With Anna Maria Balint, Karsten Födinger, Michiel Huijben, Christian Kosmas Mayer, Valle Medina & Benjamin Reynolds (Pa.LaC.E), Superstudio
Curated by Bianca Pedrina
11 October - 15 November 2020
4058 Basel, Switzerland
«Grandfather's Axe» also well-known as the «Ship of Theseus» is a paradox that has been discussed since antiquity. Does an object lose its identity when many or even all of its individual parts are replaced or renewed one after the other? Can we still speak of the same axe after the handle and head have been replaced one after the other? What about the identity of a place? What exactly constitutes a place? To what extent is the identity of a building, a room or a place influenced, shaped and formed by its past, present and future components?
The Klingental exhibition space is surrounded by historical layers, which are not only expressed as geological and archaeological finds and results of measuring, but are also anchored in an immaterial form - for example in collective memory, in individual associations, by medieval looking facades or in things that are not even spoken.
Following the current urban planning interventions in the Basel barracks area, the artistic positions in the exhibition Grandfather's Axe deal with how a cityscape is formed, how a city is perceived and question its history and the memories associated with them. In particular, the exhibition addresses the materiality of these questions and their geological characteristics, and at the same time treats them as speculative future scenarios. The different positions are concentrated on the space, in order to understand it, its history and its conditions or they take the Klingental exhibition space as a starting point to explore overarching and fundamental questions about architecture and places.
In her work Fragments, Anna Balint (CH, lives in Basel) examines the Gothic windows of Klingental church, which was destroyed by several structural transformation processes, and in the past few centuries their original form has been lost. In the recent excavations of the «Archäologische Bodenforschung Basel», a handful of colorful shards from former glass windows were discovered. Despite these few remains, it can be assumed that they were from original windows of the monastery church, that may have been works rich with figures and colors that were common at that time.
Balint traces this «gap» in the history of the Klingental church and exhibits sculptures of antique glass, which is professionally manufactured with so-called lead rods, the characteristic metal bracing used in church windows. At the same time, they’re glass sculptures but also with their own texture, and they question the corporeality of flat objects and the materiality of light and shadow.
Karsten Födinger (DE, lives in Berlin) deals with the contrasts of the complex history of the former military barracks area (Kaserne Basel). He is interested in the social dimension of the uses and conversions - the seclusion and introversion of the spiritual life in the Klingental Monastery, the isolation caused by the military use as barracks, the subsequent opening up to the population and cultural use, right up to the physical permeability for paths between Kleinbasel and the banks of the Rhine.
This is reflected in the traces of the conversions and extensions, the materials that came together and the resulting transitions. Here, the constant processes of transformation become apparent, reflecting the spirit of the exhibition as a search for the identity of a place.
Födinger contrasts these traces and processes with a personal history and search. He juxtaposes the pillars of the exhibition space, which support the studio building above, with a site-specific sculpture: The Domestic Wildcard - Klingentalerin.
The concept of the Domestic Wildcards goes back to a previously unfeasible work, the implementation of which he has been pursuing since 2010 - segments from existing columns of an exhibition space are to be removed and replaced by a sculpture that supports the architecture above.
The Klingentalerin is a 250 cm high concrete column sculpture made of red concrete, dyed with a pigment made of iron oxide, which the architectural firm Focketyn Del Rio is currently using in the conversion of the Kaserne Basel. The modern material of the concrete thus imitates the texture and color of the red sandstone that was used in the Middle Ages to build the Klingental Monastery and later also in the construction of the barracks.
The theme of transition is reflected in the sculpture itself. In its form - in its center the shape changes from an octagonal to a square cross-section - as well as in its own history of conversion. The negative form was once shown as a counterpart to the columns in the Museum of Contemporary Art at the ZKM, Karlsruhe, all wooden forms filled with gypsum plaster. Here it materializes in concrete, in «Basel Red».
Michiel Huijben (NL, lives in Rotterdam) uses text, performance and video to explore architecture and architectural objects. By examining human relationships to architecture, he attempts to grasp the relationship of the individual to the world.
The video work How Small a Thought has its starting point in a door handle, which was designed by the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein for the Wittgenstein House in 1927. With the help of this handle, he questions in his work the relationships between thinking and acting, language and image. With its asymmetrical form, it serves him as a starting point and stimulus for his reflections.