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DIVERSE, DISTINCT, DEFINITIVE: THIS IS ART BASEL

Our insider’s guide to the art world’s favourite annual event, from the focal to the fringe.

DIVERSE, DISTINCT, DEFINITIVE: THIS IS ART BASEL

What started as a boutique event arranged by a small community of local gallerists has grown to become one of the highlights of the contemporary art world’s fastidious calendar. Art Basel presents over 300 galleries from all corners of the globe, showcasing both established and emerging talent across all artistic media, from sculpture to performance and everything in between. The programme is rich and vast, yet retains a strong focus on the central role of the gallery.

 

To say Art Basel is overwhelming is to state the obvious, but don’t fret: we’ve cherry-picked the highlights from across the spectrum, to create your definitive guide to Europe’s definitive contemporary art fair.

 

For an overview of all locations and events we recommend, have a look at our Art Basel City Map in full size here

 

FT_City_Map_frame

 

 

 

ACROSS THE CITY
The art fair itself is predictably huge, so combat the crowds with a walk around the city. Curated this year by Florence Derieux, the Parcours sector features site specific installations and performances in Basel’s Munsterplatz area, close to the cathedral. The programme is open to the public and complimentary half-hour guided tours are offered on the Saturday between 2 and 6 pm.

 

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Credit: Parcours '14: Eva Rothschild "This and This and This" // Mark Handforth "Magenta Torque Moment"

 

 

In parallel, Stadtkino Basel presents a five-day programme from 15th June, selected by film curator Maxa Zoller. The diverse selection of Art Basel Film is accompanied by talks by the creators themselves, and offers the opportunity to meet and get to know them.

 

 

ARTISTS TO WATCH

Rirkrit Tiravanija’s work has been described as fundamentally about bringing people together. That can certainly be said of this exciting collaboration between the Thai multimedia artist and German architects Nikolaus Hirsch and Michael Mueller, and Finnish chef Antto Melasniemi. “Do We Dream Under The Same Sky” is an extension of Tiravanija’s project in Chiang Mai, for which he worked with fellow Thai artist Kamin Lertchaiprasert to create an artistic Utopia. The Basel project is a large-scale structure of modular bamboo and steel, that invites visitors join in activities such as drinking tea made from the onsite herb garden, and preparing and eating food. In the communal spirit, guests can donate money or participate in the preparation, serving and washing up.

 

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Credit: Rendering, 2015, Courtesy Rirkrit Tiravanija, Nikolaus Hirsch, Michel Müller and Antto Melasniemi

 

 

Two of the most well-known names in contemporary art will appear in the event’s Unlimited sector, a “pioneering platform for projects that transcend the limitations of a classic art-show stand.” Among the 74 projects on show, the platform will present works by irrepressible Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei and Scandinavian star Ólafur Elíasson, who is known for his sculptures and large-scale installation art employing elemental materials such as light, water, and air temperature to enhance the viewer’s experience.

 

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Credit: Ai Weiwei by Galleria Continua // Ólafur Elíasson by Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

 

 

 

An Evening With Duncan Campbell offers the chance to meet the Irish artist, as he presents in person a selection of his films, including the 2014 Turner-Prize-winning “It For Others”. An eclectic and fearless filmmaker, Campbell’s work mixes archive footage with new material to original and striking effect.

 

 

 

THE BEST OF THE REST

Running since 1996, Liste retains its boutique vibe by focusing purely on quality over quantity. With 79 participating galleries, the fringe fair concentrates its attention on young artists and galleries. A platform for international galleries showcasing emerging talent, Volta 11 launched back in 2005 as a collaboration between art dealers and friends to act as a stepping stone between the young focus of Liste and Art Basel’s heavyweight status. Scope presents exhibitors from over 20 countries and is home to the Breeder Program, an innovative incubator project now in its 15th year.

 

Meanwhile, Volkshaus Basel is hosting an exciting exhibition by Swiss artist Robin Meier, entitled “Synchronicity”. The installation draws attention to the connections between seemingly unconnected concepts and objects that beat in a single, synchronised pulse.

 

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Credit: Robin Meier by Alexander Gorbunov

 

 

NO MORE ART! WHAT ELSE TO DO?

With all this on offer, it’s not unfeasible that you’ll need a break from all the art - if only for a chance to digest and reflect. Take advantage of the Offshore events, such as Victory Over The Sun, a restaging of the eponymous futurist opera from 1913, taking place on the Wednesday evening (17th June) from 11 pm at Theater Basel. The Vitra Campus Summer Party, also on Wednesday evening, looks set to be one of the understated highlights of the weekend. The programme comprises Afro-Polis City, a multimedia food and art installation curated by Pierre Christophe Gam, along with an inspiring and stereotype-smashing exhibition: Making Africa - A Continent of Contemporary Design. The venue, Vitrahaus, will be open until midnight and a shuttle will depart from the main Art Basel venue (Bleichstr. / Isteinerstr.) at 6:30 pm. Admission is by invitation or with Art Basel/Miami VIP passes. Limited spaces are also available by rsvp to events@vitra.com

 

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Credit: VitraHaus, Herzog & de Meuron, photo by Iwan Baan, copyright Vitra

17 / 06 / 2015 // by LigaStudios Team

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