Basel

Rachel Khedoori

Kunsthalle Basel

The ground floor of the Kunsthalle Basel comprises a sequence of individual spaces, and that sequence lends filmic qualities to whatever is shown there. As one passes through the various rooms, a kind of linear narrative seems to be imposed on the individual works in a show. In this exhibition, Rachel Khedoori’s capacious cinema-based installations can indeed be followed like a film, maybe even a metafilm. In each individual work, though, the unity of space and filmic sequence is broken up. The projection is disturbed by sculptural and installed elements; distorting reflections alienate the spatial staging with the image. In contrast to the space in Basel, the Kunstverein Braunschweig, which will be showing Khedoori’s work this fall, occupies a neoclassical villa. There the superimposition of actual and filmed living spaces might emphasize more strongly the stationary, sculptural dimension of the works.

The exhibition in Basel began with 102nd Street, 1994–97. Footage shot over a two-year period—while traveling on foot or by wheelchair through the Los Angeles County town of Inglewood—has been edited into a two-hour 16 mm loop that slowly tracks along rows of houses. The unity of place and the repeated views of the same facades are countered by the rhythm of asynchronous takes. The silent film image was projected through a kind of peep-show box resembling a video monitor. Thanks to a mirror placed diagonally inside the box, the image was seen at an angle to the projector. Indeed, the film projector, placed on a freestanding sawhorse table, was an integral, plastic element of the installation, in view at all times. The rattling sound of the apparatus encroached on one’s visual perception, just as it did in the early days of moving pictures. The mirror in the box cast its image not only forward, onto the screen, but also, in a slightly distorted form, backward onto the projector and the wall behind it, so that every movement was doubled, estranged, on the gallery wall. A scenario that seemed so simple at first glance proved to be complexly refracted.

The same was true of Untitled (Pink Room), 2000, which begins an investigation (further developed in some photographs) of several rooms in a residentla1 building in Pasadena, California. A 16 mm film loop just four minutes long was projected on the bottom edge of a dividing wall, where it was picked up by a mirror on the floor. The camera, wandering and picking its way across a pink flowered carpet, awakens dreamlike memories of childhood days. With its precipitously swaying reflection, this search for a fixed point of reference has a disturbing rather than comfortingly nostalgic effect. In the photographs, various rooms of this same building are deconstructed, coming to seem increasingly complicated. Built and imagined spaces permeate each other. Interior spaces admit views into yet other interiors. Looking at these works was like moving through a series of built-in film sets, as if the eye had adopted the camera’s way of seeing. Organism and apparatus coalesce in one movement only to diverge again the next moment. In the end, Alice doesn’t need to pass through the looking glass—there is no longer any space in front of it to leave behind.

Hans Rudolf Reust

Translated from German by Sara Ogger.