In 1996, Karin Sander realized the work Stoffraum Art Basel (Canvas Room Art Basel) for the newly introduced “Statements” section at the 27th Art Basel. In the approximately 6 x 6 m booth, sections in various DIN and square formats were cut from the canvas wall coverings then commonly used at the Basel art fair and placed in clip frames which were hung on top of the now blank sections of wall. 434 clip frames were placed on the wall’s surface, according to computer calculations, with approx. 5 cm distance between them. In this presentation, the canvas became both picture and consumer product. Signed and numbered on the back, these white tableaus were for sale and could be taken away immediately. Each sold work left an exposed section on the booth’s wall, revealing the wall’s raw wooden backing. While this process made visible the continual emptying of the booth as the art fair continued and works were sold, the end of the 1996 Art Basel marked the final condition of the work – the remaining framed works as well as the empty sections were fixed.
At the end of the fair, the booth walls were preserved in that state, documented and stored as a whole. Twenty-one years later, the “Statements” booth will now be exhibited in its original 1996 condition as a free-standing, walk-in sculpture. From the artist's concept to its realization, the art fair presentation, the "composition resulting from the sales" of frames and left blank spots at the end of the fair, the path of the individual framed works into private collections and into a museum exhibition (Museum Weserburg, Bremen, 2005), the work now finds another form of appearance in the exhibition space at Esther Schipper.
In order to reframe this work in a contemporary context, Harald Welzer has noted:
"If a work which consisted of pieces of fabric cut from the canvas wall coverings of a booth, put into clip frames and sold inexpensively was a radical position then, it is even more so in its repetition (…). Today the situation has changed only insofar as Sander presents the booth as a free-standing sculpture, accessible from all sides, as the sculpture of an art fair booth, which thereby has returned to itself. Yet it is not an art fair booth, but in a strange way a quotation placed in a different yet nearly identical context. Different because so much time has passed and the context of art production and the art market has changed; and identical, because it is still booth and still commentary and nonetheless still art."
Generally using each artistic and/or “non-artistic” medium available to her in order to unfold its specific potential, its social and historical context, Karin Sander here works with space and its content, with the specific spatial, social and historic contexts within the frame of the given structural and institutional conditions in which her work is exhibited. Stoffraum Art Basel highlights the art fair booth as an ephemeral, pragmatic form of display. The canvas wall covering turns into the material of a picture – a picture reminiscent of the kind of canvas that is widely used as the backdrop for artworks – the material elements of both the art fair’s and the gallery’s manifestation – is transformed here into an artwork of its own, and once more ends up re-presented at the gallery.