For the exhibition Lorna Macintyre shows a series of new works that engage the poem Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot. She combines each of the four chapters of the poem with one of the four elements of earth, water, fire and air. The Laurent Montaron's show is entitled 'Pace', named after the film installation of the same title. Pace is a 16mm film projection behind a wall and a stained glass window, which shows the beating heart of a carp held in the palm of a hand. Pascale Grau shows for the first time the four completed Tableaux Vivants, works from the ongoing series that she started in 2005.
Form and Freedom
The first institutional solo exhibition of Lorna Macintyre (born 1977 in Glasgow) in Switzerland bears the title Form and Freedom, a wording which is taken from the book I Wanted To Write A Poem: The Autobiography of the Works of a Poet by the American poet William Carlos Williams (1883-1963). In 2007, the artist completed the MFA at Glasgow School of Art during which she spent a semester at Hunter College in New York. With solo exhibitions at Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, at the ICA in London, with periodic representations in the galleries Kamm, Berlin and Mary Mary, Glasgow and her participation in many international group exhibitions, Macintyre has been the subject of much recent attention.
In the work of Macintyre, there is the interplay of sculptures, installations, found objects from nature, simple everyday objects, collages, prints and photographs. She works specifically with the respective exhibition spaces and correlates the works conceptually and scenically. Her choice of materials and vocabulary of shapes are decisively influenced by analogies between the man-made and the natural, between nature and culture and other nuances of these oppositions. Inspired by selected works of literature, the artist constantly creates a poetic course in which the signs and symbols existing in the works entangle the viewer in a network of relationships, and, at the same time, showing him alleged possibilities.
For the exhibition at the Kunsthaus Baselland, the artist shows a series of new works that engage the poem Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot. Macintyre combines each of the four chapters of the poem with one of the four elements of earth, water, fire and air. In this way, the piece The Past Has Another Pattern, resulted from solarization, is linked to the element of water, with downward triangle shapes representing the alchemical symbol for water. Words Move, Music Moves is the title of a work hanging from the ceiling and composed of one aluminium and one steel cable that show quite subtle moves depending on the airflow in the room. Every Phrase and Every Sentence is an End and a Beginning is a sculpture of chained triangles of welded copper mounted on the wall that represents, since the tip of the triangle is facing upwards, the alchemical symbol for fire. Love is Most Nearly Itself When the Here and Now Cease to Matter is the title of a work that relates to the element of earth. This installation, consisting of a mirror and a stone-circle on top of it, is a reminiscent of the cultic, the archaic and the historic; the mirror throws the mirror image back, as a gesture of love.
In other works, Lorna Macintyre takes on the topics of seasons and natural phenomena. She uses techniques like the Cyanotype (blueprint, iron blueprint), in which she exposes papers that are treated with photosensitive chemicals to sun- or moonlight. The resulting randomly generated forms are abstract entities that here and there are able to recall landscapes. More black and white photographs symbolize Winter and Spring, another series in turn abstract portraits of the Charites (in Greek: Three Graces): Euphrosyne (Mirth), Thalia (Good Cheer) and Aglaia (Splendor).
In Macintyre’s wooden base sculptures one finds alchemical thinking and visual metaphors that open up by way of the used materials and their composition. In The Saturn Return, she sets up lead weights that were found by a metal detector. In alchemy, the metal lead is associated with the planet Saturn. The Saturn Return refers to the astrological phenomenon that it takes Saturn about 29.5 years to finish one revolution around the Sun. The title of the sculpture What the Thunder Said cites T.S. Eliot’s Waste Land. The tin sticks eludes to a thunderbolt, the symbol of Jupiter; the alchemy also assigns the metal tin to that deity. In the north-south orientation of the long window space at the Kunsthalle Baselland she places in each of the six windows a sculpture on a wooden base that reminds one of a totem. Each time, the use of a different metal generates a new alchemical reference: silver represents the moon, the sun is gold, copper is associated with Venus and the feminine and the masculine with iron.
Lorna Macintyre’s interest in non-linear narration is striking. She works with literary quotations and arranges, often guided by chance and intuition, materials that adopt in correspondence to the compositional arrangement the shape of visual metaphors. By doing so, the titles are just as important as the role of the artist as the “author” leaving traces of the working process behind while revealing the path of development. It is as if it is being spoken with many voices simultaneously.
