Exhibitions

Bas Jan Ader

All is Falling

27 April - 2 July 2006

All is Falling is the first solo show of the work of Bas Jan Ader (1942-75) to be shown in a UK public gallery.

Born in The Netherlands, Bas Jan Ader moved to California in 1963, where he lived and worked for the next twelve years. From the same generation of West Coast-based conceptual and performance artists including Bruce Nauman and Chris Burden, Ader’s work is characterised by a mix of the romantic, the philosophical, the melancholic and the humourous.

Themes of loss, longing and heroic failure are never far from the surface. In one of his best-known works, the 16mm. film with accompanying postcard I’m too sad to tell you (1970-71), he filmed himself weeping in a deliberately ambiguous gesture, the reason for his sadness - indeed its very authenticity - remaining open to question.

The fall is a recurring motif in the exhibition, explored in a number of films and performances in which the action of gravity on both inanimate objects and the artist’s own body are depicted. Referencing the short films Fall I and Fall II (1970) Ader said, "I do not make body sculpture, body art or body works. When I fell off the roof of my house or into a canal, it was because gravity made itself master over me."

An experienced sailor, the ocean held a particular fascination for Ader. At the time of his disappearance at sea whilst attempting a solo voyage across the Atlantic as part of his unfinished trilogy In Search of the Miraculous, Ader left a unique body of work comprising actions documented in photographs, short films and video. This exhibition presents a survey of his modest but influential oeuvre and is an opportunity to consider his continuing relevance to contemporary artists.

The exhibition is organised in collaboration with the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam. The catalogue raisonneé of the artist is published by the Boijmans Museum, including texts by Erik Beenker; Tacita Dean; Elbrig de Groot and Joerg Heiser. The catalogue accompanying a major show at the Stedeljk Museum, Amsterdam (1988) is also being reprinted specially for the exhibition.