When the 1st Hessentag was founded in 1961 by state premier Georg-August Zinn (1901 - 1976), it was not to be expected that almost 50 years later the state festival would continue to enjoy so much popularity and grow steadily over the years. Already in the first year, 40,000 visitors were counted, and about 20 years later, at the 21st Hessentag, there were 300,000. The venue of the 21st Hessentag, which took place from June 6 – 14, 1981, was Bürstadt. A total of 136 commemorative floats, including two from Kassel, took part in the traditional parade on the last day of the annual state event. This is evident from a large-format design of the aforementioned festive floats and a letter from the former head of the archive Dr. Konrad Scheuermann (born 1946) to the artistic director of documenta 7, Rudi Fuchs (born 1942).


The design shows, on a scale of 1:20, two festive floats, which were to be used in built form on the occasion of the Hessentag to advertise prominent Kassel events:  the “Dornröschen” (Sleeping Beauty) float on the occasion of the 2nd Federal Garden Show in 1981 in Kassel (April 30 – October 18, 1981), and the “documenta” float for documenta 7 (1982). In comparison, the "documenta" float is kept very simple. The only thing on the vehicle was a transport wall measuring just under 2 meters in height, which was to display the documenta 7 poster. As a color element contrasting with the simple poster, the plan was to paint the transport wall as well as the floor a dark blue. Scheuermann’s letter to Fuchs reveals a possible reason for this minimalist presentation. On the one hand, there was the restriction on the use of certain typical Kassel motifs and, on the other, the short preparation time. Since no photographic documentation has been preserved in the documenta archive, however, further research in other archives is required to find out what the float actually looked like in the end and whether it actually promoted documenta 7 nationwide.


Alexandra Winterhoff