By Cindy

01 Jul 2017


Festival 4/300: Art Basel

I have one item in my permanent bucket list that says:  Attend 300 World Festivals.  This bucket list was conceptualized in 2011 and back then, my inspiration was Fest300.  Recently, the crowdsourced site is now powered by Everfest. 

So far, I’ve only done 3.  Art Basel is just the 4th, so I have 296 festivals down the line.   Can you imagine the immensity of my bucket list?   My friend made me laugh when he said, he couldn’t complete a bucket list mine, let alone 300 festival -- not even in his after life!

An annual exhibit of contemporary art both by established and budding artists, Art Basel has branched to 2 other shows:  Miami, Florida, USA and Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China.  Of course, when in Switzerland, you have to do Art Basel in Basel, the cultural capital of Switzerland. 

Fest300 listed Art Basel Miami as a festival.  But it would be a great disservice if I visit Art Basel in Miami rather than see Art Basel in Basel while I’m here in Switzerland. 

There are several art forms, but a genre that that is unique, fun and interactive for me are art installations. They transcend a typical art show exhibit.

In Art Basel 2017, New York based Gianni Jetzer, curated a sector called Unlimited, which houses institution-sized paintings, massive sculptures, video projections, large-scale installation and live performances. 

I’m sharing with you what I saw:

Otto Piene, "Blue Star Linz", 1980 installation, Sprüth Magers. This mammoth inflatable installation resembles a multi-limbed sea creature (octopus) and flowering fauna.

Secundino Hernández, Untitled, 2015 painting, Victoria Miro

Nick Cave, "Speak Louder", 2011, Jack Shainman Gallery. The figures’ tuba-shaped heads have been silenced, the mouths sealed off with dark fabric, with inspirations taken from the New Orleans jazz funeral processions. Message: to be heard, one must speak loudly. This is very true!

Phyllida Barlow, untitled 100 banners, 2015 installation, Hauser & Wirth. Highly idiosyncratic sculptures centered on use of low-grade, inexpensive materials (timber, plywood, tape, wadding, fabric, paint, sand, plastic, cement, plaster) to create large-scale, anti-monumental works

Peter Regli, "Reality Hacking No. 313", 2014 wooden sculpture. Lévy Gorvy. Consists of five monumental pillars – three columns, a bear, and a phallus – carved from wood with a chainsaw. The artist wanted to explore the poetics of banality and the sublimity of quotidian objects.

Susan Williamson, "Messages from the Moat", 1997 installation. Bottles in nets wherein the names of the slave are engraved. From 1658 – 1700, under the first colonizers of the Cape of Good Hope, the Dutch East India Company, more than 1500 transactions involving the buying and selling of slaves were recorded.

Philippe Parreno, "Fraught Times: For Eleven Months of the Year it’s an Artwork and in December it’s Christmas (July)", 2017 sculpture, Pilar Corrias. Each of the 11 trees is different. Message: There are 11 trees that stop being art work on the 12th month, which is December. It emphasizes that any object is affected by the seasons: not self-sufficiency, thereby, its meaning changes according to specific spatial, temporal, situational contexts.

John Baldessari, "Ear Sofa; Nose Sconces with Flowers (in Stage Setting)", 2017 performance, Marian Goodman Gallery, Sprüth Magers. Art deco glamour installation, it is made up of ear-shaped sofa and two wall-mounted upturned noses housing flowers in a dramatic stage setting, made absurd by the presence of a model and a poodle.

François Morellet, "Weeping Neonly", 2001 installation, A arte Invernizzi , Annely Juda Fine Art , kamel mennour. A great disorder, these light neon blue installations are loosely hanging down, they are arranged in eight vertical sets, each one connected to a transformer affixed high on the wall. The position of the tubes, six in each set, was determined by drawing lots and using the number π.

Rob Pruitt, "Rob Pruitt’s Official Art World / Celebrity Look-Alikes", 2016 multiple prints, Gavin Brown's enterprise. Contemporary art by pairing images of widely known members in the art community with their celebrity counterparts.

Song Dong, "Through the Wall", 2016 installation, Pace. The work reflects on the ways in which the contrast of historic and contemporary forces can shape a viewer’s experience. Message: Tangible and intangible walls like virtual, political, and cultural, among others are impenetrable.

