Galerie Gisèle Linder
Galerie Gisèle Linder GmbH
Elisabethenstrasse 54
CH-4051 Basel
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Renate Buser Past | Future | Present
8 June to 16 July 2022

It was by way of studying painting that Renate Buser arrived at analogue photography and using photographic images to direct viewers’ attention to existing architecture – constructed worlds. Buser’s photos are shot with a large-format camera on a tripod, and they display an objective aesthetic. From the beginning, she has shown most of them on or in the spaces where they were created. The large-format camera is a classic photographic device, whose lens offers unsurpassed possibilities in terms of picture quality and the correction of distortions. Asked about the anachronistic aspect of this process, she answered: “I continuously increased the size of the camera format until I had arrived at the large-format camera. This is a camera that I still carry and which gives me a great ability to construct the image. I was never interested in doing work like this on a computer. The experience in the space, in the real space, is important to me. That is where the ideas first come to me. Architecture is a big field of inspiration that can be re-experienced by means of the photos. Experiencing the space in motion is what matters to me. There is an interplay between what is really there and that which is photographed” (Conversation between Philip Ursprung and Renate Buser, 29 August 2007, in a publication in connection with the exhibition “slightly urban”, Kunsthaus Baselland, 2007).

Buser’s way of working follows a method that is explored and tested with each project. Knowledge about general logics, internal logics and dealing with systems and procedures are essential to her planning process and results. Their structure and infrastructure consist of cameras, journeys to destinations as far as Rajasthan and Gujarat, and a studio with its own darkroom, an archive, storerooms, contacts and a constant engagement with built spaces, modular building systems and architecture from different periods and cultures.

The current exhibition presents a cross section of her work in the rooms of the gallery with whom she has been working since 2005. Through the floor-to-ceiling windows, its recently renovated interior now stands in relationship with De Wette Park and the main thoroughfares in the area immediately surrounding the Schweizer Bahnhof. The back of the property, behind a courtyard with a garden, borders on a development in the quarter. This exhibition is being held at a time when projects like the Roche Building 74 or the Rialto indoor swimming pool complex enable us to study the arguments being used to tear down, renovate, convert and remove the city’s post-1950 architectural heritage.

The selection of works includes pieces ranging from the early 2000s to two projects in Basel and Olten, whose realisation and opening ceremonies are planned for autumn of this year and 2023, as well as an edition created in connection with the exhibition. Conceptually the artist deliberately disregards the distinction between fine and applied art while remaining entirely aware that this categorisation is fundamental in the context of calls for submissions as well as their acceptance and realisation – and that this distinction’s effects extend to how works are presented. In this way, she integrates a tendency to affirmatively create a visually comprehensible manner of accessing art and architecture as a shared cultural heritage.

Photographs printed on weatherproof materials Since the late 1990s Buser has been developing concepts for and producing photographs of buildings’ interiors and architectural elements printed on weatherproof plastic tarpaulins and ultramesh banner material: they are temporarily attached to walls and facades in the context of site-specific photographic interventions. To the extent it is logistically feasible, she has then had the works preserved and stored. When the decision was made to check and inventory the condition of the monumental textiles, Buser planned this procedure for consolidating a portion of the archive in terms of a project connected with the strategy for documenting it on film. She carried out this “art handling” together with a small team over the course of several days. The tarpaulin for her installation in the Baroque church in Bellelay displays the printed motif of the wrought-iron rood screen that divides the church’s apse from its sanctuary. It now covers half of a concrete wall in the courtyard behind the gallery: “An important decision for the church’s interior was to work with the space and not against its structure. The placement of the decorative grating in the screen’s opening and its being tipped slightly into the space did not come until later in the planning process. Here again, what interests me is a break with symmetry, with the alternative of whether we would like to continue on to the left or right of this screen. I was also conscious of the fact that I had to work with an entirely artificial material here. That is why I use conventional lorry covers instead of delicate textiles as the supports for my images” (Conversation between Renate Buser and Hans Rudolf Reust in Bellelay Abbey Church, 10 June 2014, in: “Renate Buser: Barock”, published in connection with the exhibition at the Fondation de l’Abbatiale de Bellelay, 2014).