Thea Djordjadze’s solo exhibition is as contradictory as its title, and its success depends upon what the Georgian artist achieves with the many ideas and forms she brings into play. endless enclosure suggests boundless yet restricted possibilities, and could be applied directly in the show’s first room. In a generous exhibition hall, rugs, benches, plaster and detritus have been assembled into 12 sculptural arrangements, each less than a metre tall, thus dwarfed by their solemn surroundings yet collectively defining and controlling the entirety of the space. A second, smaller room contains three arrangements: a bench almost hides a clay object: on the wall opposite, a further lump of clay hangs, with a small green rug beneath it singing out vibrantly against walls covered in a dark, organic shade of line: a sink-like structure is propped against the wall.
The third room is the most intimate; a bare bench suggestive of a narrow bed, looks out a window to the church beyond the Kunsthalle. Other objects including a lamp made from a newspaper stand, a narrow shelf and what could be an empty votive altar on the wall complete a spartan environment.
The aesthetics of the show are without doubt finely judged. The main hall is largely neutral, bar subtle moments of lilac-painted plaster or cornflower blue veneer that surface occasionally. The rugs folded or unfurled show signs, like the parquet floor, of careful wear. The tone is earnest, aside from one ungainly wiry figure dipped in plaster standing comically in a corner. The dark walls of the school-like middle space could be overlooked as standard décor in some forgotten regional Kunsthalle, though such a laden backdrop would hardly be found in the Kunsthalle Basel, domain of Adam Szymczyk, so the frame for the vibrant green statement is no accident. The arrangement of the final monastic room is orchestrated not to ignore the view, but to draw the city beyond into discussion.
The ideas inherent in these structures are equally appealing: the shape of a Le Corbusier banister has been limned in fine wooden batons. Another Corbusier design forms the basis for a table arranged for a game or a meeting: the wooden structures are untreated and may be supporting or elevating the objects placed around them: the textiles are Bedouin rugs borrowed from a local collection, articles with which people could roam unfettered, identity and domesticity secure in the very fabric they rested on. Or do they refer to a meeting of Orient and Occident?
Djordjadze has provided titles for the 18 works in the show, though the visitor is at liberty to apply them as they wish. Some settle easily on arrangements (take eleven things to be named), others, cease to matter, and are more cryptic. They hover, like the many other references alluded to, over the works. Djordjadze masterfully communicates on many registers, from scholarly to intuitive, yet seems reluctant to settle on any one position. That suspension of decision making has allowed critics to apply innumerable readings to her work; here the result feels orderly, pleasing, but not entirely honest. This is a study of nomadic life, a contemporary life scavenging ideas and influences, without resolution.
Aoife Rosenmeyer is a writer based in Zurich