'My pavilions are architecturally usable spaces – temporary outdoor shelters in an Arcadian tradition.'
Dan Graham’s pavilions are hybrid structures, operating simultaneously as functional spaces and as sculptural objects. They draw upon a rich tradition of outdoor structures – the 'rustic hut', the nineteenth century gazebo, the temporary pavilions built by de Stijl and by Modern architects for expositions, but their materials are those of contemporary urban architecture. They are democratic structures intended to instigate encounters between people, their smooth seductive forms designed to both facilitate and frame a range of shifting social interactions.
At Hauser & Wirth Zürich Graham will be showing two new outdoor pavilions, architectural models and a series of photographs shot in New Jersey. The pavilions are curved structures made out of two-way mirror-glass, perforated stainless steel and sliding doors that the viewer can enter into. Graham has explained: 'My pavilions are to be experienced from both the inside and outside. Depending on the lighting conditions at a given moment, they can be mirrorized on the outside, and thus conceal the existence of interior viewers; or equally transparent and reflective simultaneously from inside and outside. They demonstrate to the viewers their own bodies and themselves as perceiving subjects – and also allow them to see other spectators perceiving themselves.' Shown within the gallery the sculptural qualities of these forms come to the fore, yet it is in the outside world that the pavilions attain their full potential, reflecting and connecting passers by, the fabric of the city, and ever-changing weather.
Graham (born in Illinois in 1942 and now living and working in New York) is one of the most important American artists of his generation. He first emerged in the 1960s alongside Minimalists such as Dan Flavin and Sol LeWitt and was one of the most influential pioneers of Conceptual Art. His work has featured in four documentas (1972, 1977, 1982 and 1992) and has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide. A major touring retrospective of Graham’s work opens at Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art in February 2009 and travels to the Whitney Museum and the Walker Art Centre.