Here is a little recap and photo guide of my trip to the art fair Art Basel 2018.
Coming up on the blog after this: a city-guide for Basel! There you will find info on museums, activities, places I went to and how much did the whole trip cost me.
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For the art world it is the most important, historical, not-to-miss art fair. It started in 1970 in Basel and now the company is one of the most respected, well-known, influential of the art world. Think VIP+++. There you have all the leading galleries, the artists, the publishers, the magazines, everything is represented.
The fair is split into several sectors. The two main ones, the floor with the booths and Unlimited, are located in Messeplatz in center city. The third one is the Parcours which is a circuit going through the historical district.
Art Basel – Unlimited
As presented on their website “Unlimited is Art Basel’s pioneering exhibition platform for projects that transcend the classical art-show stand, including massive sculpture and paintings, video projections, large-scale installations, and live performances.”
It took me all morning to see this section. Unfortunately since the time is quite limited during fairs I did not get to watch all the art films. I had to select one or two to watch, or write it down and keep an eye out for the artist’s next show.
Here is a little selection of my favorite artworks there:
Edith Dekyndt, They Shoot Horses (Part One), 2017
I was very drawn to this piece, which is an installation composed of a sculpture and a video. You can see a giant beige curtain and when approaching it, you discover tiny nails on it. Which looks pretty and detailed, but also dangerous. The video on the other side show a couple dancing with their figures being a little blurry. The inspiration for the piece was the dancing contests during the 1930’s, during which couples would compete for the title of who can keep up the longest. The image resonates with our modern times.
José Yaqué, TUMBA ABIERTA III, 2018
This immersive piece took a whole room. All of the walls were covered with these shelves and bottles, from floor to ceiling. Time is clearly an inspiration here, the transformation of matter and of self.
1. Barbara Bloom, The Tip of the Iceberg, 1991. You can’t see in the picture, but when you would come up close to the table, you could see the reflection of the plates on the glass shelf. They had images of the Titanic wreck printed on them. The ceiling is also part of the installation, the carved objects were chosen from the list of the NASA of items found in outer space.
2. Mikhael Subotzky & Patrick Waterhouse, Ponte City, 2008-2014. I really have a soft spot for documentary installations and exhibitions. Ponte City is a building in Johannesburg in South Africa. This installation is the result of a 6-year-long exploration by the artists on the life of this building and its inhabitants.
3. Lara Favetto, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), 2018. Besides it being an installation of confetti and precisely pink in the picture? and resisting kicking it? The ephemeral fragile state of the confetti combined with the inspiration of the movie “Birdman” is a starting point for understanding the piece.
A beautiful video shown in this section which struck me was Incoming by Richard Mosse. It follows a group of migrants with a thermal camera, giving an image of ghost-like figures. The installation, composed of three screens, is quite immersive, it stays with you. I hope to see it entirely in the future.
Art Basel – Galleries
It is a little hard to just sum up the artworks presented by 290 galleries in one article. There are also in this section, other subdivisions, for example the “Feature” and ” Statements” sectors. The first one shows curated projects by established artists. The second one presents new solo projects by emerging artists. In this sector two artists are awarded the Baloise Art Prize. The group then acquires artworks and donates it to important European art institutions.
I think my favorite installation was the one by Helen Verhoeven, I wish the picture was better, because her work is amazing. It was a small chapel and the whole room was filled with artworks by so many different mediums: ceramic, stained glass windows, and paintings everywhere.
Art Basel – Parcours
Last but not least the Parcours. As I said it happens in various places in the city. So you discover at the same time the beautiful places of Basel. On Saturday evening there were performances happening everywhere. I managed to see the theater play There’s no us in masterpiece by Keren Cytter. During an hour you discover the intimate story of two characters, with moments “shifting between the acted and the non-acted”.
I was quite happy to get to watch the acclaimed film Manifesto by Julian Rosefeldt. It is a piece for anybody who likes art and cinema. Cate Blanchett is incredible she plays 13 different roles and cites excerpts of various texts from Futurists, Dadaists, Pop art and directors. The editing, the atmosphere of the different scenes, the transitions, the texts just keep you mesmerized.
My favorite installation presented in the Parcours section was the one by Nedko Solakov. This artist goes in museums and ads little notes on the glass cases. It was just so refreshing to see an artist who uses humor as a vector and museum as context to pass along a message.
That’s all for Art Basel! I did Unlimited and the Galleries sections in one day and the Parcours took me another day. I enjoyed it very much even if I could not feel my feet and legs afterwards. One last thing, save up for the trip because everything is expensive. The entrance ticket is 50 CHF and the food inside the fair is too (over 20CHF for a soda, a pasta salad and a piece of cake, and it did NOT taste good). Of course you can’t leave the fair to go to a cheaper place. I strongly suggest ending the day at a nice restaurant to make up for it!
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