Guest blogger Deborah Doering offers her impressions of the art exhibited in the main halls at this year's Art Basel in Switzerland.
The huge, airplane-hanger-like Hall 1 featured "Art Unlimited" and also "Art Conversations/Art Salons." Both of these were among my favorite experiences at Art Basel, but even though l visited Hall 1 each day, I was not able to visit everything I wanted to see.
"Art Unlimited" showcased artist installations which varied in size and scope. Annely Juda Fine Art Gallery of London showcased the work of Yuko Shiraishi (b. 1956, Tokyo) in a very original and thoughtful installation titled "Space Elevator Tea House":
Shiraishi elegantly expresses her dual Japanese and English cultural influences by using a 1.5 x 2 meter tatami-mat as the basic dimension to build her art work. Unfortunately I do not have the space here to include all that Shiraishi wrote about her influences (Arthur C. Clark, Buckminster Fuller, as well as physicists and journalists) in the installation's annotation, but she concludes by stating: "What discoveries could we make in a space elevator tea house with its undifferentiated floors, ceilings, and walls, travelling beyond the grip of gravity away from an Earth free of national boundaries?"
Another installation that moved me was "Cri du Coeur (Cry of the Heart)," the last monumental work on paper by Nancy Spero (1926-2009):
A frieze of female mourners was hand-printed on a scroll that runs along a labyrinthine wall and contains references to the tomb of Ramose of Thebes, as well as images of loss and grief depicted in the media coverage of Iraq, Kashmir, and New Orleans. The installation is also a powerful memorial to the artist, who died in October 2009.
There were two "maze-like" installations that required careful physical navigation. Sergio Prego's (b. 1969, San Sebastian, Spain) "Ikurriña Quarter" used a pneumatic membrane made out of a translucent material in a shape based on the Basque flag. To enter and exit the membrane required a firm "push" from the participant:
Michelangelo Pistoletto (b. 1933, Turin, Italy) created "Labirinto e Grande Pozzo," which he described as "a winding and unforeseeable road that leads us to the place of revelation, of knowledge":
The labyrinth was made of corrugated cardboard unrolled in various lengths. If you could find your way to the center, you could gaze into a large mirror which the artist referred to as "both a blind alley and an open road."
Presentations called "Art Conversations/Art Salons" were held in Hall 1 throughout the day. You can see a video (NB: Quicktime files) of each of these Conversations/Salons at http://www.artbasel.com/go/id/mgu/.
I especially recommend the Salon video titled "The Global Artworld: South Africa." South African artists Claire Gavronsky and Rose Shakinofsky (known collaboratively as Rosenclaire), Goodman Gallery director Liza Essers, and Das Kunstmagazin editors Uta Thon and Camilla Péus speak about "state of the art" in South Africa today, and how it connects to the international art scene.
In Hall 2, visitors could take their pick of art from over 300 galleries representing artists from around the globe. The following photo is one of Claire Gavronsky's paintings in the Goodman Gallery's booth:
So much art, so little time!
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