Until 2010, balzerARTprojects was mainly a curatorial project. Inter/national and local artist/curatorial contacts and our co-ownership of FILTER4 culture affairs (www.filter4.ch), an independent, alternative, non-for-profit art space in Basel, dedicated to facilitating, promoting and presenting cutting-edge contemporary art, led to opening a small gallery space close to the Basel Messe.
balzerARTprojects is especially committed to presenting socially and culturally relevant exhibitions while seeking positions, which challenge our cultural frameworks, aesthetic assumptions and artistic strategies. The gallery has become a forum for exhibitions, discussion and experimentation, and provides the stage for diverse visual statements and positions. We focus on showing and supporting young artists, but also present older, established artists whose work fits in with the galleries programme of emerging talents. Recently, we also started an international curatorial initiative. In 2013/14, plans are for a show with emerging artists mainly from Brazil, organized and curated by a Puerto-Rican/Brazilian team of curators and critics.
Exhibition Statement “Rock-Paper-Scissors”:
The show is curated in the spirit of a children’s game “Rock-Paper-Scissors” which transcends national and cultural boundaries. It originated in China in the Han Dynasty 206 BCE to 220 CE), and is played in almost infinite variation all over the world. The game is often used as a choosing method in a way similar to coin flipping, drawing straws, or throwing dice. However, unlike truly random selection methods, “Rock-Paper-Scissors can be played with a degree of skill, especially if the game extends over many sessions with the same players.
In this exhibition artists are brought together from different cultural and artistic backgrounds – moving on the common ground of visual representation. As much as the game, the medium paper – in the context of visual representation, its necessity for daily existence and its potential for visual versatility is key to each artist’s work. At the same time, fragility and ephemerality are being highlighted by playing with the medium. Text and language, inseparable from paper, permeate each artist’s work.
Oliver Lang (*1966) is among a small number of outstanding artists who have succeeded in investing the photographic medium with a new intensity and potency. Characterized by clarity and formal precision, his position is that of an anthropologist who examines, analyzes, reports on, and compares different cultures. The subject matter of his photos is the contemporary world, seen dispassionately and from a distance. His interest in people and their relationships brings him into different areas of human interaction.
Lang’s investigation into the relationship of individuals to their physical and cultural surroundings underwrites his exploration of social interactions. In the “Peoples” series, the “subjects” are smiling but not all of them are at ease. Lang meets people in parking lots, shopping malls, beaches, streets, all together familiar places. But while he takes their pictures, his subjects are left with different levels of comfort, and so are his viewers.
Ao Tajima (*1979 Tokyo) received her early training at Tama Art University in Tokyo. In February 2012 she is graduating from the prestigious Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf in the class of Prof. Rosemaire Trockel.
Ao’s work is marked by an ironic take on social conventions and artistic norms. She strives to explore the nature of art focusing on ideas at the fringe rather than on producing art per se. Her positions are often self-referential, critical of the nature of artistic production and the value of the materiality of the art object as such
In her work, she does not limit herself to specific media – big topics stand in the fore: inter-human and inter und cross-cultural relationships. She materializes her thoughts in sculpture, installation, photography, drawings, collages and painting. In this exhibition, Tajima presents her beautiful drawings on old-fashioned handkerchiefs,
Mimi von Moos (*1969 in Luzern) lives and works in Basel. Much of von Moos’ work is characterized by an interest in language, often manifesting itself in a playful, mischievous manner. She is a gifted story teller and writer and her artistic positions can be “read” as ways to make visual sense of the written and spoken word. There are very serious concerns at the heart of Mimi’s practice. She is fascinated by the nature of communication and language\'s inherent problems, as well as the role of the artist as supposed communicator and manipulator of visual symbols. This is particularly potent in her audio-visual installation “Textil/e”.
Nicole Schmid (*1975 in Heiden/AR, Switzerland) is currently working towards a Masters degree in Fine Arts at Zürcher Hochschule der Künste. Schmid often transforms materials commonly found in art studios and construction sites into unexpected forms, exposing the scientific and spiritual potency of these seemingly humble objects. She subtly utilizes mostly ephemeral matter, such as wax and situations found in the natural world. After long processes of keen observation, she comes across her materials by coincidence. In Taschenzeichnungen and Windzeichnungen, she intervenes into the involuntary act of movement by a lady’s handbag, in the former or the wind, as in the latter, with pencil and paper. Unexpected shapes develop and manifest themselves. By leaving a physical mark, she eternalizes this contribution, exposing man\'s ongoing impulse to manipulate his surroundings, even without leaving physical evidence of his existence. In most of her work, also her photographic positions, she delicately balances notions of stability and instability, construction and destruction. Her work offers a bittersweet reminder of the temporality of the artistic gesture.
