Bianca Baldi
Patina

Photoforum Pasquart, Biel / Switzerland

September 18–November 20, 2022
September 15, 2022
Public programme: November 5–6

Photoforum Pasquart
Seevorstadt 71
2502 Biel
Switzerland

www.photoforumpasquart.ch
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Bianca Baldi deals with hidden infrastructures and narratives as a means of knowledge production in her research-based works. Interested in both fictional and historical contexts, her multi-layered, sensual installations combine photographs, films, objects and writings. They often take photographic documents from colonial contexts as a starting point for their investigations to demonstrate how seemingly scientific archives perpetuate hegemonic thinking.

The exhibition Patina is the most comprehensive overview of Baldi’s multifaceted oeuvre to date, presenting various works of the last decade. It finds inspiration in the idea of "patina", a concept dating back to the middle of the eighteenth century, incorporating three different meanings: “a surface appearance of something grown beautiful especially with age or use”; “an appearance or aura that is derived from association, habit, or established character”; “a superficial covering or exterior.” Today most scholarly references to patina occur in art history and conservation, referring either to the buildup on old paintings or to surface effects on metal objects. Importantly, the fashion for patina in the Western art world of the eighteenth century was tied to social and political dynamics where the ‘look of age’ became a desirable sign of distinction for the West’s old and new elites. Referring to the political aesthetics of surface and appearance, Baldi’s exhibition challenges the construction of identity, authenticity, embodiment and self-presentation. By using specific photography techniques and material investigations into surface, such as staged studio photography or close-ups of skin and textures, the artist questions the staging of race and class in history. Her works draw on historical and zoomorphic research in order to unveil how the concept of Speciesism is linked to the history of scientific racism. Combining personal stories and literary characters, Baldi connects the history of South Africa Apartheid with European colonialism and Switzerland, as shown in her latest work on the infamous Swiss-born professor of zoology and geology Louis Agassiz.

The exhibition is part of Photoforum's curatorial theme of the year 2022, "Seeing through Clouds," dealing with the role of image archives and their claim to an alleged documentation of facts in the digital age. By reworking and combining biased footage, the invited artists develop a constructively critical access to photographic images and highlight how photography serves to regulate the ways in which stories are told and power relations are established.

Bianca Baldi (born 1985 in Johannesburg, South Africa) is based in Brussels. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in 2007 from the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town, South Africa and completed her studies at the Städelschule in Frankfurt. Her work has been featured in large international exhibitions such as the 11th African Biennial of Photography (Bamako), the 11th Shanghai Biennale, the 8th Berlin Biennale of Contemporary Art and group exhibitions at Kunsthalle Bern, Extra City Kunsthal Antwerp, Kunstverein Braunschweig and Kunstverein Frankfurt. Recent solo exhibitions include Cameo at Grazer Kunstverein (2021), Versipellis at Superdeals in Brussels (2018), Eyes in the Back of Your Head at Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof (2017) and Pure Breaths at Swimming Pool in Sofia (2016).

Curated by Jana Johanna Haeckel, artistic and managing director at Photoforum Pasquart. With generous support by Flanders State of the Arts and Pro Helvetia. For all press inquiries please contact Lea Kunz: office [​at​] photoforumpasquart.ch.

The Patina public programme will include artist talks, lectures, screenings and performances on how to subvert colonial image archives.