Festival of the Eleventh Summer – Kunsthalle Basel

On 20 September 2014 Kunsthalle Basel launched its Festival of the Eleventh Summer, an 8-week programme of performances, screenings, concerts and talks.

The programme thereby appropriates the title of the Festival of the Tenth Summer that took place in July 1986 in Manchester, and which celebrated the city of Manchester and at the same time 10 years of punk. The organizer was Factory Records, a Manchester-based independent label that had worked since the early 1980s with famous bands such as Joy Division and New Order. Over the course of a week, ten events were held, culminating in an all-day music festival on 19 July 1986 at the Greater Manchester Exhibition Centre. A fashion show was staged at the Haçienda (the night club run by Factory Records), while the Cornerhouse, Manchester’s centre for cinema and visual arts, screened films of live concerts and band videos and hosted exhibitions of photographs. There were presentations of books by writers such as Richard Boon and Cath Caroll, and Malcolm Garett curated an exhibition of graphics and typography by designers who – like Peter Saville, who also created the graphics for the Festival and whose works were featured in the show – had risen to prominence with album covers for famous bands such as Joy Division, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and New Order.

In different ways and in a wide range of genres, the 1986 Festival of the Tenth Summer thus paid homage to music and the arts in Manchester, insofar as it produced, illustrated via various media, promoted, discussed and delivered contemporary culture directly to the public.  Almost 30 years later, Kunsthalle Basel is following on from this event – at the structural level, at least, albeit not in terms of content – in a programme that likewise comprises a variety of events in diverse artistic genres. Over a period of eight weeks, the galleries at Kunsthalle Basel are thus providing the setting for performances, concerts, talks and screenings.

At the same time, the Festival of the Eleventh Summer also examines the significance of the public programme that institutions such as Kunsthalle Basel have a duty to provide. How does a museum dedicated to the presentation of contemporary art marry its cultural policy with its public role? Basel institutions such as our own are required to be popular, to appeal to the city’s different social strata, in short to be liked, and at the same time to convey an idea of what is happening on today’s art scene, generate content and organize a lively and varied programme of public events to accompany the exhibition schedule. Festival of the Eleventh Summer takes up this discussion and makes what is strictly speaking the ancillary public programme the actual subject of the exhibition. The galleries on the Kunsthalle’s lower floor are activated but contain no permanent display of objects in the classic sense. In this way, one area of the Kunsthalle becomes a venue in which artistic genres that normally play a role in art education are themselves placed on show.

In order to shift the concept of art education from the periphery of an exhibition into its very centre, the Kunsthalle’s Art Education department, comprising Sanja Lukanovic and Leonie Brenner, is relocating its workplace into the Kunsthalle galleries. Instead of focusing upon developing a programme of educational events tailored to the latest exhibition, this workspace will be devoted to the concept of art education itself. Among furnishings by Basel interior designer Luiz Albisser, it will slowly evolve into a publicly-accessible archive of literature and materials relating to art education and will host workshops and discussions, whereby visitors have the opportunity to take material away with them and share their own views.

A series of video works, changing every two weeks, is also being screened as part of the Festival. It starts off with Grand Openings Return of the Blogs (2012), a film by Loretta Fahrenholz documenting the two-week performance program by the New York-based artist collective Grand Openings at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. A video piece by Peter Wächtler, introduced by the artist himself, will be showing as from 5 October. Basel artist René Pulfer, former head of the Master of Fine Arts programme at the Basel Academy of Art and Design, is also presenting his collection of artist records, i.e., vinyl records released by artists or with covers designed by artists. The first part of the collection will be shown up to 17 October, after which it will change. Among the records are works by artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Imi Knoebel, Allan Kaprow, Nam June Paik, Jeff Koons and Art & Language. The Festival programme also includes performance pieces by Giles Bailey, Adam Linder and Isabel Lewis. The musical genre is represented by concerts in conjunction with the local artist space OSLO 10, while Zully Adler is giving a talk on lo-fi music and music distribution. The importance of public programmes will be the subject of a podium discussion on 7 November, with guest speakers including Dr Victoria Walsh (Royal College of Art, London) and Hendrik Folkerts (Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam).

Festival of the Eleventh Summer aims to stimulate debate and at the same time spotlight the many artistic genres that receive less attention within the normal round of exhibitions at contemporary art institutions. It is a tribute to music, the visual arts, performance and discussion and invites everyone to come along and join in.

The exhibition is curated by Fabian Schöneich.

The exhibition is made possible by the generous support of Fondation Balima.


Kunsthalle Basel – Steinenberg 7CH-4051 Basel
20 September 2014 – 16 November 2014