Rossella Biscotti

20 April – 16 July 2018

Opening: Thursday 19 April, 6.30 pm

The City

For her solo presentation at the Kunsthaus Baselland, Rossella Biscotti premiers her five-channel video installation The City, 2018, on her extensive research and filming of the Çatalhöyük archaeological site, Konya, Turkey. Biscotti investigates the relationship between the neolithic community that built the earliest urban centre known to date and the archeological community that has been unearthing it over the past twenty-five years. This is Biscotti’s first solo exhibition in Switzerland.

Does the study of ancient artefacts and cultures provide a mirror with which we can consider the subjective values held by researchers in their own society? Biscotti worked closely with Ian Hodder, leader of the Çatalhöyük Research Project and Professor of Social Anthropology at Stanford University, and his international team, filming during the 2015 and 2016 excavation seasons. Since 1993, Hodder, one of the key thinkers of the post-processual school, has put his ideas to the test at Çatalhöyük. These include decentralised project management teams, self-reflective and diaristic reporting, co-authorship and data sharing and an understanding of the site as a living community uniting both professional agents and local actors. When on site, Biscotti recorded how these methods were activated in order to study an ancient people whose own community underwent various radical socio-economic changes.

Inhabited for a period of almost 2,000 years (circa 7500 to 5700 BC), Çatalhöyük has eighteen layers of occupation and was once home to a “proto-city” of nearly 10,000 people centred on a honeycomb maze-like complex of shared buildings that grew both out of and on top of each other. The film looks in particular at these urban forms in which distinctions between public and private were rather fluid, while also investigating the site’s complex burial rituals in which the dead were interred amongst the living. Likewise, evidence of the division of labour, between what was produced where and by whom on the site, seems to suggest a society with little to no social or gender stratification. These organisational principles, which show how another, possibly more liberated form of society functioned, are contrasted with the dig’s modern context in order to consider how our own social constructions have also advanced.

The 2016 season stopped abruptly due to the attempted military coup d’état in Turkey. The season would be the last of Ian Hodder’s twenty-five-year project. Rossella Biscotti was then on the first day of her second year’s filming and she adjusted her script to record the bureaucracy of closing the site, the meetings, the departure of the community and the empty landscape that remained.

In her multi-media practice, cutting across filmmaking, performance and sculpture, Biscotti explores and reconstructs obscured moments from recent times, often against a backdrop of state institutions. The site of investigation tends to leave its mark on her sculptures and installations as she composes new stories from personal encounters and oral interrogations. By examining the relevance of the recovered material from a contemporary perspective, Biscotti sensitively weaves a link with the present.

Rossella Biscotti was born in 1978 in Molfetta, Italy. For the past decade she has been living and working between the Netherlands and her research sites. Artists-in-Berlin Programme, DAAD, Berlin (2018).

Selected Solo Exhibitions: V-A-C Foundation at Gulag Museum, Moscow (2016), Museion, Bozen (2015), Haus Lange and Haus Esters, Krefeld, WIELS, Brussels and Sculpture Center, New York (2014) e-flux, New York and Secession, Vienna (2013), and CAC, Vilnius (2012).

Selected group exhibitions: Contour Biennial 8, Mechelen, Moderna Museet, Stockholm and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2017), Swiss Institute in New York and Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2016), Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2015), ICA London (2014), MAXXI, Rome, Witte de With, Rotterdam and Museu Serralves, Porto (2010).

Biscotti has taken part in major international exhibitions including the 55th Venice Biennale and the 13th Istanbul Biennale (2013), dOCUMENTA 13 (2012) and Manifesta 9 (2012).

The exhibition is kindly supported by the Mondriaan Fund. The City is produced in cooperation with Protocinema, Istanbul.

Rossella Biscotti is represented by Wilfried Lentz Gallery, Rotterdam and mor charpentier, Paris. 


Rossella Biscotti, The City (still), 2015/2018