Imagine a roadmap of Basel’s
historic quarters, sprinkled with stops to view site-specific and performative
artworks, and look no further than Parcours, the sector of Art Basel
will soon turn a portion of the city into a public exhibition. Each year,
Parcours (French for “course”) finds its home in a new neighborhood; this year,
the locale is Rheingasse, and for the second year in a row, the curator behind
it all is Florence Derieux, the Director of FRAC Champagne-Ardenne. Though she’ll
be busy installing with her artists until Wednesday night, when the exhibition
opens to Basel crowds, we caught Derieux in a moment of calm to learn more
about the 15 projects she’ll soon unveil. From Chris Burden
folly, complete with cast iron benches for reading, to Francesco Arena’s 278
, featuring performers walking the distance of Basel to
Turin (for seven hours each day), Parcours, which can be traversed within two
hours, is a sector of Art Basel we suspect we’ll return to throughout the week.
Artsy: Can you explain the
Parcours sector and its role within Art Basel?
Florence Derieux: Art Basel Parcours
was imagined five years ago by the directors of Art Basel to create stronger
links between the fair, the city, its inhabitants, and its visitors. It engages
with Basel’s past and present, weaving artistic interventions into the fabric
of the city itself. I believe that no other fair in the world has created such
a daring and generous response to the public’s ever-growing interest in
site-specific and performative works. In Basel, Parcours almost recreates the
conditions of an exhibition within the context of the fair and at the scale of
an area of the city. The artists are therefore actively involved. By offering a
different context of creation, presentation, and reception, Parcours
articulates itself naturally with the Unlimited
Artsy: Are there sectors
comparable to Parcours in the Miami and Hong Kong editions of Art Basel?
FD: Parcours is unique to Basel, but
Public in Miami Beach, which is curated by Nicholas Baume, and Encounters, in
Hong Kong, which is curated by Yuko Hasegawa, offer similar sectors that are
more adapted to their own context.
Artsy: Rheingasse, a street
within the neighborhood Kleinbasel, has been chosen for this year’s edition of
Parcours. The Parcours application describes Kleinbasel as “a place where
history meets the future.” Can you tell us why that is, and why this particular
area was chosen?
FD: Each year, a new area of the
city is chosen by Art Basel. I feel very lucky to be working in Kleinbasel,
which is one of the city’s liveliest and most culturally diverse, creatively
active quarters. Many of the historical areas of Basel have been explored in
the past five years: Münsterhügel in 2010, St. Alban Tal in 2011, St. Johann in
2012. In 2013, Parcours took place in [the Klingental neighbourhood in]
Kleinbasel, around the Kaserne Basel, a thriving urban arts center and a lively
social meeting point surrounded by many cultural institutions and businesses.
Artsy: The French word
“Parcours,” by definition, translates to “course.” Would you say that the
Parcours section can act as a roadmap for discovering the city of Basel? And
ideally, should one see the works consecutively or discover them throughout the
FD: Parcours is indeed a perfect way
to discover some historical parts of the city of Basel. Kleinbasel is located
just a few steps from the river Rhine and only at a five-minute walk from
Messeplatz. One can either decide to visit all the projects at once, which can
be done within two hours, or discover them at different times. Some projects
will irresistibly attract anyone more than once, that’s for sure!
Artsy: Can you walk us
through a few highlights of Parcours? What can we expect on Parcours Night?
FD: On Parcours Night, a visual and
musical essay by Mario Garcia Torres
be projected at the Kino Cinema at 8:30pm and at 10pm, Guido van der Werve
present his requiem in the beautiful St. Clara church.
There are then 13 more highlights to
discover: Francesco Arena’s performance inspired by the presence of Nietzsche
in Basel; Darren
’s performed installation; Gottfried Bechtold
large installation; Pierre Bismuth
night and day performances; Jean-Luc Blanc’s painting; Chris Burden
’s series of posters; Mark Handforth
monuments to the symbolic memory of superstition; Iman Issa
proposal for a public sculpture; João Penalva’s installation; Seth Price’s
eight-hour sound work; Eva Rothschild’s monumental sculpture; Zeng Fanzhi
giant plum tree branch.
Artsy: Parcours includes
works by renowned artists and emerging talents. Of the latter, who should we
keep our eyes on?
FD: I would recommend to have a
close look at the work of Francesco Arena and Iman Issa.
Chris Burden, Holmby
Hills Light Folly, 2012. Courtesy the artist and Gagosian
Zeng Fanzhi, Untitled,
2014, Image Courtesy of Zeng Fanzhi Studio and Gagosian Gallery.
Iman Issa, Proposal for a
Crystal Building, 2003. Courtesy the artist and Rodeo.