All the players
What would it mean to ask a young artist to begin to conceive and organize a retrospective of her most important works at the beginning of her career, rather than at the end? And to present this retrospective's contents not, as is usually done, in a single space and time, but piece by piece, sequentially, over the duration of an indeterminate number of years-even a decade or more? Moreover, what would it mean for an institution to commit to feature both made and as-yet-unmade artworks in an "exhibition”-one that deliberately announces itself as retro-spective-that will only come into being over time, cumulatively?
Zhana Ivanova's retrospective at Kunsthalle Basel is being staged in reverse-precisely without the safe distance of history to understand, categorize, and contextualize her oeuvre. Conceived in "chapters,” it will ask of its public that they return to Kunsthalle Basel again and again over years to come; that they allow themselves to experience an exhibition in process; that they hold in memory previously seen pieces; that they look at each one in anticipation of how it might connect to what comes next; and that they abandon the expectation of a typical retrospective, with its comfortable all-at-once-ness, its clearly staged beginning, middle, and end.
What better way to feature Ivanova's performance-based works-which themselves tackle unwritten but omnipresent social codes, rules, and systems-than by unmooring the protocols, habits, and conventions of an exhibition? Moreover, what better way to announce the beginning of a new exhibition program for Kunsthalle Basel, which opens in 2015 under a new directorship, than with an exhibition announcing that something new is being set in place, and that much more, yet unknown, is still to come?
Ongoing Retrospective is Ivanova's first solo exhibition in an institution. The opening chapter of Ongoing Retrospective runs from January 29 through February 15, 2015, and features a single piece, All the Players (2013), an artwork that is itself (appropriately) set in the future tense. This piece, like others in Ivanova's practice, is centered on rearranging and reconfiguring patterns and systems to which we have grown accustomed. Ivanova often uses performance in order to artificially induce situations in which social and power relations are in play. Her constructions are initially formal and rule-governed, yet within them she insistently exposes the ambiguity of her own rules. A selection of older, current, and future pieces will be visible in a gradual and ongoing manner; visit kunsthallebasel.ch to find out more.
All The Players, 2013/2015
January 29 - February 15, 2015,
Karen Røise Kielland
Production and Assistance