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How to build a new understanding of the world, without a disposition toward the past
Art Statements: Basel for over ten years has shown examples of emerging art from the standpoint of the most established commercial art event in the world. Located in the first hall of Basel art fair this series of focused, singular presentations put forward by younger galleries and first time participants at the fair, alongside more established galleries looking to present an early career artist...

Published on Friday, June 15th, 2011
This year the selection panel has looked favourably towards London, amongst the selected participants there are some five London galleries, a comparatively high number. In a city thriving with young commercial galleries this could be a conscious decision to reflect a climate or a reflection of the quality of emerging talent germinating within the city.

In this short cross-section of new artwork some commonalities between artists emerge from the dissonant environment of the fair. Amongst exhibitors there is a recurring pleasure in abstract thinking within artistic practice and an exploration of the unique position of the artist to perpetuate this as an essential role and contribution. This general idea  is explored in a number of ways: production processes in the studio or gallery, longer term projects, in relation to geographic and social phenomena, through language - the means that we use to shape perception and through other vehicles of creative and self expression including music, fashion and design.

The Baloise Art Prize awarded each year at Basel, has been awarded to Ben Rivers (Kate MacGarry, London)  and Alejandro Cesarco (Murray Guy, New York). Cesarco presents The Streets Were Dark With Something More Than Night or The Closer I Get To The End The More I Rewrite The Beginning - an installation comprising of a slide-show, wall texts, photography, and an artist's book - examining the structure of one of the most popular genres of writing in circulation, the detective novel. This work inverts the traditional narrative structure, bestowing the viewer with the role of the protagonist and therein activating but also dictating the audience members' own subjective reading and perception.
Cescaro's work explores the middle-ground between categorical systems of classification – he deliberately confounds existing systems which inform our perception by exposing their inconsistencies and susceptibility to other people's subjective influence. In this way he draws attention to the act of making, of artistic practice as a methodology that can expose the gap between fact and fiction. By looking at how understanding is shaped through personal accounts of universally known events he questions our ability to successfully communicate experience and attempts to explore the potential within non-linear modes of documentation and perception.


Adam Pendleton (Galeria Pedro Cera, Lisboa) also takes art to the semantic field, presenting new work from his series Systems of Display. This ongoing work uses appropriated imagery, in this case of Swedish interiors from the 1920's and overlays them with bold,  abstract language printed onto glass. This language, derived from different sources but of some allusion to the depicted subject becomes a subjective and futile pursuit of meaning. Pendleton's work explores the function of language to shape perception and act as an accumulative record, he looks toward the potential of language to form new relationships and understanding - a new abstract and cognitive understanding, as opposed to associative or accumulative meaning.

Agnieszka Polska
(Zak | Branicka, Berlin) also takes inspiration from the potential within mis-communication and draws upon the fallibility of memory, looking at how this may act as a liberated and more original agency for creation. Here Polska presents work that draws specifically upon art history and re-examines historic works in relation to their documented context to draw new meaning.

More affected with the physical act of making, Lydia Gifford (Laura Bartlett Gallery, London) acknowledges the freedom of the artistic medium to create a discussion that exists existentially and as a reference unto itself: from the root of making in the studio, then display in the gallery she fluidly exploring these  opportunities to create a new visual language in dialogue with process, space and the viewer. She speaks of the idea of using visual art, like parenthesis an opportunity to explore the additional, the indirect, looking at the essential role these asides or embellishments play and how we structure and prioritize objects and ideas.

In a less abstract manner, Alex Heim (Galerie Karin Guenther, Hamburg) acknowledges the fortuitous nature of existing marginal aspects of society. These existing anomalies, often perceived as peripheral, are presented as a type of self-sustaining phenomena running within constructed society. In his presented work, Heim has produced sculpture, sound installation and video that draws from the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, an area in the centre of the North Pacific Gyre that is amassing plastic rubbish due to and perpetuated by the natural circular current.

Aside from an off-kilter geographic representation and any other politics that follow, the artists this year at Statements point towards a generation that are questioning their role and exploring a more dynamic way of seeing and interpreting knowledge.

curated by dawn bothwell

From June 15th to June 19th 2011 
Art Statements
Art Basel 42
Hall 1 Messe Basel
Open from 11.00 to 19.00.
15-20 June 2011


Reserved Reproduction