PHANTOM. Mies as Rendered Society
December 13, 2012 - February 17, 2013
Text: Fundació Mies van der Rohe Barcelona.
An intervention by Andrés Jaque in the Barcelona Pavilion, a result of research that he has developed over the past two years following the invitation of the Fundació Mies van der Rohe and the Banc Sabadell Foundation. At different points of the Pavilion’s space, an important part of the objects that are kept in the basement on which its sits are arranged. A basement, presented as the ghost of the Pavilion (PHANTOM) that had never before attracted the attention of those who visit or study it and to which, however, Jaque recognizes an important role in the emergence of its architecture as social construction.
The team in charge of the reconstruction of the Pavilion in 1929 thought the basement would facilitate the registration and maintenance of its facilities, but also decided that access should be difficult in order to avoid, in the future, that it ended up being used as an exhibition space explaining Mies and the pavilion. In the basement one can find all those material witnesses that reflect the social fabric affected by a common project: reinterpreting every day the May morning in which the 1929 Pavilion opened.
The basement, like the portrait of Dorian Grey, contains everything that makes one see the Pavilion as a monumental collective construction. But it is hidden to avoid diminishing the illusion of an unmediated reception by an enlightened hand, that of the Mies who worked in Barcelona in 1929. The basement holds the public ghost (PHANTOM, referring to Walter Lippman’s important text: The Phantom Public, New Jersey, 1925-) of the companies that every day contribute to the manufacture of the Pavilion. As Mies himself noted, architecture is built in the way that the visible shapes what is hidden.
The Barcelona Pavilion is an arena of confrontation organized in a two-story architecture, in which two interdependent notions of what is political compete. A bright top floor, which reactivates foundational notions of politics (in which the extraordinary, the origins and essences lead what is common) and a dark basement, that builds it through contingencies and interim agreements. The above one is physically transparent, but it hides the social pacts in which it happens, to give access to a daily incalculability experience. The bottom is opaque; however, it is where contracts, experiments and disputes that build the Pavilion gain transparency.
The Pavilion, in the way its two-stories operate, builds a belief: ‘that which is exceptional emerges in the absence of the ordinary’. The intervention departs from the suspicion that the recognition and re-articulation of the two fields can provide new possibilities in which architecture finds answers to contemporary challenges.
A project by Andrés Jaque, invited by the Fundació Mies van der Rohe and the Banc Sabadell Foundation.
With the collaboration of: Paola Brown, Ana Olmedo, Ruggero Agnolutto, Roberto Gonzalez, Jorge Lopez Conde, William Mondejar, Silvia Rodriguez, Dagmar Villarmea Stéeova and Paloma
Curator: Ivan Blasi
Research Assistants: Paola Pardo, Ana Olmedo
Acknowledgements: Lluís Hortet, Laura Arenas, Fundació Mies van der Rohe’s team