Ausstellungsraum Klingental, Basel
Curated by Diogo Pinto
Kristian Suvtane Augland, Jonathan Bitterli, Karola Dischinger, Susan Fankhauser,
Laura Grubenmann, Dorothee Haller, Anas Kahal, Enrico Luisoni, Matilde Martins,
Anastasia Pavlou, René Pulfer & Herbert Fritsch, Nicolas Sarmiento, Mirjam Spoolder and Gina Weisskopf
Photos © Finn Curry
IT‘S ABOUT DAMNED TIME...
Be it in the private or public sector, waiting is a necessary step to everyday life – one that is calculated into yearly expenses of corporate and common design. It’s something to be managed and minimised. Good service = little to no waiting (or at least enjoyable waiting). Although some offices may prioritise it more than others, service accountability in the age of Yelp is a universal demand. Like a reception area, a 1-star review sets the tone and expectations for the interaction ahead. Under the general rule “a happy customer is a loyal customer”, hospitality is a regulated craft. But welcomeness is difficult to coerce. It’s relatively easy to spot a forced smile and even if it isn’t fake, it’s certainly not genuine. To avoid breaking the fourth wall, a degree of honesty is required in being truly hospitable.
Today, time runs fast. To not have instant gratification – to wait – means enduring the perception of “conscious time”, a time that is no longer lived through but felt. Legs turn restless, the mind paces back and forth bustling with discomfort and our body becomes burdened with an eerie sense of self-awareness. Boredom seeps in and duration becomes an undeniable certainty; we have time but we don’t want it. The hour is lived and time just feels unsynchronised as we become merely a thing that waits. Attention becomes disparately fixated, bouncing from one thing to the other in a non-directional gaze, simultaneously focused and aloof. The surroundings are no longer of ordinary function, objects acquire an uncanny quality: the hatstand appears to have a spoon for a hook, a blazer seems heavy as stone, the clock ticks counter clockwise... Their surreal particularity is revealed, cropped out from their typical context of invisibility just like the “waiter’s” own body, which now is reduced to, as it crumbles into powerlessness, an estranged object among other stranded objects.
Like a warm airplane towel, waiting rooms are designed to soothe this uneasy state. TV’s, magazines, muzak and bucolic paintings become artifices of distraction in a delicate dance between diversion and functionality. These tools help create an environment which seeks to manage a large number of people and their own unwanted experience as waiters. Architecture, design and art, together in what could be framed as an immersive installation of sorts, unite in an effort to make waiting a little bit more bearable. Ultimately, these spaces are an act of hospitality or fabricated warmth. A dramatised clash between what feels natural and what feels artificial; what seems “real” and what seems “abstract”. In other words, these are “liminal spaces” that quiver on the threshold of absurdity. They lie before the curtain of a universe of regulation, like a preface prior to plunging into the abyss of bureaucracy. In a way, they are the embodiment of protocol, of ticked boxes and filed documents; an illusion of time awkwardly literalised.
The present exhibition was organised within the context of Regionale 23, the cross-border project which yearly gathers several institutions in Basel and the trinational region (Northwestern Switzerland, South Baden and Alsace). Artists from or based in the region are eligible to apply to an open call, from which the host institutions select artists to exhibit. The process entailed an Excel sheet of 632 applicants. Each entry linking to portfolios, CVs and basic personal data. “First name / Name / Date of birth / Gender / And so on”. The curatorial tenor of PLEASE HOLD was therefore systemised, born out of an approved and stamped grid-like vision in a seemingly endless scroll of artists turned into numbers – an exhibition made in and out of bureaucracy.
Basel, November 2022