Reto Pulfer’s immersive installations often involve fabrics and threads that create rhizomatic spaces and shelter objects and traces of his interest in metamorphosis. Reto Pulfer considers his installations in terms of their mnemonic and imaginary potential: they create spaces that communicate with an immediate, cosmic environment. Thus, the desire to find one’s way, to stabilize and take root, blends with the possibilities for wandering, adapting, and endlessly transforming oneself.
— Claire Hoffmann
The exhibition title, Die Loci der Ortie, is linguistically self-reflexive, with the artist playing on words from different languages: loci means places in Latin and translates as orte in German, while ortie (nettle in French) simultaneously signals the artist’s interest in the way plants are utilised while reminding us of the German orte.
Designed as a pathway leading through a succession of tents and objects representing specific mental and physical states, Die Loci der Ortie is a reflection of the starkness of the dam and the artificial character of Vassivière Island. Pulfer sets out to transform Aldo Rossi and Xavier Fabre’s postmodern art centre by constructing a place for listening, remembrance and a pleasingly unexpected interaction between environment, sculpture, architecture and music.
I have never made a red room before. Usually, my immersive environments are informed by hues of blue and turquoise. My guitar is red, but the colour of my novels I don’t yet know.
I am just about to dig a trench surrounded by stones and replanted nettle, fern and wild thyme. The axis of the trench points to the place where Scorpio’s main star Antares rises, which at night shines in deep red on the southern summer sky.
I have always kept my distance to the colour red. I mean, I use the colour, but normally just sparsely. Equally, it took me 20 years of art making to pursue small scale painting. I paint on rags, torn pieces of linen, bedsheets. I am ashamed that there is a book called Painting on my desk as I don’t usually have books in my studio.
— Reto Pulfer
Tincti unfolds in the unpolished space of the former depot room of Museum der Kulturen. The immersive installation of curtains, furniture, and rusty metal objects creates an atmosphere that wavers between the homely and the spectral. The centrality of textiles in the installation, and in Pulfer’s broader practice, resonates with the provenance of the museum building—formerly owned by the prominent silk ribbon merchant Martin Bachofen. Interspersed in the space are wild plants—echoed in the natural plant dyes that colour the textiles—in an arrangement that both evokes and withdraws from the aesthetic of home décor. The wild plants highlight a desire for freedom while the natural features were further investigated in Pulfer’s performances, whereby the artist animated the installation through dance and live music in a manner echoing the Wilde Maa (wild man) from the Vogel Gryff festival (Festival of the Griffin), one of the oldest and most prominent annual processions in Basel, dating back to the Middle Ages.
Dehydrierte Landschaft (dehydrated Landscape) was conceived as a route through a succession of tent installations containing, at its core, a synaesthesic oeuvre in the form of a big hemp net titled MMMS Reticulum Dehydrierte Landschaft.
EXHIBITIONS at Hollybush Gardens
Reto Pulfer: The Placidity of Choice
22 November – 21 December 2013
I Like What I See And How It Makes Me Feel
Knut Henrik Henriksen, Alejandra Hernández, Lubaina Himid, Reto Pulfer
3 June – 9 July 2016
Every Object is a Thing but not every thing is an object
Eva Fabrégas, Jaimini Patel, Ruth Proctor, Reto Pulfer, Alex Reynolds, Anne Tallentire, Aaron Tan
13 April – 19 May 2018
Festival – En pratiques à la Fondation Lafayette Anticipations à Paris
Exhibition highlight, Maze Magazine, 9 February 2020
Der Stoff, er bebt und atmet
Interview, taz Berlin, 7 February 2019
Metamorphoses – Let Everything Happen to You
Review by Adam Kleinman, Art Agenda, 22 June 2018
Interview by Annette Amberg, Flash Art, 6 September 2016
Review by Linda Taylor, Frieze, No. 174, October 2015
Reto Pulfer: Gewässerzeiten
Review by Lizzie Lloyd, Art Monthly, No. 389, September 2015
Reto Pulfer “Gewässerzeiten” and Patrick Staff “The Foundation” at Spike Island, Bristol
Exhibition highlight, Mousse, 3 September 2015
Review by Marco Tagliafierro, Artforum, 8 June 2015
Reto Pulfer at Kunstverein Nürnberg, Nürnberg
Exhibition highlight, Mousse, 5 December 2013
Reto Pulfer: Zustandseffeke
Review by Matthew Shen Goodman, The Brooklyn Rail, 19 July 2013
Review by Allese Thomson, Artforum, 6 June 2013
Review by Matthew Rana, Frieze, No. 148, 1 June 2012
Profile by Barbara Casavecchia, Frieze, 11 November 2011
Review by Simone Menegoi, Artforum, 18 October 2011
Reto Pulfer. For A Subjective Syntax
Profile by Andrea Ruggieri, Arte e critica, June – August 2011
Parco giochi per artisti
Profile by Andrea Lissoni, Rolling Stone, May 2011
Reto Pulfer – Some whales and some ways of installing a sculpture
Essay by David Lewis, Mousse, No. 21, November – December 2009
Interview by Michele Robecchi, artmap, 2008
Reto Pulfer (born 1981, Bern, Switzerland) lives and works in Uckermark, Germany. He creates immersive installations using fabric, plants, drawings, paintings and a variety of found objects. Pulfer participates in Liverpool Biennial 2021 with a major, site-specific work. Recent solo exhibitions include Reto Pulfer: Gegenwartsgewaechse, Fundaziun Nairs, Switzerland (2020); Angiozustand, Lafayette Anticipations, Paris (2020); Tincti, Art Basel Parcours (2019); Bourgeon purin pur, Centre culturel suisse, Paris (2019); Die Loci Der Ortie, Centre international d’art et du paysage de l’île de Vassivière, France (2015); Gewässerzeiten, Spike Island, Bristol, UK (2015); Dehydrierte Landschaft, Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, Switzerland (2015); Les chambres des états, Musée régional d’art contemporain Languedoc-Roussillon, Sérignan, France; and Zustandseffekte, Swiss Institute, New York (2013). Selected group exhibitions include You, Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (2019); Kunstkredit Basel-Stadt, Kunsthalle Basel (2018); Metamorphoses — Let Everything Happen to You, Castello di Rivoli, Turin (2018); 100 Jahre Gegenwart. Der Auftakt, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2015); and Animism, Kunsthal Extra City Antwerpen and M HKA – Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp (2010). His work is held in the collections of FRAC Limousin, France; Centre national des arts plastiques, France; Collection Lafayette Anticipations, Paris; Sammlung Kunstkredit Baselland, Basel; and David Roberts Art Foundation, London.