Museum fur Gegenwartskunst Basel presents Robert Gober exhibition

Museum fur Gegenwartskunst Basel presents Robert Gober an exhibition of Works from the Emanuel Hoffmann-Foundation and the Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel, on view October 6, 2012–February 10, 2013.

Robert Gober, “Split Wall with Drains,” 1994–95 (detail). Photo: Studio Robert Gober

In 1994–95, Robert Gober conceived the installation Split Wall with Drains, specifically for the ground floor hall at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst (MGK). After his solo exhibition at the museum, curated by Theodora Vischer, the work was purchased for the Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel in 1995. Due to the installation’s complexity, however, there has not been an opportunity to present it to the public in quite some time. Working closely again with Robert Gober and his studio, we were now able to fulfill a long-time wish and reconstruct the spectacular installation at its original site.

Split Wall with Drains stands at the center of this show, which focuses on the extensive holdings of Robert Gober’s works in the Emanuel Hoffmann-Foundation’s collection; it also features works from the Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel and a private collection. After the major survey exhibition held at Schaulager in 2007, the new show presents objects, installations, drawings, and replicas of objects from the domestic sphere such as washbasins, fireplaces, and drains, as well as fragmentary body parts bearing psychological, political, and religious connotations. As in the first exhibition of Gober’s work in Basel in 1995–96, the primary site of this eminent oeuvre is the ground-floor hall, which is bisected by a diagonal wall. Two identical doorways serve as entrances and exits at once, yet the partition is hardly more than a two-dimensional façade: Contrary to appearances, it does not enclose a room, but merely creates opportunities for passage. The sound of rushing water emerges from drains embedded in the floor on both sides of the wall. They are bronze casts coated with a dark patina and resemble ordinary New York City street-gutter drainage grates.

The motif of the drain to which Gober returns here has also appeared in earlier works: Starting in 1989, Gober designed a number of simple but individual plugholes, had them cast in pewter, and then installed them directly in the walls of exhibition spaces (Drains). The drain marks the boundary between light and darkness, between what is visible and what is concealed, between inside and outside.

Not only with its overwhelmingly visual quality, Split Wall with Drains represents a highlight of Gober’s sculptural oeuvre; it is also singular in that it was conceived for the unique situation at the MGK, which is itself traversed by a brook, and will thus remain permanently rooted in our house.

Support for the exhibition comes from the “Fonds für künstlerische Aktivitäten im Museum für Gegenwartskunst der Emanuel Hoffmann-Stiftung und der Christoph Merian Stiftung.”

For the duration of the exhibition, Robert Gober’s permanent installation at Schaulager, Untitled, 1995-1997, is open to the public by telephone reservation. Additionally, the installation will be discussed publicly one Sunday each month at 1pm. Please contact the Schaulager’s art education department at [email protected], T 061 335 32 26.

Museum für Gegenwartskunst,
Kunstmuseum Basel
mit Emanuel Hoffmann-Stiftung
St. Alban-Rheinweg 60
CH-4010 Basel
Hours: Tue–Sun, 11–6pm
T 0041 (0) 61 206 62 62
F 0041 (0) 61 206 62 53