In Reza Aramesh’s Site of the Fall: Study of the Renaissance Garden three hand-carved and polished Carrara marble sculptures – crafted in Pietrasanta, Italy to the ratio 5:4 of human scale – are presented within three contrapuntal contexts: beside the masterpieces of the Antiquities Museum, upon the banks of the river Rhine, and finally, before the threshold of the Basel courthouse, as if awaiting judgment.
By formally alluding to Renaissance ideals, Aramesh presents the beautiful as the damned: victims excluded from paradise. Blending classical aesthetics with anonymous figures from contemporary media, his victims have been rendered invisible, yet at the same time, the study questions the traditional representation of suffering throughout the Western art historical canon.
In the Antikenmuseum, Aramesh’s work not only conducts a dialogue with ancient sculptures, but is actually surrounded by ancient masonry. Excavations uncovered the vaulted cellars of a Gallo-Roman village from the first century AD, and they have been integrated in the museum display.
The second sculpture is to be found in J.J. Stehlin’s court building, which was completed in 1859. This important representative of historicism in Basel dominated the city in the phase of its most rapid growth. Stehlin’s works also include the Kunsthalle Basel, which was financed in a most original way. In 1850, the Basel artists’ society (Künstlerverein) started a ferry operation across the Rhine. After 20 years, sufficient proceeds had been collected to pay for the new building.
The Rhine ferries remain an attraction in Basel today. The first one to run was called the ‘Harzgrabenfähre’ and it used to cross the river close to where the present-day Wettstein Bridge stands – and where Aramesh’s third sculpture is to be seen.
Location: Wettsteinbrücke (along Rhine Promenade)
Action 181: At 10:00pm Sunday 14 April 2013, 2017 Hand-carved carrara marble
235 x 77 x 61 cm
Zivilgericht Basel-Stadt, Bäumleingasse 5 (Court of Justice Basel)
Action 190: At 5:00 am Wednesday 9 July 2014, 2017 Hand-carved carrara marble
247x 80x 83cm
Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig Collection (St. Alban-Graben 5)
Action 191: At 6:20 pm Sunday 2 April 2006, 2017 Hand-carved carrara marble
255 x 76 x 67cm