference to theoretical criteria or thematic considerations. In keeping with the slogan “From body to body to bodies,” the exhibition focused primarily on aspects of corporeality and bodily functions, individual bodily experiences, and body-related experiences of reality. Artificial order gave way to creative chaos as the guiding principle of this emphatically subjective documenta exhibition.


More information: www.documenta-historie.de

Jonathan Borofsky, Man Walking To The Sky (1992)

Artwork photos by © Nils Klinger

Jonathan Borofsky, Man Walking To The Sky (1992)

The work entitled Man Walking to the Sky installed by Jonathan Borofsky for DOCUMENTA IX in 1992 rises above the square in front of the Kulturbahnhof.

Unlike other outdoor objects from documenta exhibitions, Jonathan Borofsky’s upward-pointing installation has enjoyed widespread popularity. Erected directly in front of the Museum Fridericianum for documenta 9, it was purchased and installed at its present location in response to a public initiative and with support from sponsors in 1995. In spite of its precarious position between rising and falling and with the end of its journey in sight, the figure hurrying upward on a thin tube has evolved into a symbol of hope for the region. Yet the figure striving to escape the pull of the Earth is also conceived as an embodiment of existential danger. Driven by blind optimism and faith in progress, the man climbs toward the heavens without regard for the circumstances of his stormy advance. Nevertheless, the popular work is used in corporate and event logos and as a popular motif in advertising of all kinds.

Man Walking to the Sky
DOCUMENTA IX, 1992
Steel; height: 25 m; diameter: 50 cm; angle of incline: 63°. Figure: fiberglass, painted
Kulturbahnhof, front square


Jonathan Borofsky (Born in 1942 in Boston, USA). His works include primarily large-scale sculptures in public space. He lives in Ongunquit, Maine, USA and took part in documenta 7, 8 and DOCUMENTA IX.


DOCUMENTA IX: For the first time in the history of documenta, a documenta exhibition abandoned its mission of presenting an objective picture of contemporary trends in art. The Belgian curator Jan Hoet confronted the traditional documenta approach with his own intuitive view of the situation at the time. Works were selected without reference to theoretical criteria or thematic considerations. In keeping with the slogan “From body to body to bodies,” the exhibition focused primarily on aspects of corporeality and bodily functions, individual bodily experiences, and body-related experiences of reality. Artificial order gave way to creative chaos as the guiding principle of this emphatically subjective documenta exhibition.


More information: www.documenta-historie.de

Lois Weinberger, Das über die Planzen/ist eins mit Ihnen (What is Beyond Plants is at One with Them) (1997)

Artwork photos by © Nils Klinger

Lois Weinberger, Das über die Planzen/ist eins mit Ihnen (What is Beyond Plants is at One with Them) (1997)

Giuseppe Penone, Idee di pietra (Ideas of Stone) (2003/2008/2010)

Artwork photos by © Nils Klinger

Giuseppe Penone, Idee di pietra (Ideas of Stone) (2003/2008/2010)

Erected by Giuseppe Penone for dOCUMENTA (13) in 2012, the work entitled Idee di Pietra stands in the Karlsaue State Park.

At first glance it appears to be a tree. A closer look reveals it to be the bronze cast of a hazelnut tree with a large granite boulder in its radically trimmed branches. The first exhibition object was installed on the occasion of the summer solstice on 21 June 2010, the longest day of the year, two years before the opening of dOCUMENTA (13). The Arte Povera artist Giuseppe Penone, for whom the tree is the dominant motif, associates the combination of bronze and stone with a complex theory of the relationship between painting and sculpture and its dependence upon surrounding natural forces. Painting, says Penone, is a process of covering, whereas sculpture is devoted to bringing things to light. Flowing paint, like liquid bronze, is subject to gravity, while sculpture expresses an opposing force. And the plant world, as represented by the growing tree, escapes the pull of the Earth with the aid of light, defying the weight of the bronze. Cast in bronze, a moment in the history of nature is permanently captured here.


Idee di Pietra (Ideas of Stone)
2003 / 2010
Bronze, granite; height: 8.30 m
dOCUMENTA (13), 2012
Karlsaue


Giuseppe Penone (Born in 1947 in Garessio, Italy) is one of the leading exponents of Arte Povera. He lives in Turin and Paris and took part in documenta 5, 7, 8 and dOCUMENTA (13).


dOCUMENTA (13): With reference to the concepts of “Collapse and Recovery,” Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev focused her exhibition on both the history of Kassel and the history of documenta itself. Current political, scientific, environmental and economic problem areas were addressed from the perspective of a holistic, non-anthropocentric world view. Crossing boundaries in all directions, the previous scope of the exhibition series was expanded to include fields of knowledge outside the realm of art. In keeping with the fundamental position of philosophical skepticism, the “place at which subjectivity is presented” refrains from making binding statements about art and the world in which it is created.


More information: www.documenta-historie.de

Lawrence Weiner, DIE MITTE VON DIE MITTE VON DIE MITTE VON (THE MIDDLE OF THE MIDDLE OF THE MIDDLE OF) (2012)

Artwork photos by © Nils Klinger

Lawrence Weiner, DIE MITTE VON DIE MITTE VON DIE MITTE VON (THE MIDDLE OF THE MIDDLE OF THE MIDDLE OF) (2012)

Lawrence Weiner created the wall design entitled THE MIDDLE OF THE MIDDLE OF THE MIDDLE OF / DIE MITTE VON DIE MITTE VON DIE MITTE VON at the Hugenottenhaus on Friedrichstraße 25 for dOCUMENTA 13 in 2012.

