The Tschumi Pavilion

  • commissioning and public space

On the edge of downtown, near the Groninger Museum, on a wide green strip stands the Tschumi Pavilion. For a year now, site-specific works of art have been made there. Esther Didden went there to visit and wrote about it.

The Tschumi Pavilion is an eye-catching building designed by French-Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi. The walls and ceiling are made of glass and the floor is made of steel gratings. The pavilion is tilted and skewed on a concrete foundation and is eighteen meters long. The pavilion has stood there since 1990. The city of Groningen celebrated its 950th anniversary then, which prompted the museum and the municipality to realize an art event for which five pavilions were built. Two of them are still there. Bernard Tschumi called his pavilion Glass Video Gallery; videos were shown in the pavilion. After the festival year, the pavilion stood empty for a while until a foundation took over programming and renamed the pavilion Tschumi Pavilion.

The pavilion stood empty for a time, until a foundation took up programming

For a year now, Kunstpunt Groningen has been programming the pavilion. They work along two program lines. The first is to program in synergy with the city and current events. The other is to give attention to artists who live and work in Groningen. Among other things, this happens in the pavilion where artists are asked to create a site-specific work. The pavilion is not open to the public; the artists who are invited to make a work there make it for passersby. Because the building is located along a major access road, passersby are guaranteed to be here. Thanks to the glass walls, the public can follow the creation process as the artist realizes their work in the building. This has already led to valuable conversations between artists and residents over the past year.

A few projects have taken place so far, such as Dichtlicht op het verleden by Lambert Kamps. This was the first public expression of a preliminary research into how the shared history of Groningen's slavery past can be made visible through visual art. The research focuses specifically on a monument yet to be realized in a meaningful place in public space. Kunstpunt conducted this research on behalf of the municipality of Groningen. For several months, important words from poems by city poet Myron Hamming were displayed daily from sunset in a light artwork by Kamps. Four Groningers had told Hamming about the influence of colonial history on their (family) lives. Inspired by their stories, he wrote four poems. Every two weeks the poems alternated.

Artists invited to create a work there make it for passersby

More recently, artist Rosa Everts completed her project. The daily stream of passers-by was the starting point for her to create a work. She asked passersby, on foot or by bicycle, if they wanted to pose and then captured their silhouette on the glass walls. It resulted in a work that reflects the dynamic environment of the Tschumi Pavilion.

photo: Siese Veenstra

At the time this BK information hits the doormat, a work by Jildau Nijboer is on display. She asked local residents who overlook the pavilion if she could capture "the vista" from their homes/offices. With all these vistas together, she created a work for the pavilion. Nijboer graduated from the Frank Mohr Institute in June 2022.

The pavilion offers a great opportunity to showcase yourself as an artist

Nicoline Wijnja works at Kunstpunt Groningen and is responsible for programming the Tschumi Pavilion. She says she thinks it's important that starting artists have a chance to work on commission. Creating a work for the pavilion can be a good step to learn how to create an idea sketch, a budget and workable schedule. In addition, the pavilion offers a great opportunity to showcase yourself as an artist. Kunstpunt is happy to coach artists in this regard. Every artist who is invited to make a work for the pavilion first makes an idea sketch. If the content of the plan is strong, does something with the place and radiates to the surroundings, the commission for final execution follows.

photo: Siese Veenstra

Wijnja says that the art in public spaces in Groningen is doing very well. Cooperation with urban development is good and several commissions are underway. Whereas works of art in public space are usually permanent in nature and their realization can take years, the Tschumi Pavilion offers the opportunity to create a temporary work and projects come about more quickly. This makes it a nice addition to the role of Kunstpunt in Groningen. Without giving too much away, Wijnja indicates that the Tschumi pavilion offers a good opportunity to connect the aforementioned program lines: Hadassah Emmerich is currently creating a large work for a tunnel, and in due course will also create a temporary work for the pavilion. A great way to get to know this artist's work better and to draw attention to the permanent artwork in the tunnel.

The Tschumi Pavilion offers the opportunity to create a temporary work

The program for the pavilion is fixed through the summer of 2023. Arts Point will spend the next few years exploring how they can program the pavilion in exciting ways, and plans to develop a program in professional development and art in public spaces.

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