The ultimate guide to Art Basel- All you need to know about the super art fair- the absolute highlights. If such a thing is even possible, this is not it.
The first thing I noticed in Art Basel is that I did not get in. In Kassel ( Documenta!!!) press (and those of us who pose as such) got info bags with little gifts and a whole preview day to ourselves, to walk around in empty rooms and the magic park. We got a do not disturbed sign for the hotel room, on one side it said Go right in I am at Documenta, the other side said Do not disturb, I am dreaming of Documenta. The priorities in Basel are clearly more pragmatic.
Art Statements and Unlimited - both a rather poor collection of works as far as innovation goes - opened on Monday for VIP cards only. Art Basel Galleries and Dead Artists section opened on the two subsequent days, Tuesday for the so called first choise VIP cards and Wednesday to VIP second choise. My gallerist told me not to use that term, but I am not quite sure what comes after first choise: VIP miscellaneous? rest VIP? young VIP?
I found out later the invite policy was planned to be even more strict (in plan for next year) refusing galleries the so called exhibitors passes, allowing participating artists to enter the fair. -I read somewhere, that artists do not belong to an artfair, it is like showing a cow to the slaughter house- I don't quite agree but regardless. I also heard there was a reception one day, so exclusive, so first choice that not even gallerists were allowed. In some mansion somewhere outside the city, for collectors only. Maybe there was even a reception for Money only somewhere. Or Credits cards only.
We all went to Kunsthalle. A massive beer garten with a main of tourist and only a side of class. When I asked a couple at the Jeremy Shaw project bar about directions (from London working in Frieze) they told me "the place is depressing". I said I thought it is something like the Bauer in Venice, they said yes, but even more depressing. Because your own mother would elbow you aside to get a better shot at a VIP category one, two or three? Or because you leave the tuition fee of your unborn child in drinks? I thought. They said because everybody inevitably goes there, every night. Yeah well.
The night Holland lost to Germany in football we were there again. Next to us a short guy with a big big crest on his jacket sort of moved in triumph when the game ended. We smiled, admired the politically doubtful imagery, saluted his borderline napoleon syndrom. The density of damn vip in this city is so big, you have to be careful who you insult, who you steal the place in the toilet, there was even a toilet booth reserved for exhibitors. Gallerinas only.
On the way to the Volkshaus for yet another party an obnoxious beret guy and an obnoxious orange-plastic-flower-necklace girl, stopped us and asked in exactly these words: Where is the art scene? My mind went immediately back to Berlin, we have been asking this question for years it seems. When, back in Basel, we failed to produce any sound- the agressive hippies explained: We are looking for a place where art people hang out, artists, gallerists- the sort. YOU (in this they focussed on me) look like you know WHERE the art scene is. We shrugged and send them to Kunsthalle as well. They said. ah yeah we were there yesterday too.
Spike Magazine Summer issue Launch party- editor Susanna Hoffmann-Ostenhof
THE KIRLIAN - A bar by Jeremy Shaw
Swiss francs are beautiful, colorful and the 200 piece is so long you can roll a fine cigar with it. A pity you have to give up so many of them so quickly. 8 of them at the Kunsthalle for a small heineken bottle that felt empty the minute you got it. 7,5 of them for a big beer in a plastic cup at the Lady Bar (a gay(?) brothel turned reastaurant, turned hip party location during the art fair. I got rid of 10 francs by buing cigarettes in the bar of Trois Rois Hotel (Drei Könige), a place where humanity goes to poke itself in the eye with a dry martini stirrer. For shame.
Q&A with a ghost- video still by Slide Show Johnny, aka Martin Skauen
Slide Show Johnny, aka Martin Skauen