I spy with my little eye – can you see what I see?

An archive photograph tells the story of a special moment in the gallery’s timeline

An archive photograph tells the story of a special moment in the gallery’s timeline

“The biggest stress test ever up to that point!” announces Stefan von Bartha when looking at this photo and recalling this special period in 2011. Never before did the gallery have to manage four projects of such importance and scale at the same time, which of course had to be entirely managed by a team of only four people!

This photo brings that all to mind at once. It also graced the cover of the gallery’s second quarterly magazine for that year and was arranged with the precision of a painted still life by Stefan and photographer Andreas Zimmermann. At a first glance, it could even be mistaken for a ‘trompe l’oeil’, in which carefully composed objects tell a story in an illusionistic way. This thoughtfully staged photograph condenses a significant moment in the gallery’s history and each object tells a story of its own.

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Wooden transport boxes, a water level, packing tape, corner pads and moving blankets are witnesses to the gallery’s everyday life, a large sticker reveals one of the themes of the staging, for Art Basel 2011. An important art fair always means a lot of preparation, but in 2011 two striking large-scale projects by Christian Andersson and Daniel Robert Hunziker had been accepted for Art Basel Unlimited. Meanwhile, the other heads of the gallery were working on a complex group exhibition‚ titled Wall Floor Piece, featuring more than 10 different artists and curated by Reto Thüring at our Basel space.
All this whilst tackling the major workload that comes with the planning of one the most important art fairs of the year.

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But let‘s take a closer look at what else we can see.
The photo below, shows the sketch of a huge sculpture by Swedish artist Christian Andersson, which he created in memory of Magritte’s famous painting ‘Art de la Conversation’; a collection of stone blocks revealing the word ‘REVE’ (dream), which reads ‘EVER’ when viewed from the opposite side – hint No.1 to the Art Basel Unlimited project, where the sketch was realised (and to this day, Christian talks about the creation of the Unlimited piece as the most physically demanding and one of the longest construction processes he ever experienced – you get the idea, people were reaching their limits).

If you look at the large black-and-white photo in the top left-hand corner, you will discover the original printing plate of a publication about Daniel Robert Hunziker – hint No. 2 to the Art Basel Unlimited project.

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Installation view, Beat Zoderer
from 'Wall Floor Piece'
von Bartha, Basel, 2011

Sarah Oppenheimer greets us from the centre of the picture with a geometric sculpture made of folded metal, and the black and white kinetic work by Jean Tinguely catches the eye: a reference to the dialogue between modernism and contemporary art, which is significant for the gallery, which spans over generations and was the theme of the Art Basel booth.
The contents of the boxes, which conceal works by Anna Dickinson, Imi Knoebel and Andrew Bick – artists who are still closely associated with the gallery a good ten years later- allude to the same topic.
The title of Beat Zoderer‘s yellow catalogue for his important exhibition at Haus Konstruktiv in Zurich (2008) does not only refer to the group show Wall Floor Piece at the gallery, but also seems appropriate as a motto and manifesto for interpreting this photo and for the work of von Bartha in general: “New Tools for old Attitudes“.

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