The Basel-based artist Philipp Gasser (born 1958 in Chur) presents his first institutional solo exhibition in Kunsthaus Baselland. Since 2001 the artist has been teaching at the HGK FHNW (College of Design and Art, University of North-West Switzerland) in the department of Digital Media. Philipp Gasser had his art education in Basel and participated numerous times in video festivals and exhibitions at home and abroad. His works were seen, inter alia, at the exhibition Reprocessing Reality in Nyon (2005) and New York (2006) or at Kunstverein Freiburg (2002). Gasser also received numerous students’ and scholars’ grants for travel and stay abroad. His exhibition in Kunsthaus Baselland is titled, Celestial Bliss, which could be either interpreted as “blessings from heaven”, “heavenly joy or happiness” or simply as “luck that originates in the firmament”. The title evokes a potential prevailing mood and a substantial red thread which is carried through the exhibition.
On entering the exhibition the first glance is directed at a poster assembled from individual colour prints. Its style is reminiscent of the 1970s and visits to the disco. The motif originates in various preview photos of a stock photo archive. The image is decorated with light dots that can either be assigned to the world of disco or to the world of stars.
The 2-channel video work Kommen und Gehen (Come and Go) (2010) presents a number of figures that seem to emerge from the wall and then disappear into it again. The artist gives the figures the features of friends and acquaintances. The characters enter the room from the shadows, then face the viewer for a short while or approach him/her. The communication thus created unifies the work and the recipient, an attraction that the viewer cannot easily get away from.
7 days (rendering the world), (2010) is another video installation designed for the exhibition. In the 3D world, ‘to render’ describes the procedure by which surfaces get a particular texture, like that of a tropical wood or a veined granite stone. A material is virtually administered digitally onto a specific object. “Once the materials are allocated to the relevant objects, it is time to render the scene — this means the objects virtually created in the three-dimensional space are reckoned into an image, where shadow and light can create a perfect reality”, the artist describes his approach. Using this technology as an inspiration, Philipp Gasser designs an animated, digital plot line that, projected onto a Styrofoam ball, hints at the creation of the world. The light dots dispersed by a disco ball are followed by a kind of Big Bang. It brings forth the moon and the planets which in turn form the continents from the various parts of the world, and finally mutate into a disco world.
The work 1000 Teilchen (1000 particles) (2010) also draws on celestial bodies and on the idea of their readability and interpretation. Constellations projected onto fabric panels remind one of scripts and supernatural messages that we often describe as magical.
In a series of twelve pen and ink drawings Das Vermögen der Unendlichkeit (The capacity of infinity) the artist follows the ideas of the things that have taken place under the stars, or still take place. Thereby he draws on a pool of images which originates from his personal photo archive, newspapers and magazines, and also from books. Strange scenes from all over the world, for instance, two men in China who try to bite each other’s ears — in a popular game there – encounter world news or scenes from daily life. One drawing for instance thematises a D-day memorial day in Brittany, attended by the heads of state Sarkozy, Obama, and Brown. Another one describes a moment at the border control in Calais. The artist covers the drawings with stars and places a variety of historical and current human activities under a firmament.
Text by Sabine Schaschl