The Artsy Guide to Art Basel 2014

At the heart of the Dreiländereck, the three-country region of Switzerland, Germany, and France, sits the Swiss city of Basel, home to under 200,000 people year-round and, for six days every June, home to some 70,000 card-carrying members of the art world. Now in its 45th edition, Art Basel returns to its home base, with 285 galleries from 34 countries in tow, a more prominent presentation of younger artists in the Statements section, and a brimming schedule of events and programming.

1. When? Where? How?

Art Basel in Basel takes place in Halls 1 and 2 of Messe Basel (Messeplatz 10, 4055 Basel, Switzerland). The fair is open to the public June 19th-22nd, opening at 11am each day. You can purchase tickets in person at the fair, or online here. If you plan to visit Design Miami/ Basel and/or “14 Rooms,” purchase a combination ticket for a discounted rate.

2. Why visit?

Art Basel is a premier, global art world event. Located at a thriving cultural hub, the fair extends far beyond the Messe Basel venue through a series of events and exhibitions taking place across the city. The progenitor of its Hong Kong and Miami Beach editions, Art Basel is a beacon of current trends in modern and contemporary art.

3. Sectors

The core of Art Basel is the Galleries sector, with more than 230 of the world’s leading galleries of modern and contemporary art. Here, visitors will discover a depth of works, including paintings, drawings, sculpture, installations, prints, photography, film, video, and digital art by more than 4,000 artists. To encompass a wide variety of art, the fair includes several specialized sectors. In addition to the Galleries sector, the fair includes:

Feature: Curated projects that include solo presentations by an individual artist, or correlating and thematic exhibits by artists from a range of backgrounds.

Statements: Solo projects by young, emerging artists, presented by 14 galleries—of these, nine are new to Art Basel. Two artists from this section will be awarded the Baloise Art Prize, and their works will be acquired by the Baloise Group and donated to two European museum collections, where they will receive solo exhibitions. 

Edition: Publishers of editioned works, prints, and multiples, as well as their collaborations with artists. 

Plus Unlimited, Parcours, and Film, which are explained below.

4. Unlimited

Under the direction of curator Gianni Jetzer this year, Unlimited is an exhibition platform for works whose scale or format eclipses the classic fair booth. This sector includes over 70 works, from large-scale sculptures and paintings to video projections, installations, and live performances. Galleries exhibiting in Unlimited include The Approach, Bortolami, David Kordansky Gallery, Tomio Koyama Gallery, Yvon Lambert, and Gio Marconi

5. Parcours

For Parcours, Art Basel fills the city’s historical quarters with site-specific commissions, including sculptures, interventions, and performances by international and emerging artists. This sector is curated by Florence Derieux and includes a special opening evening program free to the public on Wednesday, June 18, titled Parcours Night. Five screenings of The Schlieren Plot will be shown in Spanish, with English subtitles, and will be introduced by Mario Garcia Torres and Florence Derieux. Also, Guido van der Werve’s home, a requiem, will be performed by 20 musicians from the Orchestra of Europe and a 28-person choir. The requiem is the soundtrack to Nummer veertien, home, the artist’s most recent film, which is being shown in the Unlimited sector. 

6. The Film Sector

The Film sector consists of a weeklong program of short and feature-length films by and about artists, curated by Berlin-based film scholar Marc Glöde and Zurich-based collector This Brunner. Screenings will take place from Monday, June 16th through Saturday, June 21st at Stadtkino Basel. Multiple artists from the program will attend screenings and take part in Q&A sessions. Highlights include:

Sequenza by Manon de Boer and George van Dam, June 18, 10pm. 

Head and Hands: My Black Angel by Aïda Ruilova, June 20, 8pm. 

A Short Film Program by Los Angeles filmmaker Pat O’Neill, June 20, 10pm. 

Tim’s Vermeer by Teller and Penn Jillette, June 21, 8pm. 

