With its picturesque vistas over the river Rhine and an abundance of museums, Basel is the ideal location for culture lovers. This is especially true in June when the scenic Swiss city becomes home to Art Basel week. With so many art fairs to choose from in Basel, here’s what not to miss.
Since 1970, Art Basel has been presenting modern and contemporary art to a captivated audience of curators, collectors, museum directors, and the general public. Following the success of its sister edition in Hong Kong earlier this year, the fair returns for its 49th edition with presentations from 290 galleries hailing from 35 countries all showing approximately 4,000 artists. Continuing to support young galleries, there will be 16 new exhibitors, including White Space Beijing, joining the roster of established galleries.
Split into a number of sections, from ‘Statements’, which showcases emerging artists, to ‘Edition’, a presentation of limited-edition works, Art Basel continues to push the parameters of the art-fair model. This is brilliantly embraced in Basilea, a series of immersive projects commissioned by the fair and presented by Creative Time in the public spaces of Basel’s Messeplatz. Beginning in May and running throughout June, the various interventions use the city for inspiration and explore how we as citizens have the capacity ‘to alter and re-appropriate an urban environment.’
Sadie Coles HQ at Art Basel 2017 | © Art Basel
Known as ‘the young art fair’, Liste offers a welcome breath of fresh air as it champions younger-generation galleries from a broad spectrum of countries and cities, which are not necessarily located in art centers. With over 70 galleries from 32 countries, including Guatemala, Holland, Kosovo, Lebanon, Peru, Romania, and Turkey, you’ll discover the latest emerging art practices. With an emphasis on gallery-curated presentations, you will be able to see solo presentations throughout the Liste Art Centre (a former brewery) from the likes of Hungarian artist Zsófia Keresztes, whose sculptures traverse physical and virtual worlds. Plus, Mexico City-based gallery Labor will present Gala Porras-Kim, who explores how knowledge is acquired.
LISTE Art Fair Basel, 2017
Returning to the Volkshaus Basel for its fourth edition is Switzerland’s only fair dedicated to photography. Founded in 2015 by Sven Eisenhut, Photo Basel showcases the diversity of photographic practices from the historic and documentary to the contemporary and conceptual. As well as welcoming a number of new galleries, including Carlos Carvalho Arte Contemporânea from Portugal, to this year’s line-up of 35 exhibitors from 13 countries, the fair is also launching a new section. Master Cabinet: Pivotal Moment is a special exhibition of exceptional vintage prints that capture and portray various significant cultural and historical events.
Conforte with Godonou family in the living room of their house, Porto Novo. Sitting in the center of the picture, Conforte, aged 30, now lives in this house built by her great-grandfather David Godonou Dossou, in the early XIXth century. Like the majority of the merchant families, they owned Médé, literally meaning “chosen people”, a dozen of them according to her. These enslaved people were employed for domestic tasks; construction works in the family concession and in the palm oil plantations. This house is one of the highest examples of Afro-Brazilian architecture in West Africa. “Everyone wanted to abandon our ancestral property as we lacked resources and personnel”, says Mirabelle G. D., the great-great-granddaughter of the founder. “We’ve been brave enough not to let the house crumble down. The UNESCO has asked for the house to be maintained but we are still waiting for all the heirs’ approval”. Porto Novo, Benin | © Nicola Lo Calzo, courtesy La Balsa Arta
Offering a welcome contrast to the established, market-conscious model, Volta returns with a new location for its 2018 edition. Still a platform for establishing new perspectives on international art, the satellite fair offers something for everyone. In addition to the thematic displays and dual-artists booths, in which two artists’ work are showcased in dialogue with one another, there will be a number of important solo presentations, including Helsinki-based Galerie Anhava’s stand dedicated to the Helsinki School experimental pioneer of conceptual photography, Jorma Puranen.
Back at the expansive Scope Haus for its 12th edition, Scope returns with over 70 exhibitors. Over the past 15 years, and in its numerous incarnations in different cities, the fair has become known for tapping into the cultural climate with its choice of participants. Scope’s chosen galleries present a wide array of the most exciting multi-disciplinary practices; Primo Marella Gallery, for example, were early champions of Asian Art before the rest of the world cottoned on.
Primo Marella Gallery | Courtesy Scope
By Freire Barnes