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Kunsthalle Basel opens annual Regionale exhibition
Installation view, Eine Karte -35/65+, view on (front) Marie Matusz, Storytellers, 2017/2019, and (back f.l.t.r.) Jürg Stäuble, Beidseits 2/4, 2007, Beidseits 3/10, 2006, Beidseits 2/2, 2007, Beidseits 3/9, 2007, Kunsthalle Basel, 2019. Photo: Philipp Hänger / Kunsthalle Basel.

BASEL.- To what extent does a place play a role in artistic creation? The annual Regionale has a predetermined focus on a specific location and geography. Since its inception twenty years ago, this is a unique premise for an exhibition project at the center of Europe, uniting three countries, their histories and traditions: Germany, France, and Switzerland.

Correspondingly, does age, beyond the biographical, play a role in artistic creation? For the exhibition Eine Karte -35/65+ (Engl. A Map -35/65+) and based on this question, works by artists of a specific age-range were selected: those under 35 and those over 65. The exhibition thus becomes an inventory that controversially relies on demographics and biographies to interrupt the familiar continuum that typically guides exhibition making—which often either focuses on a single generation or several related generations— all the better to open up alternative perspectives.

Through this roundup, the exhibition brings together twenty-one artistic positions from various locales and two age groups that newly map the significance of place and age. As a result, new narratives emerge and visitors are invited to develop their own stories and attendant maps. This leads to a series of experimental setups that do not lay claim to any coherence, but allow for contradictions, are perhaps even provocative, or may seem unorthodox and incorrect, as well as arbitrary and surprising. This cartography is one of heterogeneity that is difficult to predict and presage.

This curatorial concept also provides space for self-reflection on how one, as a curator, re- acts to such diverse works of art. Having been a co-initiator of the Regionale twenty years ago and having acted as Kunsthalle Basel’s director from 1996 to 2002, this exhibition for me also represents an autobiographical exercise that is strongly linked to my own artistic and curatorial experiences. These latter experiences transformed with every change in the field of work—and they are, ultimately, just as permeated by said heterogeneity, generated by unexpected continua.

At first glance, there appear to be strong similarities between the works of the two groups, older and younger. On closer examination it becomes clear, however, that the various strategies must be considered in a more differentiated manner. On the one hand, the working methods of the older generation seem to be still firmly anchored in modernism, and on the other hand, these protagonists hail from a field of practice in which a critique of modernism has been pursued since the 1980s. This resulted, as we know today, in a more expanded artistic field that made possible the globality of today’s visual art.

The younger generation’s practice seems to decidedly set itself apart from this approach. Mobility is different today and subject to different conditions, both in terms of personal mobility and in terms of art. Multifarious themes and varied forms of expressions emerge, and the classical dichotomies of modernism seem to have been overcome. While their historical charge is not ignored, materials and the way they are used have been liberated from any dogmas. Subject matters also have changed, for, after all, the world is a different place today than what it once was. It is remarkable to what extent these developments were already anticipated by a much older generation that introduced artistic practices that are now being further developed by much younger practitioners with a great deal of self-understanding.

The exhibition opens with Peter Brunner- Brugg (* 1946), Jorinde Fischer (* 1990), Pierre-Charles Flipo (* 1987), Vincent Gallais (* 1991), Catrin Lüthi K (* 1953), Rebecca Kunz (* 1986), and Werner von Mutzenbecher (* 1937), all of whom, in their own ways, attempt to capture the here and now through different material and spatial constellations. The second exhibition room focuses on painting with works by Camille Brès (* 1987), Guido Nussbaum (* 1948), and Alfred Wirz (* 1952) offering different perspectives onto the self and the representation of the world, while using minimal, reduced means. In the third space, the pure materiality of Géraldine Honauer’s (* 1986) monochrome salt installation meets the delicate and lucid abstractions of Marie-Louise Leus (* 1948). Material, sound, and form are put into play in the fourth room by the works of Gerome Johannes Gadient (* 1996), Marie Matusz (* 1994), Mirjam Plattner (* 1993), and Jürg Stäuble (* 1948). In the final room, the works of Annette Barcelo (* 1943), Selina Baumann (* 1988), Hannah Gahlert (* 1988), Danae Hoffmann (* 1994), and Lisa Schittulli (* 1990) demonstrate how, through the repeated appearance of certain motifs, astonishing correspondences and associations emerge.

– Peter Pakesch

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