Ricardo Basbaum, the “NBP object” and “Four Verbs”

In 2007, Brazilian artist Ricardo Basbaum designed an installation for Documenta 12 in Kassel, Germany, that addressed the architecture of the building in which it was located. Besides being site-specifically placed at the entrance of the Aue-Pavilion, it also included the documentation of the proposition entitled Would you like to participate in an artistic experience? The artist conceived “a museum inside a museum,” displaying, in addition to an internal circuit of tv and video monitors, a computer terminal so visitors could access the information related to that experiment. The installation created an interface between the exhibition and Basbaum’s previous research.

The question Would you like…? is the title of a 15-year-old proposition. Basbaum invited the participants to receive a special artifact, the NBP object–the acronym means “New Bases for Personality”–to experiment with its potentialities, to record the experience and to readdress it. This artifact is based on an irregular polyhedron (a rectangle with truncated vertices, containing a circle in the middle) that has strong visual appeal. Although the NBP object may recall Minimalism, it exhibits distinctive features, being simultaneously autonomous and practical. Even so, in an inversion of Kantian aesthetics, most participants avoid any anxious contact with a self-reflexive (art) form while searching for its purposefulness…

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Volume 28, Number 1: Shirin Neshat

This article originally appeared in Border Crossings #109, published March 2009.

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