The Ground Is Gone

Ivana Bašić

7/6 - 24/7 2018

November Gallery is pleased to present The Ground Is Gone, first Belgrade solo exhibition of the work of Ivana Basic. Since Basic moved to New York in 2010 her work gained international recognition by some of the most prominent curators and institutions of contemporary art for its singular approach to figuration, materials and complex processes she utilizes in her production.

From piece SOMA, shown in seminal exhibition Dreamlands curated by Chrissie Illes in Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and now in the permanent collection of the Museum, to the latest piece Belay my light, the ground is gone, specially commissioned by the renowned curator Nicolas Bourriaud for exhibition Crash Test: Molecular Revolution at La Panacee Center for Contemporary Art in Montpellier, this show offers insight into the plurality of levels in which through her practice Ivana Basic examines conditions and limits of the matter, its temporality, its plasticity and its capacity for becoming.

In Basic’s sculptural work substance goes from moldable wax to the hardest metal, from the density of marble to its finest particles. Selected works on display trace artist’s study of both the experiential and atmospheric aspects of the body as it dwindles and subsists in its fringe states. Basic embodies figures with a force within them that tries to break free, bruising their fragile and hollow forms which are at once bodies and habitats. Sculpted in clay, molded in silicone and casted in wax, with skin and cuts painted in oil paint these forms are lifted by a breath – trapped in the glass, or prosthesis  – in steel.

Central piece Belay my light, the ground is gone expands upon the premise of dust as the absolute reduction of the world, a substance in which the world is anonymously contained, since the origin of each particle is unknowable. Similarly, the body’s reduction to dust renders it its composite, suggesting that the unknowable nature of the universe is conditioned upon the unknowable nature of the body and its alien alloy. Observing material synchronicities between the stone and the post mortem matter Basic addresses an infinite cycle of the body under pressure as it transitions from the states of being and porosity to pure density, stone, and ultimately a return to nameless fine matter.

The figure on display is missing its core as the void in the stomach suggest. Its core is the stone it is holding in its lap gently caressing it with the crown of its head. Simultaneous feelings of tenderness and mourning in the figure suggest process of acceptance that this stone is the inevitable future as the unstoppable process of the transformation of matter into this dense substance and then into dust is already on its way. While the steel prosthetics are reinforcing the weak legs which are being crushed under the weight of the stone and the truth it carries, the glass vessel on the ground represents the lungs showing the slow transition of breath into dust which occurs with every exhale.

As visitors walk through the gallery space they can feel Basic’s breath upon their face as it is trapped, released and slowly suffocated in the crumpled glass vessels on the walls in what is an ongoing life-long piece titled Breath seeps through her tightly closed mouth.

The piece Stay inside or perish has a force within it that tries to break free. Reminiscent of ballet postures, elegantly arched form is in a constant attempt to get up yet it keeps falling back under its own weight, as its fragile glass legs are too weak for to carry it. The subtle bruising on the piece suggest the attempt of leaving the body – escaping it, and the failure to do so in which one hits upon the boundary of the skin and causes bruising alluding back to the title of the piece “Stay inside or perish”  – there is no outside to escape to.

The piece SOMA in the back room is part of a larger project in which artist has built a digital avatar made out of scans of her own skin, and then released it online to be bought and used for any purpose. The video piece on view is a performance of the digital body which counters the sculptural work in the show and the limits of materiality it addresses, as SOMA allows for the vision of the limitless, boundless and eternal body which will persist despite the matter.

Specificity of the materials Basic employs in her work addresses both tactile and non tactile substances. Among elements such as wax, glass, stainless steel, alabaster and oil paint her material lists also include elements such as weight, pressure, breath, torque and rigidity. Even though non material these substances are fully present and tangible in the bodies which seems to breathe, leaving dust behind  —as in an infinite cycle in which residues are the mark of an acting life.

Residing in the liminal space between life and death Basic’s sculptural forms are embodying the cyclical stages of becoming, being, declining, and ceasing to be and synchronously they are testing the boundaries of “human minimality” while examining what constitutes the notion of “wholeness”. For the viewer, Basic’s work evokes both the repulsion and the beauty inherent to the pain and fragility of corporeality. Through the duality of her practice Basic negotiates the complex conditions of mortality and speculates on scenarios beyond death and singularity.