CLAUDIACOMTEbasel

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ART BASEL 2017
CLAUDIA COMTE
NOW I WON
12 – 18 JUNE 2017
CURATED BY CHUS MARTINEZ
COMMISSIONED BY ART BASEL
ART BASEL | 15 – 18 JUNE
Messe Basel Messeplatz 10
4005 Basel Switzerland
https://www.artbasel.com/

https://estherartnewsletter.wordpress.com/2017/05/25/art-basel17/

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MESSEPLATZ BASEL
LAUNCH OF THE EXHIBITION CATALOGUE
WEDNESDAY, 14. JUNE  2017 | NOON
Messe Basel Messeplatz 10
4005 Basel Switzerland
https://www.artbasel.com/

 

 

NOW I WON

The Inexhaustible Goodwill of an Epic in the Present Tense

Now I Won is a sculptural palimpsest so monumental that for days, weeks even, I’ve been unable to see that the Now and the Won are actually the same thing. I hadn’t realized it when I studied the renderings of the work on my screen, or the printouts on my desk. It was only when the letter-trees were installed at the top of the slope, screaming loud that they were all the same, all saying the same thing, that I began to grasp this.

This fact proves two things: my love for inexactness and the effectiveness of “memory sculpture” like Now I Won. A memory sculpture is not shaped by spatial configuration alone; it is also produced by the insertion or inscription of a corporeal memory into the work. Every description of Now I Won states that the piece is monumental, and it is. However, its size, typology, materials, and function remain clearly distinct from a monument or a memorial. It relates to a specific tradition of installation in the public space, yet it addresses us—as individuals, as inhabitants, as beholders—rather than the nation or the community. If a monument, let’s say, articulates official history, Now I Won is more empathetic. A sculpture with a funfair inside, the piece relies on the experiential memory of another event: the immensely popular and historic Basel Autumn Fair, whose diverse amusements happen every year on the same site. In doing so, Now I Won also addresses every form of living memory that produces a bond between people and the public space, including living bodies and individual experiences of not only joy but also pain. Unfortunately our public life is marked by pain. Today and historically popular gatherings are targets of violence because they bear the character of “the public.” It’s not the “fun” in funfairs that matters most, but the joy in a shared possibility to have an active public life. There are many ways to foster the new social and political skills that every historical transformation—globalization, or life together under the threat of terrorism or rightwing ideologies and practices—demands. Now I Won does so by offering itself as a medium. The piece is invariably marked by the situation, its position at the entrance to the biggest Western art-trading enterprise, but it doesn’t play with it. Instead it offers its own body, all its organs, all its parts, as the basic matter of the desire to play, and to the expectation to win if blessed by luck. If we think of the piece as a funfair replica, we’ll run into all the problems of cultural theory and its determination to understand criticality as opposition. A monumental funfair made by hand that occupies the main square of an event where art trading is the central activity will inevitably risk being insufficiently “different” or too happy or soft. But if we think of the sculpture as a bold exercise in metamorphosis —a piece composed of many pieces, functioning almost like organs of the artwork mutating into a slope and a funfair to serve and support us, the people, the public, the beholders, the passersby— then its force gains a new dimension. Think of the animated character Barbapapa, created in the 1970s by French architect Annette Tison and her husband Talus Taylor. The power of this cotton candy-like new living species is its ability to take any form. Its creators write: “With a few shape shifting and a brilliant imagination, he smoothly overcomes the most difficult situations! He is always ready to help. His goodwill is inexhaustible.” If offering Barbapapa in exchange of solid criticalschool ideas of opposition seems too much for many, it is. To think about the possibilities of this inexhaustible goodwill as a method to deal with the relation of public memory to history and forgetting in our dramatically changing social context insufflates pure encouragement. There is no other way to introduce the importance of metamorphosis than by way of an anti-epic wit that playfully refers to the need of a radical empathy and to the fact that this becoming another being always implies the impossibility of the unity embodied in a hierarchical understanding of authority, of morality ruling the social through a central tone.

 

KÖNIG GALERIE BOOTH
HALL 2.1 | BOOTH L6
MESSEPLATZ 10, 4005 BASEL

 

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And it is this wit that explains the Flintstones aesthetics of Now I Won. Trees trying to write the billboard slogan Now I Won, the funfair and its handmade character… it all has the touch of a fantasy version of a past that is not “one” past or our past or a historical past. It is instead a collage of a cartoon-paleo-stone-age past where the coexistence of all is key. The creative use of anachronisms is also a reflection of the ongoing political, cultural, and media misuse of apocalyptic futures. Placed at the new Messeplatz with its technical architectural character, at the global center of art trading, Now I Won is set in a post-apocalyptic time, but one that also managed to skip the disaster all together because it never was part of any historical time—a weird, nature-based hybrid happy to be totally outdated. And this is what really contributes to the creation of a new and productive epic style. It is one made not of all the disasters in front of us, but of a necessary joy in this transitional moment. It promotes a sense of the people, of us all regardless of our citizenship, an invocation in the present tense to the goodwill we need in order to develop a new social body.

Chus Martinez

 

 

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KUNSTMUSEUM LUZERN
CLAUDIA COMTE
10 ROOMS, 40 WALLS, 1059 M2
ON VIEW: 04.03. – 18.06.2017
Europaplatz 1, 6002 Luzern
https://www.kunstmuseumluzern.ch/ausstellungen/claudia-comte/

 

KÖNIG GALERIE

ST. AGNES
ALEXANDRINENSTR. 118–121
10969 BERLIN
WWW.KOENIGGALERIE.COM

 

 

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