The exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Basel | Present presents works by Martha Rosler (Brooklyn, NY) and Hito Steyerl (Berlin).She puts both early and current works into a dialogue conceived jointly with the artists. Rosler and Steyerl are exhibiting together for the first time - both are also the first comprehensive show in Switzerland. In addition to numerous video works, photos, photomontages, banners and objects, on two floors of the building you will see expansive multimedia installations that confront visitors with spectacularly staged high-tech imagery.
The works of both artists address the interfaces between politics and the mass media. Both in their artistic as well as theoretical production, Rosler and Steyerl reflect the connection between our perception of social reality and the audiovisual media that are essential for their mediation.
"Germany is not an island" - this quote is not consciously assigned to anybody, but was and is used by different personalities in different contexts. It is clear, however, that the exhibition is intended to describe the multicultural location 'Germany', a place where everyone is welcome. And a place where all the arts can develop interdisciplinary. Art often seeks the confrontation with traditional perspectives and ideas and thus opens up spaces that also call for greater tolerance, openness and reflection. It needs no social consensus, no vote, but is first and foremost free. Politically, however, she is still, and socially-promoting power also resides in her, especially when she invokes her freedom and her obstinacy.
Art as radar acts as “an early alarm system,” as it were, enabling us to discover social and psychic targets in lots of time to prepare to cope with them.*1. These were the words of media theorist Marshall McLuhan, writing in Understanding Media with sharp insight in the 1960s and predicting the social revolution that new technology would bring. Half a century has now passed since McLuhan published his important work, and the Internet has permeated our society and new technological innovations like artificial intelligence are rapidly advancing. “Any technology tends to create a new human environment.”
The complex relationship between image and reality has long been one of the most important topics in art.
In this exhibition, the National Museum shows works from the last four decades by close to forty prominent artists. Using a variety of approaches, they all address the surfeit of images we see all around us.
The visual deluge that supposedly represents our lives, our times, our world. News clips, holiday snaps, flickers from the depths of the internet. A fragmented intermediate world, half illusion, half reality. Excerpts and selections. And in the midst of it all: glimpses of truth. Images with the power to change the world.