Interrogative Design: Selected Works of Krzysztof Wodiczko – The Kunstmuseum Basel Projection
For the duration of the Interrogative Design exhibition, we will be providing expanded online content to give viewers a deeper access to selected projects. Materials for this exhibit provided by the artist, with unique edits specially produced for this project by GSD Exhibitions.
The Kunstmuseum Basel Projection, “Sans-Papiers”, 2006, Basel, Switzerland
• St. Alban-Graben 16, 4051 Basel, Switzerland
• Run Dates: February 23–25, 2006
• Restaged: September 17–20, 2020
Located in the city center, south of the River Rhine, the Kunstmuseum Basel sits along the main artery of St. Alban-Graben, its facade visible from the Wettsteinbrücke Bridge. In this projection on the building of Basel’s prestigious Kunstmuseum, the artist gave a voice to Switzerland’s illegal immigrants, commonly known in French as the sans-papiers [people without papers]. Living in the gray zone and usually invisible, they were now made visible in the very heart of the city’s public space. The moving image projected on the upper part of the building’s facade looked as though four immigrants were sitting on the roof, talking to each other and singing in their native tongues. The viewer could see only their dangling legs and gesticulating hands, while the faces and figures remained invisible. In a casual conversation, two men and two women talked about their lives and experiences as illegal immigrants. Out of a total of six hours of footage, the artist selected a seven-minute recording, presented as a loop.
The original projection was organized in conjunction with the exhibition Flashback: Revisiting the Art of the 1980s in Kunstmuseum Basel, curated by Philipp Kaiser and with the assistance of Sans-Papiers, an organization working with illegal immigrants. This is the first of Wodiczko’s public projections to be restaged. From September 17 through 20, 2020, it was projected again as part of The Possible is Monstrous: Works in public space, which took place in the public space between Basel (BS) and Münchenstein (BL) with the participation of 11 artists. As an interinstitutional collaboration, the project was curated by four curators from different institutions in Basel. The project was generously sup-ported by Swisslos-Fonds Basel-Stadt and Swisslos-Fonds Basel-Landschaft, with organizational support from Art Basel. The project was curated by Elena Filipovic (Kunsthalle Basel), Ines Goldbach (Kunsthaus Baselland), Daniel Kurjaković (Kunstmuseum Basel), and Samuel Leuenberger (SALTS).
For this project, the Kunstmuseum restaged the original Sans-Papiers by Wodiczko exactly as it ran in 2006. This act of restaging an ephemeral artistic intervention in public space challenges us as audience by asking: What has happened to the original participants, and have the social conditions for the ‘sans-papiers’ been resolved?