The video Before the Future (all works 2015) by the young Zurich-born artist Seline Baumgartner greets visitors to her current solo exhibition. Featuring dancers Meg Harper, Vicky Shick, Jon Kinzel, and Keith Sabado, everything seems transformed in this work: The winter beach at Fort Tilden in Queens, empty of human beings, is a stage, the sea and ships on the horizon are backdrops, while the azure winter sky is a broadly spread soffit. They dance—all at an advanced age—alone or in twos or fours; they act like birds, trolls, freaks, and scratch lines in the sand. Only the close-up of the incredibly beautiful Harper in profile deserves to enter art history.
The title of the video, which is also the title of the exhibition, evokes the broader ecstasies of time, past and present. A fulfilled present cannot be established without the past. The works presented here insist upon this. The Minimalist installation As Everything Fades (Packard Plant) consists of several hundred parquet blocks from Albert Kahn’s automobile factory—which has since been torn down—stapled to the wall. The magical C-prints Everything Fades While We Turn Away (Packard Plant) 1–3 show further materials found there, such as charred wood or mattress stuffing, which were recorded with a hand scanner.
The artist lays bare traces and stories. Thus, in the video Belle Isle, Baumgartner visits an abandoned zoo. Nature has long since reconquered her terrain there. Static shots accord to a story told offscreen, without mawkishness, of a friend who suffers from bipolar disorder. It is an impressive testimony that the future, without reflecting on the past, is not to be had.
Zuerst erschienen online bei Artforum, http://artforum.com/picks/section=ch#Zurich