If it’s not meant to last, then it’s Performance

Basel | ArtRegion: Basel - Oberrhein

Vitrine Gallery

If it’s not meant to last, then it’s Performance

23. Februar – 19. Mai 2019

VITRINE is delighted to present an explorative group exhibition that brings together work that is ephemeral, time-sensitive or durational. Featuring Tim Etchells, Paul Hage Boutros, Sophie Jung, Clare Kenny, Hannah Lees, Wil Murray, and Rafal Zajko, this exhibition examines a diverse group of works through the lens of performance.

As our lives become intertwined with digital media, we increasingly value transient experiences over permanent fixtures. Yet today’s art market continues to be driven by the need for permanence – whether guided by the conventions of museum conservation or the assessment of art‘s value for investment and future ‘resale’.

One art form that sits on the periphery of this system is performance. There have been many attempts to bring performance into the contemporary art market, but questions around its acquisition typically find themselves in tension with its ephemerality, whilst artists working predominantly in performance often struggle to find a place in the typical gallery model.

If it’s not meant to last, then it’s Performance brings together a group of works that utilise a broad range of materials and processes – from ice, water, and wax to light, words, and heat. Each evolves, decays, or develops over time. As such, each could be considered a performance: a transient experience designed to exist in a particular moment. This exhibition contemplates each of these works in this light and explores how plans for their legacy (or potential acquisition) tap into the current conversation around collecting live art.

Since VITRINE, Basel is situated in the public square and viewable 24 hours a day, the changing nature of each of these works can be constantly observed, giving those who walk by the gallery every day a more intimate knowledge of these pieces than those who visit the exhibition only once. The final days of the show might present a very different series of works than those seen at the opening: water pooled on the ground, wax melted, and plaster dyed.

When examining these evolving works, the curator raises an important question to the viewer, collector, and art market: rather than fitting performance into the current system, shouldn’t we be asking how performance could lead us towards a new model for buying, owning, and selling artwork? Each work approaches this question in a unique way; each initiates a discussion between artist and collector about value and longevity. In bringing these works together, If it’s not meant to last, then it’s Performance aims to shift our gaze towards a new art market ecology.



Vitrine Gallery
Vogesenplatz 15
4056 Basel