Imi Knoebel "Konstellationen", 1975 painting, Galerie Bärbel Grässlin , Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder , Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac. Referenced to Malevich’s concept of the ‘zero point of painting’ through the use of monochromes.

Subodh Gupta, "Cooking the World", 2017, Galleria Continua, Hauser & Wirth. Made of worn vessels, cooking pots and pans, bear witness to individual histories and narratives of past utility symbolizing increased significance of food consumption and preparation.

Bethan Huws, "Forest", 2009 installation, Galerie Tschudi , Vistamare. Based on on the principle of repetition using accumulating a large number of bottle racks.

Donna Huanca, "BLISS (REALITY CHECK), 2017, Peres Projects. "Performers are directed to respond to the installation of Huanca’s corporal sculptures, subliminal sonic cues, and natural pigments. The work evolves as the sound progresses daily, the performers alternate, and the stage changes from each performance – leaving behind the traces of bodies and debris."

Secundino Hernández, Untitled, 2015 painting, Galerie Krinzinger.

Cildo Meireles, "Amerikkka", 1991 installation, Galerie Lelong & Co. , Galeria Luisa Strina. The intallation's ceiling is made out of golden bullets. The triple ‘k’ in the title alludes to the Ku Klux Klan, the far-right organization that espouses white supremacy and the use of extreme violence.

Julio Le Parc, "La Longue Marche", 1974, Perrotin , Galeria Nara Roesler. It works in a system of 14 colors of the chromatic prism in a suite of 10 square paintings. The prismatic meshes unfold in fluid sequences creating a visual effects of superposition, braiding, and overlap.

Thomas Huber, "vis-à-visII", 2014 painting, Skopia / P.-H. Jaccaud. It evokes a "social place, making space for the encounter with the spectator. Four paintings show a space divided into a red zone and a blue zone. The observer is in an imaginary field between the images, as much in front of the images as in the midst of a represented image-space." Don't I look like I'm part of the painting? This is what I like best about this illusory painting. It's very playful.

Sylvie Fleury, "Skylark", 1992 installation, Mehdi Chouakri , Karma International , Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salon 94. This Geneva registered car (GE 765416) was poised to symbolize a macho status symbol into a glamorous accessory. A woman’s belongings lie haphazardly on the front seat (sunglasses, magazines, gloves), while 1960s garage-girl-band songs play on the tape deck.

Hélio Oiticica, "Penetrável Macaléia", 1978 sculpture, Bergamin & Gomide. This sensory cage is a walk-in paint metal grid structure, filled with sand, rocks, and plants. The idea is upon entering it and closing oneself within its gates, one is either imprisoned by the grid, and/or experiences the freedom and pleasure projected by colors and textures.

Jason Rhoades, "Sutter's Mill", 2000 installation, Hauser & Wirth. Gorgeous aluminum and steel poles scaffolding.

Andrea Bowers, "A Call to Arms: Building a Fem Army", 2017 work on paper, kaufmann repetto , Andrew Kreps Gallery Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. Women power, a depiction of contemporary feminist revolution.

Next year, block your calendars:  Art Basel 2018 will start on June 14 and will end June 17.

The most important tip I can share to you in your visit to Art Basel 2018:  do not bring in professional cameras. 

Also, since I love lighting systems, I missed passing by the Art Basel Collectors Lounge where they featured Friday Fjellman's "Crystal Atmosphere".  Frida is a critically acclaimed Swedish craft artist.  This lounge is only available to NetJet VIP clients.  NetJet is a private aviation firm offering private jet services.  

Luckily, I'm not an art collector but just an art enthusiast.  Each piece has a minimum value of USD 300,000 and can go as high as USD 25,000,000.  

According to Bloomberg, the insurance value of the thousands of work on offer at Art Basel estimated to a whopping total of USD 3,400,000,000.  That's in the trillion mark!  No wonder security was very tight, even in trains.

I hope that for those who missed Art Basel 2017, I was able to make you feel as if you were there.  

My final words:  Life is short and unpredictable so make the most out of it.  Also, find your own interpretations of these art pieces and share in the comments section.

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