In the new installation Phantom. Mies as Rendered Society , architect Andrés Jaque and his Office for Political Innovation have sought to bring visibility to these hidden, almost imperceptible layers that are essential to keep a building of this kind running. Work to reconstruct the pavilion started in 1983, and the new building was inaugurated in 1986 in its original location. Ignasi de Solà-Morales, Cristian Cirici and Fernando Ramos were the architects appointed to research, design and oversee the reconstruction of the Pavilion.
In the introductory text to the installation, Jaque refers to Walter Lippmann's The Phantom Public , where it is stated the public exists only as an illusion, a myth, and inevitably a phantom. The Mies van der Rohe Pavilion now revealed to us is full of phantoms. Each of the objects that Jaque has rescued from the building's basement to illustrate the work carried out by people for years, invisible to the tourists and grand events at the Mies Foundation , tells us new stories that until now had remained locked away in a basement. It could appear to be a superficial installation, without any great meaning, an attempt to politicise the unpoliticisable , or an overly ostentatious show of the "disobedience " that Jaque has emphasised in his work for some time. But we can also see that this accumulation of obsolete objects and the exploration of the boundaries between architecture and art mentioned by Miquel Adrià creates a coherent story, an almost archaeological work, uncovering pieces worthy of a curiosity shop, revealing to the audience a fabric of relationships and activities that, in a visitor's normal experience of the pavilion, is concealed behind its rule-abiding and universally-understood architecture. In this regard, there is a clear reference to the film Koolhaas Houselife , in which Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoîne show us around a house in Bordeaux through the experiences of cleaner Guadalupe Acedo, revealing areas that are usually not seen in traditional architectural reportages.
If Lippmann asserts that the public is a "mere phantom", an abstraction dependent on a "mystical concept of society" then Phantom could be the mise-en-scène that reveals a counterpoint to these ideas, since this mystical concept of society is mixed up by the gradual appearance of many players. Suddenly, the image of Mies van der Rohe retreats into the background, and what we see before us is society, just as it is, free of mysticism... it is the people who clean the water tanks, a couple who invade the pavilion and sleep there with their dog before being thrown out, or some local residents who come along every night to feed the cats that wander around the pavilion. Despite the fact that visitors are not allowed to sit on the famous Barcelona chairs, an assortment of damaged and threadbare cushions shows that people are also disobedient beyond the confines of IKEA!
Suddenly, the image of Mies van der Rohe retreats into the background, and what we see before us is society, just as it is, free of mysticism... it is the people who clean the water tanks, a couple who invade the pavilion and sleep there with their dog before being thrown out, or some local residents who come along every night to feed the cats
Through 28 February 2013
Phantom. Mies as Rendered Society
The Mies van der Rohe Pavilion
Av. Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia 7, Barcelona