Laurent Montaron (born 1972 in Verneuil-sur-Avre, lives in Paris) is regarded as one of the most interesting upcoming artists of a younger generation both in his native France and abroad. His solo shows at Kunstverein Freiburg, at Laurent Montaron, Pace, 2009
Institut d’Art Contemporain in Villeurbanne/Lyon, at FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, his solo presentation at last Frieze Art Fair (Schleicher+Lange Gallery) and numerous participations in international group exhibitions have placed his work firmly into the European discourse. Montaron works in various media: film, video, photography and sculptures, as well as sound installations. The focus of his interest is the exploration of visual representation codes: Montaron questions the relationship and the conflicts between image and reality, of each narrative and its interpretation.
The exhibition at the Kunsthaus Baselland is entitled "Pace", named after the film installation of the same title. Pace is a 16mm film projection behind a wall and a stained glass window, which shows the beating heart of a carp held in the palm of a hand. The slightly insulated noise of the projector and the vibrating of the heart freed from the body form an acoustic symbiosis; the window emphasizes the voyeuristic element in the observation of the image. Montaron examines in equal measure the unpleasant and the beautiful, but leaves open whether this is a "real" or a "fictitious" image.
The HD film "Will There Be a Sea Battle Tomorrow?" (2008) is based on the social and scientific recurring interest in supernatural experiences. A machine from the Institute for Parapsychology in Freiburg, called Psi-Recorder, is in the focus of the film. This device is able to generate random numbers that can be used for experiments that investigate the phenomena of telepathy, clairvoyance, and foreshadowing. The question "Will There Be a Sea Battle Tomorrow?" is based on the logical innovations of Greek philosopher Diodorus Cronus, who developed theses on future contingents, provided that neither is necessarily true nor absolutely false. The philosopher maintained that only those things are possible which actually are or will be; hence everything which is not going to be cannot be, and all that is, or is going to be, is necessary. Consequently, Laurent Montaron’s film is about the question of whether our future is preordained, or whether a premonition is consistent with an exact science. He discusses the phenomena of time and chance, and he raises fundamental questions that, although unanswered, present a poetic disposition.
The light installation "How is it that this long night is interrupted?" (2008) addresses the issue of randomness. Two identical light bulbs are symmetrically mounted on a wall. A light switch affixed nearby releases electrical impulses to the one or to the other illuminating the respective bulb. To generating the random impulses, the artist uses an electronic chip that was invented in 1960.
Laurent Montaron’s interest in equipment and instruments from a pre-computerized, bygone time is constantly palpable. Thus, the anvil "D" (2010) at the entrance to his exhibition appears as a visual code that refers to a completely different time, in which hooves were shod or other rectangular or round shapes were hammered. The object bears the engraved inscription: "Is not this what we like to believe rather than being left to the night?", a phrase from the video "Will There Be A Sea Battle Tomorrow?". Montaron opens the exhibition with a general matter of belief, which also applies to art: Do we want to believe it, or do we prefer to leave it to the darkness of the night? The title is in turn the result of a tuning fork’s coordination with the anvil - thus a thoroughly verifiable measurement unit that nevertheless contributes nothing at all to the interpretation of the work.
Two photographs in the first room of the exhibition show a man with long hair playing a dulcimer. "Dulcimer Player in Front of a Shotgunhouse" (2010), the title of the photo sequence, is reminiscent of film footage. The slightly different snapshots are closely linked in time. At a closer look, the temporal elements prove to be even more complex: The dulcimer is originally an instrument from the Middle Ages. It was picked up in its almost unchanged medieval form in America and until today is especially used in folk music. While playing, the musician on the photographs records his play immediately with an older recorder. The Shotgunhouse, typical in the American South, is a visual remnant from the periods between the Civil War (1861-65) and the 1920s. Visual codes from different times and with different connotations meet and thus determine the contents of image sequences.
Another instrument, which until now is common in jazz music, is the electromechanical Hammond B3 organ (or Leslie Organ, named after the Leslie speaker). Montaron uses such an instrument for his installation "Doppler" (2009), which doubles and distorts a strange, almost insane laughter. Shown in the cold shed roofed space of the KHBL, the absurdity of laughter intensifies, which is used in one place and at a time that provides no logical motives.
