BASEL.- With Graffiti, the Mexican artist collective Tercerunquinto (‘a third of a fifth’) delivers a conceptual message at the interface of institution and public space. Awaiting the viewer on the back wall of the Kunsthalle is a completely black surface, whose unassuming initial impression belies a work of remarkable potency. Contrary to the expectations generated by the title, we see no political slogans or sophisticated pieces of graffiti art. The original white wall shimmers sporadically through the monochrome black surface, and only a few areas that did not receive several coats still contain clues that Graffiti was created by spraypainting. [...]
A dog is given the instruction to ‘play dead’ on a Persian rug at different times during the exhibition.
“… what is ostensibly a memento mori, or more literally speaking a still life, or even better in French, a nature mort (dead nature), is but a specious reminder of death. ‘A specious reminder’ in the sense that not only is the dog not dead, but dogs, as is well known, do not die, since they do not know, as far as we know, that they can die. Of course, this does not mean they do not cease to exist, but their deaths are not anticipated by the anguish of death nor succeeded by the ceremony that acknowledges it. Thus is the fact of making them “play dead” but an egregious, self- indulgent anthropomorphism –one which, incidentally, becomes symbolic of the will to anthropomorphize tout court.”
Extract from essay on Tragedy by Chris Sharp, 2012
Exhibition on the back wall of the Kunsthalle Basel
The landscapes in Aragón’s work juxtapose those idealized by Western films and
traditional Mexican painting with a real landscape transformed by misery,
corruption, exploitation, and abandonment. In earlier works, land marred by
narcotrafficking, violence, and death is turned into a psychological backdrop to a
more personal narrative, connecting the artist’s childhood to the inherited
landscape of his father’s and grandfather’s Mexico. Often incorporating folksongs,
oral histories and personal narratives, Aragón’s critical approach is always
underscored by a textured familiarity and sensitive attachment to the land.
In this new body of work, <i>Treasure</i>, Aragón presents intimate portraits of ten
families from Mexico City and Oaxaca (including his own) that document the meager
jewels they have managed to conserve across generations despite mounting financial
pressures. The images reflect the failings of a broken society, where inheritance
includes cheap gold and mutilated pieces of jewelry, but also debts accumulated
from the historical system of tiendas de rayas, company stores that tie workers
into a system of small debts (abanos chiquitos), and their contemporary
counterparts whose usurious interest terms continue to create unsustainable
financial burdens. In order to relieve these debts, families are often forced to
pawn their last belongings, typically these small jewels and inherited keepsakes.
Tania Pérez Córdova
Following the notion of breaking an object in order to truly experience it, Nina Beier (*1975, Denmark) presents The Demonstrators, a group of artworks that portrays futility as a state of pure presence.
At the core of Beier’s sculptures are images purchased from various stock photography agencies that come from online sources. These found images are then merged with found objects: poster print-outs are dipped in glue and hung to dry on different sorts of objects that constitute the support.
These ensembles, although apparently simplistic, allow a complete merging of sign, support, and that which is signified, although – at the same time – they could suggest a collapse of language, instead of its configuration. They seek recognizable symbolical value while remaining open metaphors, and have the ability to refer to many things, while left to reflect upon their own sense of ‘being.’ While the poster and its object support are firmly glued together, Beier takes an interest in how they remain without an adhesive that cements subject and object together so that the intentional experience is one.
The work Tania Pérez Córdova (*1979, Mexico City, Mexico) is inspired by her interest in the way that the certainty of an object is created and in the relation between vision and conviction. She explores the situation of objects, paying special attention to the way in which they exist. Pérez Córdova does not believe in the autonomy of objects but in their circumstantial existence and significance. A very important part of her work consists in being really close to the production process, where she can closely analyze the materials and the way in which one thing leads to the other, experiencing the invisible content of a work of art through the space between one object and another.
14.07.2012 — 10.10.2012