Artnet | The 10 Most Extraordinary Artworks at Art Basel Unlimited 2017
June 13, 2017
Lévy Gorvy is pleased to participate in Art Basel Unlimited with three focused projects by artists in the gallery’s program: Enrico Castellani’s immersive environment Spazio Ambiente (1970), Adrian Piper’s iconic Conceptual artwork Food for the Spirit (1971), and Peter Regli’s monumental installation Reality Hacking No. 313 (2014).
In 1966, Enrico Castellani was invited to fill a solo room at the Venice Biennale; he responded by creating an installation of canvases that feature an extreme perspective but stop short of a vanishing point, directing viewers’ gazes beyond the canvases’ edges. The problem posed by this installation—how the artist might disrupt viewers’ experiences of architecture, light, and space to create a totally immersive environment—troubled Castellani for several years. Spazio ambiente (1970), which originates from the same 1967 series as the Venice Biennale installation and is a pivotal highlight in the artist’s career, presents the full realization of these concerns. In this room-sized installation, shaped canvases surround the viewer alternating with large stretched arches in the corners of the installation. Presented here in collaboration with Magazzino, this landmark work was first created for the landmark 1970 exhibition Vitalità del negativo nell’arte italiana, 1960/70 (Vitality of the Negative in Italian Art, 1960/70) at Rome’s Palazzo delle Esposizioni.
In the summer of 1971 Adrian Piper performed Food for the Spirit in her New York loft. She sequestered herself and spent her days reading Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (1781/87), doing yoga, reading, writing, and fasting. Her immersion in the Critique was so intense that at times she sensed she might be disappearing. To counteract this perception, she periodically photographed herself standing in front of a mirror while chanting excerpts of the text that made her question her material existence. Food for the Spirit is a pivotal work in the history of Conceptual art. Much of Piper's work from this period employed formats and strategies of Conceptual art while engaging social and gender disparities that were all but excluded from that discourse. Piper projected a sense of self onto the rational and serial forms innovated by the movement, constituting a radical break with its characteristic detachment. Her repeated self-confrontation marks an effort to ground her understanding of Kantian transcendence in personal experience, while also introducing a glimmer of identity politics into the impersonal matrix of first-generation Conceptual art.
Peter Regli’s ongoing Reality Hacking series poses questions about the world around us by placing artworks in unexpected settings, interrupting everyday routines with moments of surprise and discovery. Regli often probes the relationship between craftsmanship and kitsch, with carved wood and marble assuming non-traditional forms and unexpected relations to space. Resisting a specific style, medium, or material, Regli explores the poetics of banality and the sublimity of quotidian objects. Reality Hacking No. 313 (2014) is one work comprised of five monumental pillars—three columns, a bear, and a phallus—carved from wood with a chainsaw. The work’s immense scale and wry juxtapositions invite reconsiderations of each form’s specific history and psychic power (of architecture, nature, and masculinity, respectively). The columns tower over passersby; both in and out of place, they designate their site with a sense of absurd sanctitude, hacking the visual expectations of each viewer.
June 13, 2017