Kunsthalle Basel opens Adrian Melis The Value of Absence

Kunsthalle Basel presents Adrian Melis The Value of Absence, the first institutional solo exhibition by the Cuban artist on view 24 March–26 May 2013.

Adrian MelisAdrian Melis, The Value of Absence, exhibition poster, Kunsthalle Basel 2013, Design: Adrian Melis.

The main subjects in the works by the Havana-born artist, who has been based in Barcelona since 2010, are workers without work, both in the socialist and capitalist economy. It is they who make possible Melis’ work as an artist.

Melis’ early projects have been concerned with the working conditions and the employees’ slack attitude towards work in the state-run enterprises in Cuba. A lack of motivation and indifference towards work tasks are common symptoms indicating the lack or loss of identification with a given political and economic system. Normally, such identification depends on the personal commitment of an individual, involving a belief in or acceptance of the ideology supporting that system. The general non-productivity, which is typical in many of Cuba’s factories, becomes the starting point for Melis’ observations, leading to his involvement in the “co-production” of paradoxical situations and activities that tap into the workers’ regular daily routines. This part of his work involves negotiation of forms of the workers’ participation as performers or providers of specific services or products. In exhibitions, Melis shows the results of his investigation of labour as videos, photographs, or installations. Various forms of complicity and clandestine alliance amongst the workers – at times also involving the artist – play an important part in these projects in which manifestations of nonconformity occur as soft opposition to administrative, institutional opportunism.

Adrian Melis, (born 1985 in Havanna, Cuba) lives and works in Barcelona, Spain. From 2005-2010 he studied at the Instituto de Arte (I.S.A.) in Cuba and graduated with the Graduadto de la Catedra de Arte Conducta with Tania Bruguera in 2009. In 2012 Adrian Melis was awarded with the GAC Award presented in the Museu d’Art Contemporani for the best exhibition of a young artist. www.kunsthallebasel.ch