Andi Bauer (*1981 in Böblingen, Germany) crosses the bridge between photography, sculpture and performance. For example, he meticulously arranges everyday objects in unusual ways only to destroy, collapse, explode or crush the arrangement again. The performative aspect is then captured by the camera. By abstracting his chosen objects, he focuses our attention on the everyday, the unnoticed. His camera documents the facts – it is a tool that helps to make the viewer wonder about process, concept, and the integrity of the depicted. The photograph as object, as the final aesthetic product, marks a crucial point in a continuous process of art making - the process is ephemeral and transient and the product is the record of the process, and as such, permanent. Bauer’s photographs show only a brief moment in the process - the way an installation grows, stays, falls apart. They mark the moment when the work is most alive, when the tension and intensity is the highest.
Parallel to his photography, Bauer has recently started to build brilliant sculpture from teenage fantasy cartoon books. His sculptures are intricate, vertical labyrinths of geometrically patterned pages. His sculptures are made of many pages and multiple layers.
EddiE haRA (* 1957 in Salatiga, Java), lives and works in Basel and Jakarta. He is one of the fifteen most important contemporary artists coming out of Indonesia right now. In the summer of 2011, his work toured Asia and Great Britain in a group show representing contemporary Indonesian positions. (\"Indonesian Eye: Fantasies and Realities\", Ciputra Gallery Jakarta, Indonesia and Saatchi Gallery London, UK) haRA has shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Cuba, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. He is no stranger to the international art world. His paintings and sculptures are included in collections such as the Singapore Art Museum, Museum der Kulturen, Basel as well as private and corporate collections worldwide. Bold and colorful depictions of beasts, cartoon-like figures and animals characterize his visual language. Synonymous for the reality of human interaction, these creatures display an almost infinite variety of emotions such as anger, humor, cynicism, diabolism, love, happiness, sadness, melancholia and optimism.
EddiE haRA clearly positions himself visually outside traditional parameters. In Western, as well as Asian art, mainstream culture managed to assimilate every new development, and by doing so took away whatever power it might have had. The discovery of a aesthetic code outside the tradition of fine art, using the multi-cultural aesthetic language of “outsider art” allows haRA to investigate “human problems in the world”, the self-declared purpose of his work. Outsider art by definition includes graffiti, the work of the insane, prisoners, children, and naïve and primitive artists. haRA’s work is complex, but humorous and the viewers can, but does not have to, read it politically.
Nici Jost (*1984 Banff, Canada) is a young conceptual/multimedia/photography artist from Zürich. Essential is the exploration of the sublime tensions between technology and nature, space and perception, identity and image. In her installation and photographs, Jost pushes the boundaries between reality, fantasy and fiction, making the viewer re-evaluate his/her natural and conceptual reference models as the audience enters imaginary, yet surprisingly real worlds with intense colors and surreal perspectives. The collaboration of artist and viewers is essential. The mobilization of our senses to attune us to questions of space and place and the meaning of time is the center of her undertakings.
Jost\'s photographic work transforms objects and commonly found views. –Her pictures freely traverse the myriad paths of human expression, desires, dreams and wishes in physical manifestations.
Tom Fellner (*1956 in New York City) lives and works in Zürich, Switzerland. His current work takes us by surprise. Fist of all, he uses watercolor, a seemingly “old-fashioned,” amateurish, but ultimately very difficult technique. Furthermore, he increases the sizes of the work into non-watercolor dimension of up to 6 feet! Based on a varied selection of images of so-called \"monster toys\" taken from the Internet and specialized magazines, Fellner develops new visual worlds. But his \"monster paintings\" contain not only monster toys, but also pictorial elements referencing art history – This is combined and updated with close attention to color (often taken into extremes) and overtly sexual symbols. Fellner\'s painting manifestly emphasizes the gap between low and high aesthetics, humorously and ironically hinting at a possible connection between trivial children\'s toys, sex and the \"high art\" of our adult world.
Sebastian Mejia’s (*1980 Cali, Colombia) objects, photographs, videos and installations are experimental set-ups. His work is motivated by his cultural and visual surroundings, initiating all kinds or different works. The work shown in the exhibition are experimental 2D-photographs, set ups/cut outs, which play with the vision and the expectations of the viewers, making himself question his culturally and aesthetically manifested expectation. “I have always found it difficult to talk about my work. My creative attempts and artistic experiments are unseizable for my intellect, my rational thinking – I myself cannot comprehend them or bring them down to a few words – all I can do is attempt a “subjective approximation” of what I do and feel. Often, I have difficulties to translate my work and even my thought processes into words, to formulate them intelligently, I have started to work with books and notebooks, but left out letters, words, literary or scientific texts, type writers, poems or just scribbled notes that show traces of the hand of an author. I am searching for hidden shapes and images in the structures of the texts or even pictures – this is the motor, the driving force of my work. (…) In general, I am looking for freedom from narrative pressures, to bring out a feeling that cannot be seized with words. I often see myself as uncreative and unimaginative artist. Here, humor serves as valve for relief, comic relief as they say – I am on the other hand by nature rather un-humorous, a very serious person. I inject all my humor into me works, I laugh through my art.”