Art Basel Switzerland is set to return this year from June 15-18 and is curated for the second year by Samuel Leuenberger, director and curator of SALTS in Birsfelden, Switzerland. This year’s show show has work from about 300 galleries that feature pieces of modern and contemporary art that include, paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs, prints, video, multimedia art and performance art.
A special aspect of this year’s show is the Parcours, which are 22 site-specific artworks presented around Basel’s Münsterplatz, sited in the heart of Basel’s historic city center. The Parcours are meant to portray a series of intimate experiences that address the truths of the artist’s daily experiences.
One of the pieces installed on Münsterplatz is a monumental sculpture called “Iron Tree” by Ai Weiwei. The tree sculpture is made to create a contemplative environment for viewers to reflect on their relationship to nature. Ai Weiwei is a Chinese Contemporary artist that is most known for being the artistic consultant for the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Filmmaker, artist, and performer Wu Tsang will be featuring her work, “The secret life of things is open,” in the library and smoking room of the exclusive Club de Bâle, which is exceptionally opening its doors for this Parcour. Wu Tsang’s work is in collaboration with poet and theorist Fred Moten that includes films, sound works, and printed matter.
Iranian artist, Reza Aramesh, is another Parcour artist whose work, “Site of the Fall: Study of the Renaissance Garden,” consists of three hand-carved and polished carrara marble sculptures presented in different contexts: beside the masterpieces of the Antiquities Museum, on the banks of the Rhine river, and before the threshold of Basel’s civil courthouse.
Artist Latifa Echakkhch will display his work, “Screen Shot,” in the Basler Münstersaal. His work is comprised of several three-panel screens of the artist’s height and arranged like a labyrinth, draped with clothes immersed in black India ink; each item leaving drippings on the panels and floor, which is reminiscent of wet clothing that has been lost on the run.
“Parasite Fountain” by Katinka Bock will be featured in the public arena with a poetic and direct relationship to its environment. The sculpture takes water from a neighboring fountain and does not return it to its original circuit. Another work including fountains is by Sophie Nys. She will display her work, “Foot note to a Fountain,” which are jerry cans placed at several fountains throughout the city, commemorating the fountains as social hubs and paying tribute to the perpetual source of free drinkable water that is accessible to the public. Sophie Nys has another work on display during the festival called “102 craters on Venus.” It examines the historic exclusion of the achievements of female scientists by higher institutions of learning. The work will be on view in the auditorium of Naturhistorisches.
In edition to the Parcours, there are Feature works that are curated by the gallerists who display the Feature artists. The works include solo presentations, juxtapositions, and thematic exhibitions from a group of artists that are from different cultures, generations, and use different techniques.
Of course it would not be Art Basel if there was not an Unlimited section that went beyond boundaries. This year, it is curated by New York-based curator Gianni Jetzer and will feature a wide range of presentations, from historically significant pieces to the latest contemporary works. One of the many artists featured is Doug Aitken with his video installation called “Underwater Pavilions,” which explores three mirror sculptures moored to the ocean floor near California, physically connecting viewers to the expanse of the ocean. Artist Subodh Gupta will be featuring his work, “Cooking the World I,” which recreates a shelter made entirely from aluminum utensils, in which he carries out a cooking and eating performance, commemorating these ritualistic practices.
In the Edition section of the festival, leading publishers will exhibit their publications with renowned artists that will give visitors the opportunity to see significant and rare publications. This year Edition publishers include, the Alan Cristea Gallery, Lelong Editions, Paragon, Brooke Alexander Inc., Niels Borch Jensen Gallery and Editions, Atelier-Editions Fanal, and many more.
The art festival also has a week long program of films by and about artists, all of which is curated by Maxa Zoller. She is known for her experimental film screenings and has planed a diverse program that includes 34 film and video works presented by the show’s participating galleries. On Tuesday, June 13th, the program will feature the European premiere of “He Xiangyu: The Swim,” which follows the artist on his return to his native city Kuandian, which is on the border between China and North Korea. Other program highlights include work by John Akomfrah, Kader Attia, Eric Baudelaire, Ugo Rondinone and Andy Warhol among others.