Goshka Macuga: I Am Become Death at Kunsthalle Basel is the Polish-born artist’s first institutional solo exhibition in continental Europe. The show comprises an ensemble of photographic works, constructions made of wood, and a new documentary film.
The artist’s practice has always been marked by an interest in collaboration with other artists and cultural producers. Goshka Macuga also makes extensive use of existing cultural material. In her current show Goshka Macuga among others refers to Robert Oppenheimer, the director of the Manhattan Project, Edward Steichen’s exhibition Road to Victory and its display concept by Herbert Bayer, the Vietnam War, and an exhibition Robert Morris conceived for the Tate Gallery, and German art historian Aby Warburg’s exploration of Hopi culture.
For instance, the show includes replicas of some of the sculptures Robert Morris made for his exhibition at the Tate Gallery in London in 1971. The constructions that Morris created – made out of wood, steel and ropes – encouraged viewers’ physical interaction. But the show closed after the first weekend because some visitors had injured themselves while using sculptures in a performative way. “In the context of the Vietnam War, the possibility of participating in this exhibition at one’s own risk can read as a political statement on the nature of the freedom and limitations imposed by the state and (art) institution.” (PR Kunsthalle Basel).
“I Am Become Death investigates the aesthetic form as a weapon deployed in conflicts between political powers and the impact of official ideologies on the production of art that still aspires to autonomy. At the same time, the exhibition puts forward the possibility that aesthetic potential can be used to opposite ends, as a means of taking a critical look at the present day.” (PR Kunsthalle Basel).
Goshka Macuga was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1967. She lives and works in London. In 2008, she was one of the four nominees for the Turner Prize.
The exhibition runs until the 8th March 2009. There will be a film screening on the occasion of the show on January 27, 2009 at 8pm.
Impressions of the opening on January 15, 2009. Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland.
> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.