Picks from Art Statements, Art Unlimited and Swiss Art Awards

After seeing so much art lately, I have to say that I’m a bit burnt out, especially from the sheer quantity of banality that passes for greatness. I’m bored of hearing gallerists and artists throw around the term “conceptual art” for any scribble, blank page, or lack of content and form. Besides the fact that conceptual art was once upon a time interesting when it was first being truly explored in the 60s, I think that now more than ever artists actually have a responsibility to communicate.  Relying only on their “concepts” doesn’t cut it.  But that doesn’t mean there aren’t artists whose work is conceptually strong, and who manage to transcend this condition – they are the few that actually make the connection.

Maybe due to overload, or ennui, my benchmark was set quite high this year – that’s why I found the Swiss Art Awards to be rather bland.  There were, however,  a few projects that stood out (unfortunately my choices don’t really coincide with the jury’s).

Navid Tschopp’s live skype projection and conversation between visitor (in the Swiss Art Awards exhibition hall in Basel) and himself (from his Zurich studio) – quite disconcerting (to be talking to a wall…), but fun and truly connective.

Cat Tuong Nguyen’s video of himself performing a street-crossing in mad traffic in Saigon.
(unfortunately I didn’t take a picture).

I am now seeing that I long for humor and social commentary….

Art Statements, like last year, was also rather weak with a few exceptions.

Dominick Lang (whose work I also saw at the Paris Triennale) at Hunt Kastner, Prague

Amalia Pica’s sculptures at Galeria Diana Stigter in Art Statements, really made me laugh – loved her work.




Rokni Haerizadeh’s A Place Beyond Good and Evil, Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, was really interesting and mesmerizing even, and the newspaper that was distributed along with the project was also good. It is an animation collaged on top of telecasts of the Iranian protests two years ago, along with Bosch-esque drawings of monsters and creatures on top of newspaper photographs also documenting the Iranian protests.

But by far the best piece in Statements was the video by Martin Skauen, Slideshow Johnny, a personal account of an experimental artist and his influences, but delivered in a hilarious and biting manner.

Then there was Art Unlimited….(unlimited financing for state-of-the art production costs…)
But even here there were some things to choose from.

ARIEL SCHLESINGER’s piece was suspenseful and kinda unsettling…will it explode?
Title | Untitled (Empty Room), 2012
Media | Gas tanks, propane, glass door, nozzle; dimensions variable

It was difficult not to be impressed by DAMIÁN ORTEGA’s installation – very photogenic
Architecture Without Architects, 2010
Mixed-media installation; dimensions variable

JIMMIE DURHAM
Title | Homage to Luis Buñuel, 2012
Media | Installation

PHYLLIDA BARLOW
Title | untitled: stage, 2011
Media | Timber, polystyrene, paint; overall dimensions: 1297⁄8 x 5311⁄2 x 1967⁄8 inches,
330 x 1350 x 510 cm

MELVIN EDWARDS was the type of conceptual, minimalist art that I wanted to see again and again – very good stuff
Pyramid up and down pyramid, 1970/2012
Barbed wire and chain

And so was ROBERT MORRIS’s eternally relevant and contemporary floor installation, which encouraged the visitor to find a path
Untitled (Scatter Piece), 1968/69
Felt, steel, lead, copper, zinc, aluminum, brass; indeterminate dimensions

FRANZ WEST
Title | Gekröse, 2011
Media | Lacquered aluminum

RICHARD WENTWORTH
Title | A Room Full of Lovers, 2012
Media | Steel, chain, and C – clamps

On NINA BEIER’s rug a dog would come and lie down every 10 minutes or so (I missed him) and would play dead.
Title | Tragedy, 2011
Media | Persian rug, dog; edition of 3

The ubiquitous UGO RONDINONE
primitive, 2011
60 parts: cast bronze patinated, stained-glass window, steel frame; site-specific
dimensions

ALICJA KWADE’s bricolage installation was great
In Circles, 2012
Metal plates, metal pipes, metal mesh, perforated metal, metal rails, steel plates,
steel bar, copper tubes, brass rings, brass rods, euro coins, wood moldings, wood
panels, glass panels, mirrors, door, bricks, window, neon tubes, lacquer, rust;
approx. 280 x diameter 1200 cm

VALENTIN CARRON is the new face of the Swiss Pavilion in the next Venice Biennale
Title | They I you he we, 2012
Media | Wrought iron; 393¾ inches, 1000 cm

JOËLLE TUERLINCKX
Title | The Working Palace (La Scène Primitive, acte Art Basel – Art Unlimited – 2012), 2012
Media | Decor (cyma of variable materials), variable wall sheeting (paper, variable pigments,
laser print on paper), different scenic elements (filament, cord, anatomic models,
paper beadlets …), variable lighting (LED, flashlight, theater spots, fair lighting)

One piece that I didn’t get to experience although I would have loved to was Mike Nelson’s After Kerouac.  The line was gigantic and I was on a tight schedule.

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One thought on “Picks from Art Statements, Art Unlimited and Swiss Art Awards

  1. did you know that there could have been a kind of pun in the work of UGO RONDINONE (Primitive)? In Italian RONDINE means swallow! (get it? his last name is RONDINONE, that means “big rondine” that is “big swallow”! and what do you see on the floor? 60 bronze smallish birds…swallows??? heh, heh, heh…

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