Serge Hasenböhler: Storehouse
22 January – 12 March 2016
In the new series Fundus (Storehouse), Serge Hasenböhler continues to expand upon his fascination with the still life. The photographs exhibited here present the intrinsically unremarkable and insignificant things that the artist finds on his way to his studio in Basel’s Dreispitzareal. Hasenböhler collects these like precious “finds”, and in his studio they are made to appear in a new role on a table covered with black cloth. Sometimes it is an isolated object, such as a wooden beam, that is subjected to the photographer’s precise scrutiny (fund 09 and fund 10). Here particular attention is devoted to the sensual materiality of the surface. Hasenböhler explores its sculptural and structural irregularities through a number of macro photos, which he subsequently uses his computer to seamlessly join into objects. Building projects are currently being carried out in the Dreispitzareal; construction materials like wood or fillers serve a functional purpose and are no longer visible in the completed architecture. In Hasenböhler’s photographs, these materials are not only given a stage to present themselves in an optimal light: in the process of their photographic reproduction and montage, they are also transformed into artefacts. Rid of their former function, they look like precious objects from another world (fund 20).
And the balloons? They are also objets trouvés, left behind after being used for play and pleasure. Despite their limp shell, in Hasenböhler’s photos they elegantly hold a used piece of wood (fund 14) or come to rest upon it as though it were a dignified pedestal, shortly before the last bit of air escapes from them (fund 22). The balloons preserve traces of humanity: they were held by hands or blown up with breaths of air, and they are able to present us with an aura of the absent and the transient. The balloon becomes a vanitas motif and, with the lightness of the ordinary, it shows that human beings have no power over life. The conservation of things is one way of attempting to counteract the transience of the world. Hasenböhler’s studio resembles a cabinet of curiosities in which the collected balloons and pieces of wood find their final resting place in the photographic image. During the artistic process of becoming an image they are given a second life: they hover like still-undiscovered planets or, with wrinkles and navel, they suggest an amorphous body in the process of its formation (fund 18).
Barbara van der Meulen
Translation : Michael Wetzel