Mediamatic Magazine Vol. 2#1 1 Jan 1987

Documenta 8

Documenta 8 was opened in Kassel on June 12. Since then, a lot has been said and written about the way one has tried to stress the relationship between Art and Society in Kassel. We will not add to this discussion here.


Documenta 8 -

After a period of weakness, in 1982, the Documenta is now showing some interest in electronic media again. In any case, the exhibition as a whole is rather dependent on electricity; one in two works of art presented seems to be equipped with a small flashing indicator, loudspeaker, steam whistle, or turns around in its entirety.

This Documenta contains an audiotheque which gives a review of the acoustic art of the past five years (see inventory in Mediamatic 1- 4). Several video installations have been incorporated in the exhibition itself.

Audiotheque and videotheque are housed in a small building, designed for the occasion by Documenta architect Lalo Nicolic. This AV-pavilion is tucked away in the back garden of the Fridiricianum, which is where it belongs. Nicolic provided an excellent design for the main exhibition, but seems to have overreached himself with this Audiovisual Museum, which in this context is of marginal importance anyway.

The ground plan shows a straight corridor, which connects three geometric forms: triangle, circle and square (yes, all in a primary color). The audiotheque is located in the circle, and this installation does function quite well, thanks to the special listening chairs (see Max Bruinsma's article). Crossing the triangle, where an acoustical installation by Stefan Von Huene is condemned to silence (because of the noise level generated by it, this installation is (mly operational three times a day), we come to the videotheque in the square. The cacophony which dominates the whole pavilion, and the effect of which is enhanced by the choice of the wrong materials (acoustically hard, plastic tubing and galvanized corrugated iron), reaches its climax in the videotheque. From the middle of the square, visitors can watch a continuous video programme, on a screen -over-illuminated by neon lights- which is suspended just a bit too high for comfort. It is also possible to request a tape from the catalogue. For this purpose there is a small cabin at the side. The distance between viewer and screen in these cabins is too small. In addition, it is impossible to determine which of the many sounds buzzing through the edifice belong to the tape that is shown. Nevertheless, we provide ample information about the several time-based attractions in Kassel. (till September 20).

Friedemann Malasch interviewed Documenta staff members Wolfang Preikschat and Wulf Herzogenrath, about the videotheque and the video installations, respectively. Max Bruinsma reports on the audiotheque, and Dieter Daniels describes his favorite item: the cluster of installations by Jenny Holzer, Ingo Gunther and Klaus Vom Bruch. This Documenta special is crowned by an artist's contribution by Ingo Gunther.