Zachary Formwalt: The Form of Practical Memory / Kunsthalle Basel

The Form of Practical Memory at Kunsthalle Basel is American artist Zachary Formwalt’s first major individual exhibition. The exhibition’s title borrows from one of Walter Benjamin’s passages: “Sammeln ist eine Form des praktischen Erinnerns” (“Collecting is a form of practical memory”).

The works that are on display in the Oberlichtsaal, the historic gallery of Kunsthalle Basel, comprise two films and several series of photographs. They are connected by the artist’s research into archival documents and imagery related to the history of economics.

The new film In Place of Capital (2009), uses the picture of the Royal Exchange building in London (1844) to show how economic movements fail to appear photographically; the second film on view, At Face Value (2008), is a conversation between Zachary Formwalt and his father about his father’s historical stamp collection and the links between collecting, the iconography stamps and their value.

Another work is a series of photographs from a business district in Amsterdam, where the streets are named after famous economists.

“Formwalt’s work looks at the possibility of giving form to immaterial ideas and materializing processes whose internal workings usually remain obscure while their results can be seen and felt by everyone. How historical memory functions and fails, how the economy works and collapses, and how the two can be intertwined in still photographic images and film are the key questions in Formwalt’s work.” (Excerpt from the press release).

Zachary Formwalt was born in 1979 in Albany, Georgia, and has been living and working in Amsterdam as a resident of the Rijksakademie since 2008. He is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and attended the Critical Postgraduate Program at the Malmö Art Academy in 2004 and 2005. He has presented solo projects at the Elder Gallery, Lincoln (2006) and the Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art, Malmö (2005).

Zachary Formwalt: The Form of Practical Memory. Opening reception at Kunsthalle Basel. Basel / Switzerland, September 5, 2009.

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