HAPPENINGText: Kana Sunayama

It is known that in the weeks of Art Basel, it usually has nice early summer weather. However, this year’s the world best contemporary art fair “Art Basel 2008” was taken place on a chilly day with intermittent rain showers.

Art Basel 2008
Public Art Projects

Everyone in contemporary art unanimously calls Art Basel, the best contemporary Art Fair in the world. It might also be possible to call this an annual contemporary art specialty exposition that takes place in the border city Basel at the border between Switzerland, France, and Germany.

To have a booth in Art Basel for an art gallery is not easy. Only 300 galleries that meet the stringent criteria for selection are allowed to have a booth in the fair. For selecting galleries, not only representing artists and its reputation and quality, but also the quality of exhibition in a small booth during the fair, and gallery’s style and rectitude are in the criteria. This is in Switzerland. If a gallery does not follow the discipline of Art Basel, it cannot come back to Art Basel even it has been making great projects.

Because Art Basel is a prestigious art fair with authority selectors, all galleries take Art Basel’s one week very seriously and prepare for the fair. They acquire high-quality works in advance from artists. And most galleries propose new projects to artists to make the fair the presentation of a cutting-edge art works with the most expensive market valuation.

In recent years, series of debate sessions and film screenings besides regular exhibitions have been organized during the fair to make Art Basel a space to think art. However, for a person who comes to Basel, the purpose is to see the best contemporary art and wholeheartedly enjoy it. Art Basel’s site is sectioned into 5 different spaces.

At first, there was a section for public art projects. Public artworks are exhibited in front of the messe where Art Basel is taken place. This year, Rose by Iza Genzken and beautiful half-mirror artworks caught to the eyes of passers-by.

Art Basel 2008
Art Unlimited

Secondary, there was the Art Unlimited. It was the section for the fair to clean the concept of booth, first introduced in year 2000. Gigantic artworks that cannot be exhibited in a regular booth were exhibited like one exhibition without barriers of different galleries. However, this was the space for business even it looks like an exhibition. Even such a gigantic installation artworks, there was a price tag on it. And, there always be business negotiations with collectors who want to buy it and dealers who want to sell it.

Thirdly, there was the section called Art Statement that shared the space with Art Unlimited. In this section, about 30 galleries exhibited one artist from each gallery, and it was staged in one-man show style.

This year, Art Unlimited and Art Statement did not look like lively and not exciting, but Art Premiere was full of vigor with 16 galleries with each gallery presenting a couple of artists in one booth.

Art Basel 2008
Barbara Thumm

Particularly, Fiona Banner and Chloe Piene from Galerie Barbara Thumm, Tomoaki Suzuki and Naoyuki Tsuji from Corvi Mora, and Jessica Stockholder from Galerie Nathalie Obadia were very interesting in terms of both concept and its visual.

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