Thursday, December 24, 2020

Raphael Hefti at Kunsthalle Basel

There are risks. In the process of his still young career, the artist has subjected himself to extreme heights and endured punishing heat, he once accidentally blew up his car (and as a result was under investigation for years by an anti-terrorism unit), and his hair temporarily fell out due to the substances he was using to produce his early photograms. For a solo show in 2013, he piled more than 25 tons of sand in his then-gallerist’s tiny London space and set in motion a chain reaction that sent an unstoppable flow of 1,600° Celsius molten steel down sand channels in an act that was partly sculptural and partly performative. No one was hurt and the gallery floors held up, but that these processes remained benign could not have been predicted with certainty. To make his art, and importantly also, to show his art, Hefti probes the limits of the possible, for himself as much as for the institutions who exhibit his projects. (This one being no exception: The weight of some of his works challenges the structural limitations of the historic Kunsthalle Basel building, the electricity coursing through other pieces court a high voltage risk.) 

This would make a great character in a book. Post-minimalism, but bigger. Turned to 11. Those Serras that killed people, awesome. Dealers out of business. The sum of all lines snorted. Oh yeah that's the stuff.