Jun 17 2013

Basel Basel: Der Zweite Tag (The Second Day)

by HG Masters

Art Basel has the formula down. After all, if it works (and it does), why fix it? Many galleries have the same booth location in the fair, year after year, often showing the same combination of artists. Just as constant, the raclette stand is always there on the second level, serving pungent melted cheese on potatoes with sliced gerkins. For variety, a fresh handful of emerging galleries are sprinkled around the periphery in the Feature section (described by the fair as “precisely curated projects”) or in Statements (“projects by young, emerging artists”). This being a Venice Biennale year, many of the artists showing in Italy are also showing here, as galleries capitalize on the Biennale’s gold-plated endorsement. The normally staid Art Newspaper’s brought this complicated, sibling-like relationship out into the open in its Basel edition, declaring that dealers were “selling well at the other major art fair this summer—the Venice Biennale.” 

As Art Basel prepares for the second of its VIP preview days, the sun shone on the world’s cleanest and most glamorous favela (Brazilian slum), designed by Tadashi Kawamata, here in the Messeplatz outside the halls of Art Basel. Countless people have been irked by the appropriation of this vernacular architecture.

Inside the Statements section, at Dubai’s The Third Line gallery, New York-based Laleh Khorramian displayed new paintings and objects from her in-progress, animated science-fiction film M-GOLIS—coming soon, to a gallery near you.

In the booth of One and J. Gallery from Seoul, a white pyramidal speaker playing Chosil Kil’s “ommmmm-ing” sound piece sat next to her fabric works, on the floor and walls.

The late Guo Fengyi’s ink drawings, relating to her practice of Qigong to alleviate her arthritis, were also featured in the Venice Biennale. At Basel, Long March Space featured (left to right): Image of Tortoise Book (1996), Lao Jun (2007) and Image of River (1996).

At the Taka Ishii booth, Ei Arakawa, Sergei Tcherepin and Aki Takahashi—who collaborated on works for the Georgia Pavilion—created three very cuckoo cuckoo-clocks, called Owls’ Earth Trap (2013).

ShanghART filled its booth with this enormous installation by Sun Xun, based on his practice of ink painting. 

At Nature Morte, LN Tallur displayed a machine that via electromagnetic energy polished the faces of coins until they were completely blank (Apocalypse, 2010). Here, another work is LN Tallur’s version of the base of a sculpture (Pedestal on Pedestal, 2011). 

Among the “precisely curated projects” in Features was this jumble of terracotta pots at SKE Gallery, part of Sudarshan Shetty’s sculpture “Path to Water.”

Sfeir-Semler of Hamburg and Beirut displayed a selection of new photographs by Walid Raad. Preface to the 3rd Edition (2013) depicts typical-looking Islamic objects (swords, vases, jewelry) recreated with Islamic patterns. 

Dirimart, another newcomer in the Feature section, filled its booth with a selection of “Artures” by the hermetic, Parisian-based Turkish artist Yüksel Arslan—another Venice Biennale (re)discovery. This one, Arture 407, L’Homme XLVIII, Schizophrenes, is from 1989. The mood of the gallery employees was significantly diminished by news—learned while I was speaking with them—that another Turkish protestor had died of head wounds inflicted by the police in the capital, Ankara.  

Each year, Emmanuel Perrotin has one of the most unusual gallery booths at Basel, with a staircase leading up to two small landings where the gallery shows works. On the top floor were three shimmering unique embroideries by Farhad Moshiri, including this adorable one, Colossus (2013). 

Gallery Chemould had a long shelf of wisdom-bearing birds by Hema Upadhyay (Princesses Rusted Belt, 2011). 

In the Edition section, STPI showed Singapore’s leading trio: Heman Chong (stickers on the wall), Ho Tzu Nyen (video) and Genevieve Chua (sculpture). 

HG Masters is editor-at-large of ArtAsiaPacific and is based in Istanbul.