Montaron’s most recent work, shown for the first time in this exhibition, integrates a gramophone, which plays upon request and with manual control a specially created capstan. "Phoenix" (2010, working title) raises the question of representation and perception mechanisms. What does a hardly usable music player mean today? To which musical era did it belong? What happens if together with the instrument an inscribed and attributed genre of music disappears?
In many of his works, Montaron juggles science and belief systems, between logic and intuition. With machinery and instruments from a bygone era, with specific objects and poetic songs, he suggests much while the mystery remains. In all this, the spatial presentation of his works is of particular importance. Laurent Montaron’s works entangle the viewer in perception and interpretation issues. They are neither documentary nor fiction. They deal with the strategies of indication and of concealment, leaving the spatial presentation to play an important role.
Pascale Grau ( born 1960 in St. Gallen, lives and works in Basel) shows for the first time the four completed Tableaux Vivants, works from the ongoing series that she started in 2005. Grau, who studied film and fine arts at the Hochschule Pascale Grau, Tableau Vivant, Bangalore, 2009
für Bildende Künste in Hamburg with Rüdiger Neumann (experimental film), Wilfried Minks (stage design), Bernhard Johannes Blume and Marina Abramovic (fine arts), and studied MAS Cultural/Gender Studies at the ZHdK, has long been known in Switzerland as a performer and artist. In addition to her artistic activities, she lectures, curates, and is responsible - as part of the board - for the program of Kaskadenkondensator.
The term Tableaux Vivants describes the motionless re-enactment of sculptures and paintings by living persons. This stylistic method of image creation that combines theatrical elements with those of fine arts emerged at the end of the 18th century and is now experiencing a revival.
Pascale Grau has staged Tableaux Vivants in Myanmar (2005), Bolivia (2006), Switzerland (2007) and Karnataka/Southern India (2009). In each case, the aspect of different cultures and their specific traditions of dealing with images were as much of a focus as the individual experiences of the participants. At each location the artist carefully dealt with the process of pictorial composition, with each piece working together with local artists and institutions. Several of these workshops ended with the production of a Tableau Vivant. The artist asked the participants for a motif of „their art history“ or „their cultural life“. The image found in this process was then publicly enacted and filmed as A Tableau Vivant. Out of the footage she created single videos, shown in the exhibition at the Kunsthaus Baselland for the first time.
In Myanmar, an artist of the workshop chose an image of a still-practiced ritual in which little boys were temporarily given to the care of a convent. For the participants, the performing of the ritual was more important than the emotional re-enactment of the motif. In Bolivia, the Tableau Vivant was also developed as part of a workshop and resulted from much discussion, discarding and evaluating. The group chose the painting Ultima Cena by Jacopo Bassano, and paid close attention to the individual design of each figure. The aim was to include Bolivian culture to the template, in which Christianity and shamanism, tradition and globalized modernity, indigenous and the European way of life are facing each other. "The intent to present cultural diversity and artistic approaches in an analog process won unexpectedly clear contours, both in the running of the process and in the visual product" (P. Grau). With fellow artists from Basel, she realized Die Nacht of Ferdinand Hodler. In doing so, the focus was mainly on creating an exact match of the template, exempt from the historical interpretation. In her most recent piece, a workshop with students of the Chitrakala Parishath colleges, in collaboration with Indian artist Vivant Smitha Cariappa, led to a Tableau Vivant of an painting of the Mysore School (18. century) called Girija Kalyana. It describes the wedding of the gods Siva and Parvati who, standing before the divine tree, were anointed with milk by the father of the bride. The Indian Tableau Vivant is characterized by the inartificial, natural attitude of the actors, which is surely to be associated with the familiar everyday use of worship and tradition in Bollywood.
The stylistic device of the Tableau Vivant offers numerous possibilities: On one hand, the reenactment is directly linked to the particular reality of life, on the other hand, it offers the opportunity to pick up traditions in a performative way. Pascale Grau also emphasizes the possibility "to keep aspects of cultural memory in the sense of a contemporary perception of archives alive. The re-use can lead to a new assessment or a reassessment. The suppressed can re-appear in a resistive form. The performance itself functions as a document that can be read in a new way."
Image: Lorna Macintyre
Opening 20 January 2010, h 7 pm
St. Jakob-Strasse 170, Basel
Opening Hours Tue, Thu–Sun 11 – 5pm
Wednesday 2 – 8pm
next to the St. Jakob-Park stadium