Basel

Unlimited

June 16-19, 2022

Curator's Statement - Giovanni Carmine

A Loud Choir

A troop of mannequins greets the audience as they enter Unlimited. They wear the designs that artist Andrea Zittel has tailored and worn for herself for over a decade (A-Z Personal Uniforms, 2003- 2013). Her idiosyncratic garments testify to an attempt to create and live a utopia. Not far away, 60 rugs by Malaysian artist Yee I-Lann occupy a huge wall (TIKAR/MEJA, 2020). They were created in collaboration with women weavers in her homeland – a symbol of an effort to overcome colonial, patriarchal, and bureaucratic power. This effort has proliferated in Southeast Asia with the help of the ‘table,’ the piece of furniture which has emblematically displaced and replaced the carpet as a place of gathering. In the current historical moment, utopias seem urgent and necessary. No less urgent is the theme of imposing power structures and the traditional ideology of representation. Thomas J Price radically questions the idea of the monument, both on the technical level and by making the underrepresented the main actors. His giant bronze figure of a Black woman (Moments Contained, 2022), for example, appears to oversee the proceedings with confidence. Barthélémy Toguo also subverts the artistic canon by immortalizing ordinary people from Cameroon in wood relief portraits. Making art, however, not only heralds the desire to create new things, but also the need to understand reality and to bring the chaos of history into some sort of control, as well as to locate one’s own particular position in that history. This happens, for example, in Hanne Darboven’s Ost-West-Demokratie (1983), a work that surprises and arrests us with its relevancy to the present. Or in Anna Maria Maiolino’s film diptych, in which she excavates the inconceivable violence of a military dictatorship and the accompanying handicaps of powerlessness. But other paths also lead to this order. Stano Filko, for example, developed his own cosmogony, in which everything has its appointed place and can be explained in a logical fashion. This Unlimited 2022 is decidedly intense, no less a reflection on the contradictory era in which we live. A powerful expression of this is the polymorphous chorus of artistic voices in this exhibition, singing in protest against isolation, loneliness, and indifference. The chants are becoming louder and ever-more discernible.