I can’t find much about the Zurich-based artist Brigham Baker on the internet, beyond a nice Instagram account. But when I emptied my mind and allowed some gallery memories to drift in (aka, the start of composing one of these lockdown posts), I thought about his beehives.
I saw them at Kunsthaus Baselland, as part of Beehave, a group show celebrating the honeybee - which was a lot less cutesy than it sounds, considering many of the artists used the animal as a symbolic harbinger of climate change, war and so on.
Baker’s contribution was pictured above - elegant blocks of hive honey on spindly steel frames. As elegant as a Mondrian, lit from behind like stained glass windows in a church. The work linked in my head with a Miró sculpture in the next room - Girl with a bee’s nest hat, in that it focussed on the bee’s prime aesthetic contribution to the natural world: those gorgeous interlocking hexagonal honeycomb patterns.
Looking closer at the hives, the honeycomb was lit up in different colours from the sun - a simple but gorgeous effect. (The exhibition was created in cooperation with the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona.)
Anyway, my notes from the show, seen a couple of years ago now, suggest that other works featured photographs of dead bees, and a room downstairs where the viewer was encouraged to walk across honeycomb patterns on the floor while listening to techno music on their headphones. I don’t remember that at all - but for some reason, these elegant steel structures are on my mind today.
Beehave was at Kunsthaus Baselland (Basel). 14 September - 11 November 2018