Kunsthalle Basel

Alexandra Bachzetsis

24 Oct - 16 Nov 2008

Design: Julia Born
Photo: Company

24 October–16 November 2008

Opening performance; 24./25.10. Dream Season more - Reservation is recommended

Performances; 24./25.10. Dream Season more
Performance; 31.10. Gold (solo performance) more
Performance; 08.11. Show Dance more
Performance; 14.11. Handwerk more

Performances always at 8pm, ticket reservation at:
empfang@kunsthallebasel.ch or +41 206 99 00/01

The performance artist Alexandra Bachzetsis (b. 1974, Zurich) has conceived her first major institutional exhibition as a series of interconnected live acts under a descriptively fitting and deceptively simple title SHOW, pointing at the context in which her work is to be realized and presented at the Kunsthalle Basel: an exhibition venue for contemporary art.
The Kunsthalle’s main hall (Oberlichtsaal) has seen many shows, but this one is unlike any other. The space has been divided into a stage and seating area.The spacious historic gallery will be turned into a basic theatre setting, complete with an auditorium, stage, backdrop screen and lighting system. Four performances - Dream Season, Gold, Show Dance and Handwerk - will be performed during the Show. Two small adjoining rooms will be used as a backstage area for performers but will also host a permanent installation of Handwerk - a pole-dancing performance stage set with a mirrored wall.
Most of Alexandra Bachzetsis’ stage productions involve collaboration with professionals in various complementary fields: set, costume and lighting designers, graphic artists, professional and amateur dancers, filmmakers and performance artists. These collaborations involve radical rewriting of the roles assigned to various agents in the standard apparatus of the entertainment industry. The dispositif of any SHOW must be exhibited, analyzed, reconfigured and used against the powers that sustain it.
In her double role as choreographer-director and performer in pieces of her own choreography, Alexandra Bachzetsis employs various styles and languages of contemporary performing arts. Perhaps most importantly, she takes on, absorbs and transforms the codes of their representation in mass media. Her work conflates a variety of genres in high and low dance culture, melding the refined acting techniques with forms of gesture and expression extracted from everyday life. Furthermore, as a result of her acute awareness of developments in modern acting and dance, the artist decided to turn her attention towards hitherto overlooked generic types of scenic art such as musical, revue, fashion show, hip-hop dancing routines, pole-dancing or strip shows. Bachzetsis identifies their most basic and clichéd elements as building blocks to be used in her own live acts, analyzing the typical sequences of body movements, on-stage behavior rules, lighting schemes and popular soundtracks used in these scenic art forms. She then delves into the contradicting messages they consciously and unconsciously communicate. In her practice, she confronts the economy of spectacular order based predominantly on the male viewers’ fantasies. Engaging critically with forms of expression designed to trigger a complex but predictable interplay of desire and visual gratification, the artist renders performance art a role-play with endlessly postponed suspense and a tool designed to open up new possibilities for (self-) representation of femininity and subjectivity at large. There is a strong emancipatory aspect to Bachzetsis’ performances; she is interested in the latent political and aesthetic potential in popular performing arts. Working with the body, the artist ascribes meaningful characteristics to otherwise worn forms of expression.
The marginal position given to performance art in contemporary art institutions’ programs has been a much-debated subject at least since the early 1970s. It obviously has to do with the much older distinction between time-based and spatial arts. How to represent the work of a performance artist, which relies on presence, in an exhibition space, if not as documentation? Alexandra Bachzetsis’ exhibition including rehearsals for performances will be open for viewing during Kunsthalle’s regular opening hours. The exhibition’s run will be punctuated by five evening live performances, scheduled to take place weekly. The SHOW will open with the performance of Alexandra Bachzetsis’ new piece, Dream Season.

The performances schedule is as follows:
October 24, 2008, 8pm: Dream Season
October 25, 2008, 8pm: Dream Season
October 31, 2008, 8pm: Gold (solo performance)
November 8, 2008, 8pm: Show Dance
November 14, 2008, 8pm: *Handwerk

Tickets: CHF 20.-/15.- for members of the Basler Kunstverein and students
Ticket reservation: empfang@kunsthallebasel.ch or +41 206 99 00/01

Tags: Alexandra Bachzetsis