The 13th documenta occupied such a wide area of the city that it had neither a center nor an identifiable focal point. In keeping with its programmatic intent, it refrained from claiming to have a middle. Within the context of this anti-hierarchic exhibition activity, Lawrence Weiner addressed the very issue of that middle in his colored wall text. He verbalized the attempt to demarcate the boundaries of a concrete standpoint, which presupposes the existence of a self-enclosed structure. In incantatory repetition, his template print raises the question of who determines what and where the middle of something is. And that question is also the question of the power to define what art is. Thus this work takes a critical look at the mission documenta has taken upon itself to carry out over a period of decades.


THE MIDDLE OF THE MIDDLE OF THE MIDDLE OF / DIE MITTE VON DIE MITTE VON DIE MITTE VON
dOCUMENTA 13, 2012
Wall design
Hugenottenhaus, Friedrichsstraße 25


Lawrence Weiner (Born in 1942 in New York City) is the leading representative of Conceptual Art. He has worked on numerous international projects, including primarily textual works in public space. He took part in documenta 5, 6, 7 and dOCUMENTA 13.


dOCUMENTA (13): With reference to the concepts of “Collapse and Recovery,” Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev focused her exhibition on both the history of Kassel and the history of documenta itself. Current political, scientific, environmental and economic problem areas were addressed from the perspective of a holistic, non-anthropocentric world view. Crossing boundaries in all directions, the previous scope of the exhibition series was expanded to include fields of knowledge outside the realm of art. In keeping with the fundamental position of philosophical skepticism, the “place at which subjectivity is presented” refrains from making binding statements about art and the world in which it is created.


More information: www.documenta-historie.de

Jimmy Durham, Arkansas Black Apple Tree (2012)

Artwork photos by © Nils Klinger

Jimmy Durham, Arkansas Black Apple Tree (2012)

Jimmy Durham’s Arkansas Black Apple was planted in the cherry orchard in Karlsaue State Park for dOCUMENTA 13 in 2012.

Planting trees is a familiar activity within the context of documenta exhibitions. Following Beuys’s City Forestation and Penone’s bronze tree, Carolyn Christov-Bargargiev and Jimmie Durham, assisted by garden monument custodian Michael Boßdorf, planted two apple trees in the former orchard section of the Karlsaue on 25 October 2011. KZ3, “Korbinian’s Apple,” commemorates the life of Pastro Korbinian Aigner, who cultivated this and other varieties while incarcerated at the Dachau concentration camp. The tree was destroyed by unidentified vandals in 2015. What remains is the Arkansas Black Apple Tree. Its rare fruit with its nearly black peel reminded Jimmie Durham of his childhood in the USA. The apple tree, which represents the ecological dimension of dOCUMENTA 13, was regarded by the Artistic Director as the symbol of her exhibition—the symbol of a living organism that gradually takes shape through the interplay of creative forces.

Arkansas Black Apple
Tree planting
2011
dOCUMENTA (13), 2012
Karlsaue, cherry orchard


Jimmie Durham (Born in 1940 in Washington, Arkansas, USA) is an artist who works in multiple media and as a political activist on behalf of indigenous peoples. He took part in DOCUMENTA IX and dOCUMENTA (13).


dOCUMENTA (13): With reference to the concepts of “Collapse and Recovery,” Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev focused her exhibition on both the history of Kassel and the history of documenta itself. Current political, scientific, environmental and economic problem areas were addressed from the perspective of a holistic, non-anthropocentric world view. Crossing boundaries in all directions, the previous scope of the exhibition series was expanded to include fields of knowledge outside the realm of art. In keeping with the fundamental position of philosophical skepticism, the “place at which subjectivity is presented” refrains from making binding statements about art and the world in which it is created.


More information: www.documenta-historie.de

Janet Cardiff und Georges Bures Miller, Alter Bahnhof Video Walk (2012)

Artwork photos by © Nils Klinger

Janet Cardiff und Georges Bures Miller, Alter Bahnhof Video Walk (2012)

Alter Bahnhof Video Walk, a work produced by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller for dOCUMENTA 13 in 2012 can be viewed on loan from the “Offener Kanal” of the Kulturbahnhof.

With their Video Walk, the artist couple developed a unique medium for instruction on aspects of history. The work offers a walk over the grounds of the Kulturbahnhof in Kassel with a portable media player and headset that are available on loan. Presented on the screen is a video history of the former railway station in text and images. Historical photographs, previously filmed scenes, commentaries, sounds, and music bring the past history of the site alive. Walkers who follow the route described in the video see the places at which they are actually located on the screen. Those who attempt to bring the depicted events in line with reality as they walk experience a peculiar sense of uncertainty and irritation—a slightly uncanny atmosphere of simultaneity in which levels of reality are interwoven and past and present overlap.


Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller
Alter Bahnhof Video Walk
26 min.
dOCUMENTA 13, 2012
Kulturbahnhof


Janet Cardiff (Born in 1957 in Brussels, Ontario, Canada); George Bures Miller (Born in 1960 in Vegreville, Alberta, Canada). The two have worked together on multimedia projects in Europe and Canada. They took part in dOCUMENTA 13.


dOCUMENTA (13): With reference to the concepts of “Collapse and Recovery,” Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev focused her exhibition on both the history of Kassel and the history of documenta itself. Current political, scientific, environmental and economic problem areas were addressed from the perspective of a holistic, non-anthropocentric world view. Crossing boundaries in all directions, the previous scope of the exhibition series was expanded to include fields of knowledge outside the realm of art. In keeping with the fundamental position of philosophical skepticism, the “place at which subjectivity is presented” refrains from making binding statements about art and the world in which it is created.


More information: www.documenta-historie.de

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