Andrei Monastirsky, Claude Gaçon, Eric Hattan, Markus Buser, Monika Sosnowska, Silke Wagner, Stephen Prina, Yto Barrada

in capital letters

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Yto Barrada (born 1971, Paris), Claude Gaçon (born 1956, Basel), and Markus Buser (born 1943, Basel), Eric Hattan (born 1955, Basel), Andrei Monastirsky (born 1949, Russia), Stephen Prina (born 1955, Los Angeles), Monika Sosnowska (born 1972, Poland), Silke Wagner (born 1968, Germany)

Taking a distanced, critical look at oneself, taking oneself seriously as an artistic theme without succumbing to smugness: in capital letters unites eight artists of different generations and origins, whose works reflect on the Kunsthalle Basel as an institution, its location, its activities and its aura. The impending refurbishment of the building offers an appropriate occasion to look back on the eventful history of one of the oldest Kunstvereine or art associations. What can its history teach us for the future?

In addition to the artists’ various perspectives, the institution itself will throw some light on both its location and its activities, rendering the history of the institution and its links and networks visible by presenting works from the collection of the Kunstverein Basel. Questions will also be raised as to the future handling of its stocks.

Through the foundation of the Kunstverein Basel (Basel art association) in 1839 and the construction of the Kunsthalle in 1869, the association played an influential role in promoting a greater acceptance of contemporary art and in the course of time assumed the function of a model for many of the exhibition venues that were established at a later date. Today, the art associations, and thus also the Kunsthalle Basel, are confronted with new questions and problems that arise in the face of the ever more densely populated museum landscape. The era of the classical typology – here Kunsthalle, there Kunstmuseum or project room – is long over for Basel in particular. The opening of the Museum für Gegenwartskunst was followed by that of the Fondation Beyeler; then came the Musée Jean Tinguely and next year the Schaulager by the Emanuel Hoffmann Stiftung will join the group. Furthermore Basel is also the home of numerous smaller exhibition venues focusing their efforts on contemporary art.

Consequently, contemporary art is becoming established faster today than ever before and is even gaining more direct access to museums. Moreover, contemporary art can also be found more often in the art collections of open-minded and dynamic companies and collectors. Does this mean the end of the traditional role of the Kunstverein? In view of this dynamic development, the Kunsthalle sees itself called upon to approach new tasks, one of which is to reflect on the site in which, and conditions under which contemporary art is generated.

This exhibition is curated by Peter Pakesch and Christina Végh. The accompanying catalogue in German and English is published by Schwabe Verlag.