In addition to this September week of programming, Art Basel has planned smaller events for the city. Last November (when it announced the engagement with Buenos Aires), Art Basel held a series of conversations, courses, and performances held throughout a building in the Retiro neighborhood, just off Plaza General San Martin. At December’s Art Basel Miami Beach, the Buenos Aires government received a special space in the collectors’ lounge, and Argentine art world personalities participated in a panel conversation.
Foret said that the overall program aims to build opportunities and relationships for the Buenos Aires art scene—which are difficult to quantify. He suggests that Art Basel Cities might gauge progress in new opportunities for local artists and curators, or international engagements for local nonprofits, which would be realized thanks to the Art Basel network. Other metrics include press coverage and the number of meetings established for key stakeholders.
According to Avogadro, the city’s minister of culture, many of the international visitors for Art Basel Cities (mostly collectors and curators) were seeing Buenos Aires for the first time. “That’s a huge opportunity for us in terms of first impressions,” he said. “It’s a sexy city.” He compares Buenos Aires to Berlin, touting the former’s “lively, independent cultural scene.” (Additionally, major art world figures including Jorge Peres, Marc-Olivier Wahler, Massimilliano Gioni, and Pablo Leon de la Barra were all in town for the events.)
But the goal goes beyond inviting new faces to experience the capital; through Art Basel Cities, Avogadro also aims to connect the people of Buenos Aires to art in the public realm. He hopes that the opportunities galvanize the local community to interact with more galleries and artists.