En 2007, Vier5 a conçu l’identité et la signalétique de la douzième Documenta, exposition d’art contemporain à Kassel en Allemagne. Selon le commissaire de l’exposition, “la Documenta peut être un pas pour encourager les gens, le grand public, à accepter la force et l’intelligence en eux”. En encourageant le “beau”, il invite à comprendre l’art de manière sensuelle (la ville est, par exemple, envahie d’un champ de coquelicots rouges). La Documenta se veut aussi un véritable espace de médiation, une sorte de “forum d’art politique”.
C’est donc à partir de cette démarche esthétique et provocante que le studio Vier5 (deux allemands installés à Paris) ont répondu de manière efficace et radicale.
En voici la présentation argumentée disponible sur le site des graphistes (en anglais, of course).
Guiding system for documenta 12
The guiding system developed by Vier5 for documenta 12 distinguishes between two systems, the outer guiding system and the inner guiding system.
The outer guiding system, as it is understood by Vier5, has several levels and is viewed as a structure that can be divided into an informative, tangible and an abstract area.
On the one hand it is to be a functioning system that fulfils the visitors’ primary wishes and leads them through the city to the desired places. This form is directly tied to the venue of the exhibition and to its duration.
On the other hand the guiding system, as it is grasped by Vier5, has another, uncontrollable and invisible function. It is meant to span a network and carry the aims and thoughts of the show to the outside, detached from the place and time of the exhibition. It is to evade a primary functionality.
These two poles that are mutually dependent form the basis for the development of five central elements that represent the framework of the outer guiding system.
1. Outer guiding system
The first work consists in white signs that can be seen everywhere in the city. The signs are meant to be in the way of the persons in the city or the city zone and restrict the usual “walking flow”. Like with the containers, “raw”, already existing material is used. The bases of the signs are made of course concrete blocks as they can also be found on building sites.
The outer appearance of documenta 12 is to a large part characterized by containers. They can be seen all over the exhibition grounds and have several different functions. In addition they can be used on the outside as an active medium for transporting information. Large areas of the outer walls of the containers are directly written on. No other carriers are interposed and the significance of the work derives from its amassment and the inordinately large lettering, the character of which aggressively confronts the subtlety of the exhibition.
c) Living guiding system
A guiding system for an event the size of the documenta can only be implemented if it contains flexible elements that can quickly respond to changes or new things. The design therefore also includes a “living guiding system” in addition to the fixed elements. This means that a group of persons is permanently in action fulfilling various tasks. For example, the group is underway on the grounds distributing information on the current events of the day or is responsible for quickly making unexpected things public. This system is also active outside of the documenta grounds and can follow a group of visitors like a “shadow”, for instance.
What is important with the living guiding system is that it appears unified as a group and stands out from the supervisory staff and the visitors of the show. The living guiding system forms the transition from the “classical”, tangible part to the abstract.
d) Ceramic hills
The ceramic hills are the guards of the exhibition venues and indicate from the outside that one is standing in front of an exhibition venue. The hill has no informative function. It is totally autonomous and encounters the visitors at each exhibition venue in exactly the same position at the entrance of the building. The ceramic hill forms the transition from the outer to the inner guiding system.
e) Crown caps
Crown caps on the street are a sign of our civilization, they indicate where people linger, gather and crowd, and which ways they go or have gone. The crown cap is a simple and direct sign, and in contrast to other “remains” and indications of our daily life, the crown cap is “persistent”. Once thrown to the ground, it can hardly be removed; rusted specimens can therefore even be found when digging in the earth. Due to the daily use of the crown cap and the way it is carelessly disposed of, it becomes an “invisible” guiding system through a city. Especially in the year of the documenta, many of these crown caps will line the ways and point to the direction that people and visitors will take through the city. Some of the crown caps will become buried in the earth and remain in the city for a long time to come.
One of these crown caps was freed of its anonymity for documenta 12; it was cast and gilded. It will be given back to the visitors of the show, who also become part of the guiding system, consciously or unconsciously, through their visit. But because of the crown cap, which has now become a gem, as it were, the idea of the exhibition is carried out into the world, spanning a dense network based on this found object from Kassel.
2. Inner guiding system
While the outer guiding system works with simple material, massiveness and size, the inner guiding system remains reticent and doesn’t confront the artworks with the same “massiveness” with which the outer guiding system confronts the city’s architecture. The inner guiding system consists in simple, low-key instructions and information that the visitor must decipher and that then lead the way through the building.
Typefaces for documenta 12
Especially for the guiding system of documenta 12 Vier5 did develop three typefaces: Fläche, Schild and Richtung.
These typefaces are created for a quick and easy understanding. They should represent the spirit of the exhibition which is focused on exactly 100 days. Like the exhibition they should come with a strong significance over the city of Kassel and should disappear in the same way after the
100 days of documenta 12.