Adriana Lara


Kunsthalle Basel is proud to present the first solo exhibition in Switzerland by Adriana Lara. Born in 1978 in Mexico, the artist lives and works in Mexico-City.

At the center of S.S.O.R., a new exhibition by Adriana Lara at the Kunsthalle Basel, there is an installation in the Oberlichtsaal entitled Symbolic Surface of Revolution(2012). The concept contained in the title, surface of revolution, is a mathematical term that describes an irregular, round surface that is produced when a curve rotates in Euclidean space around a straight line. This mathematical idea underlies Adriana Lara`s S.S.O.R., Symbolic Surface of Revolution (2012). In the main exhibition space we can see a continuous line of dominos captured in the process of falling printed on 68 uniform white canvases hung around the four walls of the room, an installation related to the so-called “domino effect”. In mathematics, the term “domino effect” is used, to illustrate the concept of ordinal numbers as part of set theory, a theory developed by the German mathematician Georg Ferdinand Ludwig Philipp Cantor (1845-1918). The concept is akin to mathematical induction, a method in which one assumes a statement to be true for the n-th number and proves that the statement also holds true for the n+1 number. Translated into the model of dominos, provided the statement holds true for the 1st number, in a single stroke, one has proved the statement holds true for all ordinal numbers as the dominos fall.

There is also a political theory that takes its name from the same concept. During the Cold War, the United States propagated the belief that communism would spread from country to country in the form of a domino effect, and set out to stop the totalitarian Communist menace. In 1968, the Winter Olympics took place in Grenoble, France. Not far, in Paris, a series of student strikes grew into the famous protests. In turn, the summer Olympics were programmed to take place in Mexico. Inspired by the French students a series of protests in Mexico City took place and was tragically stopped by the government during the Tlatelolco massacre ten days before the games started. In a similar way, a sequence of political movements has been triggered after the Arab Spring in 2011 until today.

Perhaps the metaphor of induction might be too weak for the dynamics of revolutions, and together with the domino effect, one should think of a more suitable form of chain reactions in which exponential growth is observed.

Another work in the exhibition, entitled 1 (one) from the series Numbers (Disambiguation) (2007), consists of a canvas that is not, as usual, mounted on a rectangular or square frame, but tightly stretched on a 2-meter-tall cylinder. The light gray chessboard pattern printed on the canvas is borrowed from Adobe Photoshop’s background, its so-called “canvas.” Applied onto the surface of a cylinder, this “canvas on canvas” becomes a three-dimensional sculpture whose wordy title can be read as an ironic allusion to the frequently similarly rigid and deadpan descriptive titles of the works of conceptual art. However, the fact that the title contains the word “Disambiguation” (the clarification of a concept) presents a contrast with the object, which – even though the addendum Disambiguation promises clarification – resists any clear-cut categorization.

Just as the titles of the works are fraught with oblique suggestions and connotations, the objects on display in the exhibition are likewise to be viewed as references, symbols and tokens in a game of expectations and associations, with the purpose not only of reflection but also the search of new paradigms. Lara gives us a hint to her show when she underlines the process of wrapping around the canvas, which is reminiscent of the surface of revolution. In fact, the cylinder is the only intrinsically flat surface of revolution. The gesture of wrapping, which is repeated in the line of dominos, connects the idea of infinity seen in ordinals and the concept of revolution as most clearly seen in the shape of the circle: an infinite line of time wrapping around the hand of a finite circular clock.

Endowed with individually distinct amounts of previous knowledge as well as diverse degrees of will and capacity to respond to art works, the visitors are there to fill in the blanks in Adriana Lara’s conceptual riddles. The suggestions Lara inscribes into her works are latent and vague. They exist in a condition of suspense, as announced in the concept of symbolic surfaces. This contradiction between the flatness of surface and the supposed depth of symbol can be pointing towards the infinite varieties and definitions of art – at one end of the spectrum, art as surface, superficial decoration or l’art pour l’art, and at the other, art containing a profound symbolic or political dimension.

The exhibition is made possible by the generous support of artEDU Stiftung.

Adriana Lara (*1978, Mexico City; lives and works in Mexico City. From 1999 until 2002, she studied photography at the Escuela Activa de Fotografia, Mexico City with an interception of a one-year course in art and design at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, from 2000 until 2001. In 2002/03, she participated at the residency programme Le Pavillon of the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, and in 2004/05 she received the scholarship Jovenes Creadores of FONCA, Mexico.

Solo exhibitions (selection): Scryyns and Interesting Theories, Air de Paris, Paris (2011); salt 1: Adri-ana Lara, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City (2010); Screens, frame frieze, London (2010); Artificial, Artpace, San Antonio (2009); Art Perform, Art Basel Miami, Miami (2008); Gaga Arte Con-temporaneo, Mexico City (2008); Galería Comercial, San Juan, Puerto Rico (2007); A Problem has oc-cured, Air de Paris, Paris (2007). Grroup exhibitions (selection): documenta (13), Kassel (2012); How to Work und How to Work (More for) Less, Kunsthalle Basel (2011); CGEM: Notes about Emancipa-tion, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Castilla, Leon (2010); The flowers, Coco Vienna, Wien (2010); Never very far apart, Redcat, Los Angeles (2010); Panamericana, Kurimanzutto, Mexico City (2010); The Generational: Younger than Jesus, New Museum, New York (2009); Galeria Sentimental, Tensta Konstall, Stockolm (2008); The Unruly History of Readymade, Colección Jumex, Ecatepec (2008); Pawn Shop, E-flux, New York (2007); La Otra, Perros Negros, Bogotá (2007); The Space Between, Drorit Gur-Arie, Petach-Tikva Museum, Israel (2007); Una noche en el museo o lo que vio Betty Boop, Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2007); LA MAMAIN ET LA PUTAIN, Air de Paris, Paris (2006); Cuarteto de Fantasía, Museo Experimental «EL ECO», Mexico City (2006); Nuevos RIcos, Prometeo Associazione Culturale per l’Arte Contemporanea, Lucca, Italien (2004); Localismos, Perros Negros. Mexico City (2004); GNS, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2003); Incomprehension, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2003); Arte, Vestido y Sustento, Xavier Rodriguez, Museo Ex-Teresa, Mexico City (2002).