It is with a slightly heavy heart that ArtReview walks through the bar and barbecue entrance of the Liste art fair in Basel, hoping that there might be less of the bland fiddlings pushed out by European MA programmes that it remembered from last year. There are still some, but with eleven newcomer galleries and a general feeling that the fair organisers had upped their global focus, it’s a great deal more enlightening. Here’s ArtReview’s favourite five.
Lemsalu's porcelain and mixed textile wall works, Genetic Misunderstanding (2016), of which Temnikova & Kasela are showing two, should be too gross. In fact they are kind of amazing in their ugliness. The artist takes mass-produced rugs printed with the images of animals, a bear in one, a stag in another, and in one example adds a representation of himself in the collaged form of a pair of jeans and what appears to be a ceramic model of a jawbone and pair of ceramic trainers, both onto and into the surface. There’s something to be said about fashion and peacocking for attention here, something about sex and a little about madness.
Mahmoud Khaled, Do you have work tomorrow?, 2013, series of 32 screen shots of a staged conversation on an iPhone, transformed into black and white photographs; 10 × 15 cm. Courtesy Gypsum, Cairo
On the subject of bonking and insanity, try going on a gay hook-up in Egypt. In Mahmoud Khaled’s series of photographic prints, Do you have work tomorrow? (2013), each depicting part of a conversation over Grindr, he charts the attempts of two would-be lovers to meet. ‘Even here on Grinder we ending up talking about politics instead of sex as you can see’, moans one. The work is a piece of theatre really, a script about everyday desire in times of conflict.
Marlon de Azambuja, Grain Elevators, 2015, black permanent marker on book pages, 164 × 196 cm. Courtesy Instituto de Visión, Bogota
Take a monograph on the work of German photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher. Remove the pages depicting the series of Cooling Towers (1972). Obliterate the buildings neatly with a black felt tip pen. Frame and hang in the same grid that the Becher’s were known for. There’s a subtle power play at work here in the Brazilian artist’s destruction of the power stations, symbols of economic strength, and the original artwork, itself a symbol of western cultural dominance.
Kamrooz Aram, Untitled, 2015, from the series Ancient Through Modern Collage, acrylic, pencil and paper collage on linen, 51 × 40.5 cm. Courtesy Green Art Gallery, Dubai
The theme of westerncentricism and orientalism is there too in Kamrooz Aram’s collages, also using images from the pages of books. Photographs of ancient Iranian art are pasted onto linen painted with black and white stripes, the latter is a reference to the house Adolf Loos designed with jazz singer Josephine Baker in mind (unasked for and unwanted) and turns the mind to Loos’s dubious essay ‘Ornament and Crime’ (1910).
Li Ming, MEIWE, 2015, HD video 9 min 44 sec. Courtesy Antenna Space, Shanghai
On the surface Li's installation is an homage to running. The central videowork is a compilation of joggers, professional and amateur, ‘in the zone’. Yet as the nearby lightboxes indicate, it is more than that. Each depict Muhammad Ali’s two-word poem ‘Me, We’ (also used in, and as a reference to a work from 2007 by Glenn Ligon). Now we see the film as being about the individual within the pack, collective action and solo responsibility and the impossibility of one understanding the other.
Online exclusive published 15 June 2016.