7. Live Art in 14 Rooms

“14 Rooms,” curated by Klaus Biesenbach and Hans Ulrich Obrist, will feature performative works by 16 international artists including Marina Abramović, Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, Ed Atkins, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Damien Hirst, Joan Jonas, Laura Lima, Bruce Nauman, Otobong Nkanga, Roman Ondák, Yoko Ono, Tino Sehgal, Santiago Sierra, and Xu Zhen. Each artist will activate a room with a performance that explores the relationship between space, time, and physicality. The show includes three new works created for the show by Atkins, Gonzalez-Foerster, and Nkanga. There will also be historical pieces, including Ondák’s Swap (2011), Hirst’s Hans, Georg (1992), and Abramović’s Luminosity (1997). 

The works involve over 70 performers—primarily from the Basel region. Fondation Beyeler, Art Basel, and Theater Basel have collaborated on the production of “14 Rooms,” which will open to the public June 14 and will run until June 22. 

8. Conversations

One half of the talks program, Conversations offers a series of dialogues between highly accomplished artists and art professionals, who share their points of view on collecting, exhibiting, and making art. Conversations are free and open to the public, and take place June 18th–22nd, from 10 to 11:30 each morning, in the Hall 1 auditorium. One hour of discussion is followed by a 30-minute Q&A session. This year’s conversations are:

“Premiere: Artist Talk”: Wolfgang Tillmans. June 18th, 10am.

“Public/Private: Institutions for Time-based Art”: RoseLee Goldberg, Otobong Nkanga, and Catherine Wood, with moderator Andras Szanto. June 19th, 10am.

“Artistic Practice: The Artist as Choreographer”: Alexandra Bachzetsis, Yve Laris Cohen, Xavier Le Roy, and Isabel Lewis, with moderator Hans Ulrich Obrist. June 20th, 10am.

“The Artist and the Gallerist”: Pascale Marthine Tayou and Lorenzo Fiaschi, with moderator Alya Sebti. June 21st, 10am.

“In Honor of Elaine Sturtevant (1930 – 2014)”: AA Bronson, Florence Bonnefous, Anne Dressen, Mario Kramer, and Beatrix Ruf. June 22nd, 10am.

9. Salon 

The other half of the talks program, Salon, is an extensive series of concise presentations or informal discussions that take place each afternoon, from 1pm to 7pm, also in the Hall 1 auditorium. Access to the hour-long talks is free with a ticket to the fair. Participants include highly esteemed artists, gallerists, curators, art historians, art professionals, collectors, writers, and other significant cultural figures. Highlights include:

“Art Market Talk: Investment? Collecting? Speculations?”: Josh Baer in conversation with David Mugrabi. June 19th, 1pm.

“14 Rooms: Living Sculptures”: Bernard Comment in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist. June 19th, 2pm.

“Artist Talk: Unlimited: Turning Space Into Place”: Sam Falls, Gavin Kenyon, Nick Mauss, and Alex Prager, with moderator Gianni Jetzer. June 19th, 4pm.

“Discussion: Curating at the Periphery”: Florence Derieux, Michelle Grabner, David Norr, and Sabine Rusterholz Petko. June 20th, 3pm.

“The Artist and the Curator: El Anatsui”: El Anatsui, Bomi Odufunade, and  Bisi Silva. June 21st, 2pm.

“Artist Talk: Japan's Post Murakami Generation”: Kohei Nawa and Fumito Urabe in conversation with Yuko Hasegawa. June 21st, 5pm.

10. Museum Shows

Each year Basel museums plan major exhibitions to coincide with the fair. This year museum highlights include:

Gerhard Richter at Fondation Beyeler 

Paul Chan at The Schaulager 

Charles Ray at Kunstmuseum Basel 

Kazimir Malevich—The World as Objectlessness” at Kunstmuseum Basel 

“Le Corbeau et le Renard: Revolt of language with Marcel Broodthaers” at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst

“Kriš: I AM NOT YOU” at Museum Tinguely

Explore Art Basel 2014 on Artsy.

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