For the group exhibition 14 Rooms in Basel (Switzerland), the curators Klaus Biesenbach and Hans Ulrich Obrist invited fourteen international artists to each activate a room, exploring the relationship between space, time, and physicality with an artwork whose “material” is the human being. 14 Rooms was the latest installment of a series of Live Art exhibitions conceived by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Klaus Biesenbach. Originally commissioned as 11 Rooms by Manchester International Festival, the International Arts Festival Ruhrtriennale 2012-2014 and Manchester Art Gallery, the project was shown as 11 Rooms at Manchester International Festival in July 2011, as 12 Rooms at the International Arts Festival Ruhrtriennale 2012-2014 and as 13 Rooms by Kaldor Public Art Projects at Pier 2/3 in Sydney’s Walsh Bay in April 2013. For each edition, the artists list partially changed. 14 Rooms was presented by Fondation Beyeler, Art Basel, and Theater Basel.
Klaus Biesenbach is Director of MoMA PS1 and Chief Curator at Large at The Museum of Modern Art; Hans Ulrich Obrist is Co-director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects at the Serpentine Gallery.
In this video, Biesenbach and Obrist talk about live and performance art, the concept of this exhibition series, the original idea, the concept of the show, and how it evolved over the years. The video above is an excerpt, the complete interview is available further down on this page.
Hans Ulrich Obrist and Klaus Biesenbach Talk About 14 Rooms Live Art Exhibition. 14 Rooms Live Art Exhibition. Messe Basel, Hall 3, Basel (Switzerland), June 12, 2014.
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Complete video (13:41 min.):
The exhibition 14 Rooms featured performative works by artists including Marina Abramović, Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla, Ed Atkins, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Damien Hirst, Joan Jonas, Laura Lima, Bruce Nauman, Otobong Nkanga, Roman Ondák, Yoko Ono, Tino Sehgal, Santiago Sierra, and Xu Zhen. Two more works join the architectural environment conceived by Herzog & de Meuron. Jordan Wolfson’s acting as an epilogue, John Baldessari’s as an archival documentation.
Curators Klaus Biesenbach, Director of MoMA PS1 and Chief Curator at Large at The Museum of Modern Art, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects at the Serpentine Gallery, have invited 14 international artists to each activate a room, exploring the relationship between space, time and physicality with an artwork whose ‘material’ is a human being. Giving visitors an insight into a more performative and interactive practice, visitors will encounter a new situation within each of the 14 rooms, engaging in a diverse series of immersive and intimate experiences.
Conceived specifically for Basel, Ed Atkins, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Otobong Nkanga will create new works for the show. Alongside these world premieres, historical piece by artists such as Bruce Nauman and Yoko Ono will be presented for the first time at 14 Rooms and other rarely seen works by acclaimed artists from around the world will be brought to Basel.
‘14 Rooms’ will include Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla’s ‘Revolving Door’ (2011), in which a group of dancers spontaneously form a line and begin to rotate around the room in a circular motion, sweeping up visitors as they move around the space.
In his exploration of social boundaries and socio-cultural inequalities, Santiago Sierra places a succession of war veterans, from varied past conflicts, standing facing one corner of a 5-5-meter room and instructed to only move from their post once solemnly replaced by another veteran mimicking the changing of the guard.
Damien Hirst’s important early work ‘Hans, Georg’ (1992), consisting of a rotating cast of identical twins sitting below two of his own identical dot paintings, will be restaged at the show under a new title.
Marina Abramović’s ‘Luminosity’ (1997) places a performer on a bicycle seat fixed onto a wall bathed in bright light, exploring themes of loneliness and spiritual elevation.
Roman Ondák’s ‘Swap’ (2011) asks a performer to choose an object as they sit behind a table, and when visitors enter the room they are then able to swap the object with anything else they are willing to exchange, while in Chinese artist Xu Zhen’s ‘In Just a Blink of an Eye’ (2005) a body floats in mid-air as if frozen, defying both time and gravity, and making the audience question reality and reflect on the work’s seeming impossibility.
Artists and the curators will be attending the opening of the exhibition.
While the artists themselves are not present in these works, they instruct performers on how to act out their specifications, resulting in over 70 performers – primarily from the Basel region – taking part in the exhibition. ‘14 Rooms’ will be staged in Hall 3 of Messe Basel in walking distance from Messeplatz. The exhibition will open to the public ahead of Art Basel on Saturday, June 14 and will stay open until Sunday, June 22.