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Group Exhibition
Art Basel
Messe Basel, Messeplatz, CH-4058 Basel, Switzerland
June 14, 2014 - June 22, 2014

Performing Bodies in Basel: 14 Rooms of Living Art
by Keren Goldberg

Much more interesting than the description of the 14 Rooms performance series, which will take place as part of Art Basel and is organized by star-curators Klaus Biesenbach and Hans Ulrich Obrist, is its call out for participants/performers to take part in it: “If you have an identical twin, use the opportunity to be part of Damien Hirst’s work. War veterans are sought after for part of Santiago Sierra’s performance, and anyone who speaks colloquial British-English and is similar in appearance to Ed Atkins or his avatar (shaved head), should take a look at his casting call.”

It seems a parody of the highly criticized outsourcing of people and appropriation of the human body, which is part of the performance practice, especially present in political works such as those by Santiago Sierra. But with big shots names like the ones mentioned above, this use of the human resource is bound to be intriguing. Fourteen artists will each activate a room, “exploring the relationship between space, time and physicality with an artwork whose ‘material’ is the human being.”

Allora & Calzadilla, 
Revolving Door, 2011, 
11 Rooms, Manchester International Festival
; Photo credit Howard Barlow


Works by Ed Atkins, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, and Otobong Nkanga will be shown for the first time, along side more known performances, such as Marina Abramović’s Luminosity (1997) in which a performer is sitting on a bicycle seat, fixed onto a wall, or Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla’s Revolving Door (2011), where a group of dancers spontaneously form a line and begin to rotate around the room, sweeping up visitors as they go. The impressive list of participating artists forms a mix between performance masters and up-and-coming names: Joan Jonas, Bruce Nauman, and John Baldessari, as well as Tino Sehgal and Jordan Wolfson. And if that’s not enough, they will all perform in purpose-built architectural surroundings designed by the architects Herzog & de Meuron, which will mirror the rooms, creating an illusion of duplication.

Jordan Wolfson, 
(Female Figure), 2014; 
Courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner, New York/London


This will be the fourth edition of this format, which was first shown in Manchester International Festival in 2011 as 11 Rooms, and later in the International Arts Festival Ruhrtriennale in Germany (2012-2014) and in Sydney (2013) as 12 and 13 Rooms respectively. This edition, with its fourteenth room, will open up to the post-internet world with reflections on the digital and on avatars. The project, according to its curators, examines the sculptural quality of performance, while challenging the notion of live art and participatory practice. Shown as part of Art Basel, it might indeed add a critical value, free of commoditization considerations, to one of the major art fairs in the world.

Shave your head, find an identical twin, or simply buy a ticket, but be sure to get into some of these rooms.

Tickets available here.


Keren Goldberg 


(Image on top: Marina Abramovic, 
11 Rooms 11 Rooms Manchester International Festival; Photo credit courtesy Manchester City Galleries)

Posted by Keren Goldberg on 6/15/14 | tags: conceptual Klaus Biesenbach performance hans Ulrich obrist basel art fairs 14 Rooms participatory art basel

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