by Vatsala SethiOct 04, 2022
This week, the art world will descend on Basel in Switzerland, for Art Basel 2022, helping restore the fair to its pre-pandemic glory. STIR looks into some of the must-see pieces from the Basel art fair's numerous categories, which include enigmatic large-scale sculptures, installations, and thought-provoking art. Art Basel, which was founded in 1970 by Basel gallerists and is defined by its host city and region, is distinct, as evidenced by its participating galleries, artworks on display, and the substance of parallel programming established in partnership with local institutions for each edition.
Art Basel brings together the worldwide art world for a first edition of its Swiss exposition, with 289 renowned galleries from 40 countries and territories. For the first time, 19 galleries from Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas are participating in the event. The 2022 edition is incorporating a hybrid physical and digital format to reach the widest possible audience both on-site and online.
The 2022 edition of Art Basel is back with enthralling presentations in all of its specialties: ‘Unlimited’ – a section of monumental projects – features large-scale installations that are larger than regular art show stalls; ‘Statements’ is all about solo presentations from emerging artists, ‘Feature’ is dedicated to curated works by artists from 20th and 21st century, and ‘Parcours’ section, curated by Samuel Leuenberger, will be presenting site-specific works throughout Basel’s Old Town. Other shows and presentations are happening under the sections ‘Galleries’, ‘Edition’, ‘Film’, ‘Messeplatz Project’, and ‘Conversations’.
Here is our selection of must-see masterpieces from the ongoing edition at Basel, Switzerland.
1. Artist Jade Guanaro Kuriki-Olivo, better known as Puppies Puppies, is re-enacting after Ana Mendieta's performance Untitled (Rape) from 1973, in which Mendieta used her own body to depict the aftermath of a rape. Puppies Puppies is exhibiting a new, life-size bronze sculpture of a trans woman in the style of ancient Greek statuary at the Scala Basel as part of Art Basel's 'Parcours' programme. Its title alludes to transphobia and the fight for trans women's rights. The sculptural art will serve as a type of epilogue to the performance: the artist will walk from Scala to the sculpture, apply cosmetics and lipstick on the sculpture, then kiss herself while draped in the flag.
2. Thomas J Price’s 12-foot-high sculptural installation, Moments Contained (2022), presented by Swiss contemporary and modern art gallery Hauser & Wirth, is another work of art worth seeing. The artist seeks to dismantle the power structures propagated by traditional sculpture, prompting his viewers to question who society considers worthy of a monument. Price's subjects in his works are figures created from earlier thoughts, gestures, and positions, as well as those he has created previously. He does examine where the art will be shown and who will engage with it. His art revolves around interaction. Price raises questions about the audience's reactions to these colossal figures of colour by placing them in public areas. Following that is an interaction between the audience and the sculptures, which remains self-contained and thinking.
3. In honour of conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner, who died in December 2021, the Messeplatz in Basel will be hosting a participatory floor project titled Out of Sight by the artist. The piece, which is based on a hopscotch grid, intends to encourage and engage visitors by visualising positive thinking and using Weiner's characteristic typographic phrases.
"A person coming in with whatever situation they find themselves in, the minute they have any thoughts about themselves going FROM HERE TO THERE, they will be able to stand in front of the marelle (French for hopscotch) and realise they first have to imagine themselves doing it, that is, assuming a position,” contemporary artist Weiner had stated about Out of Sight.
4. By means other than the recognised senses, a large-scale suspended hanging artwork designed specifically for 'Unlimited' by Kennedy Yanko, is also gaining attention at Basel. Yanko named the piece before she started working on it. She stated in her statement for Vielmetter Los Angeles gallery, “Based on an intention, but By means other than the known senses has fully lived up to its namesake. The process of building this nearly 20 feet tall sculpture required all of me all at once and yet couldn't happen more than one step at a time. Waves of obstacles rose towards me and I let them crash and break and reveal the path beneath them. That crashing and breaking is a method, a means other than the known senses, and something that I am still investigating.”
The work has emerged for the visual artist, breathing and humming with the light while flexing towards and away from space. It sags, bends, twists, balances, and reaches. Yanko is delighted by the fact that it has the ability to express itself without her.
5. A three-screen video by Yael Bartana, Malka Germania (2021), is set in Berlin's Wannsee beach resort. The infamous meeting where Reinhard Heydrich (Hitler's head of security) presided over the Nazi government's plans for the 'final solution': the killing of Jews in occupied Europe took place here. Malka Germania is art as a weapon of revenge, a timed rocket fired precisely at those who want Germany's misdeeds erased.
‘Unlimited’ is Art Basel's one-of-a-kind platform for large-scale projects that allows galleries to show off large-scale installations, monumental sculptures, massive wall paintings, extensive photographic series, and video projections that go beyond the traditional art fair stand. While Thomas J Price's exhibit Moments Contained is part of Unlimited section, the sculptural installation and performance by Puppies Puppies (Jade Guarano Kuriki-Olivo), presented outdoors in the city centre by Balice Hertling, Galerie Francesca Pia, and Galerie Barbara Weiss is featured under the ‘Parcours’ sector. Weiner’s works on display at Messeplatz is a tribute to the late American artist.
"Unlimited 2022 is decidedly intense, no less a reflection on the contradictory era in which we live,” said the curator, Gionvanni Carmine, in a press statement. “A powerful expression of this is the polymorphous chorus of artistic voices in this exhibition, singing in protest against isolation, loneliness, and indifference. The chants are becoming louder and ever-more discernible.”
Art Basel is taking place from June 16-18, 2022, at Messe Basel in Switzerland.
(Text by Vatsala Sethi, Assistant Editorial Coordinator (Arts))