In this video we attend the opening of the exhibition “Rheinweg” by Swiss artist Bianca Pedrina at Artachment Art Space in Basel, Switzerland. The exhibition deals with the notion of borders, borders that in the Basel region have been something that you naturally cross all day, but temporarily became impermeable walls again to fight the first wave of the pandemic.
Since 2007, Artachment has presented contemporary art at its exhibition space in the Rheinhafen area (Dreiländereck. tri-border area, FR,DE,CH) of Basel-Kleinhüningen. Founded as a non-profit project by Raphael Bottazzini, Artachment was established to invite external curators. In 2018, Bottazzini took over the project’s curatorial reins in order to lead the institution into the future.
Bianca Pedrina: Rheinweg. Solo exhibition at Artachment Art Space in Basel. Opening reception, July 3, 2021.
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Exhibition text by Isabel Zürcher, June 2021:
Born in Basel in 1985, Bianca Pedrina is part of a generation that has always experienced stepping into a neighbouring country as a free and open act – at least until pandemic times that is. The small art pavilion’s year of construction, on the other hand, is 1944, which falls into the Second World War, and such discrepancy alone evokes the theme and motif of borders. The physical border in question here runs in the middle of the Rhine and reaches German and French territory in just a few hundred meters. Who has the right to draw a border and why? And where does the river determine its course and where do corporations, the army or the immigration police do so? On the opposite, French riverbank, a foot and bicycle path leads along the old Lindan landfill. Novartis, its current owner, removed the soil containing pesticide residue that had accumulated here up until the 1970s. After decades of running it as a strictly closed campus, the chemical company is presenting the prospect of slowly opening the premises to the public. The barriers surrounding the privatized area remain striking, and on its chain link fence, Bianca Pedrina found the picture of a locked door. This multi-layered portrait of a barrier printed on a tent sheet recites its message: attached to a high fence, the picture in the picture is reprinted on PVC. The summer sun protection on the whitewashed pavilion contradicts the desire for admission, freedom of movement and accessibility. An advertising space emptied to its crude base blocks the view of the wasteland. Inside, another membrane lends unwritten border stories to a multitude of associations. Bianca Pedrina printed her recording of sunlight reflections on the water’s surface on neoprene. Now the insulation layer is accessible in the exhibition space. As the floor’s second skin, it inverts the meaning of diving suit fabric and combines in its black buffer materiality our need for protection, the cool of the river and the dreamy imagery of a starry night sky. Bars, fences, barriers – depending on your location and timing – represent imprisonment or protection. Bianca Pedrina, granddaughter of war refugees, only knows indirectly of the historic dangers, prohibitions and surveillances on the Rhine. Impressions of illegal arrivals, border guards and expulsions from the country have been silenced for a long time and now appear only as hints in the photographic image. The plastic has absorbed the past without a word. The wind plays with the memory of makeshift dwellings. Dreams and traumas are reflected gently in the reference system of surfaces.