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June 11, 2014

A Human Sculpture Gallery at Art Basel

By Sasha Levine | Art

A Human Sculpture Gallery at Art Basel
Courtesy of RUHRTRIENNALE 2012-14; © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd.
All rights reserved. Pro Litteris, Zurich

“I’m not the type of curator who likes to put things in frames or on pedestals,” says Klaus Biesenbach, director of MoMA PS1 and chief curator at large at the Museum of Modern Art.

The statement could apply to any number of projects he’s had a hand in (consider last year’s “A Lot of Sorrow” by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, in which the band The National played its song “Sorrow” continuously for six hours), but it serves as the perfect introduction to his latest work: “14 Rooms.” Created in collaboration with Hans-Ulrich Obrist—codirector of exhibitions and programs and director of international projects at the Serpentine Gallery in London—the exhibit opens June 14 for a run at this year’s Art Basel (June 19–22).

The work, first curated by the pair in 2011 for the Manchester International Festival as “11 Rooms,” invites 14 international artists to engage a room using actors as their primary “material.” Combining instruction art (explicit directions from artists to individuals on how to install their works) with performance art to create a series of immersive and intimate experiences, the exhibit showcases labor, performance, reinterpretation, dance or acting. The works in turn take on the proportions of a living sculpture gallery, with possibilities for spectator interaction and participation.

This year’s artists include Damien Hirst (whose piece is pictured above), Marina Abramovic, Tino Sehgal, Yoko Ono, Bruce Nauman and John Baldessari, who showcase pieces involving an endless chain of bartered goods, a group of dancers rotating in a chain and a person who floats mysteriously in midair.

“Normally exhibitions have a very limited lifespan—they come, they go, they are disbanded,” says Obrist. “Our exhibition, however, functions differently. It can continue to exist indefinitely in the form of instructions. Someone could easily revive ‘14 Rooms’ in a hundred years. It has only just begun.” June 14–22; Messeplatz 10; 41-58/200-2020; artbasel.com/en/Basel.

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