By Eugenia Bertelè
The new edition of Art Basel Unlimited program displays – for the first time at the Messe Basel’s Hall 1– a unique selection of 72 large-scale projects offering the galleries the opportunity to showcase monumental sculptures and installations. The huge and amazing space is mounted for the seventh time by Gianni Jetzer, curator at-large of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden of Washington D.C.People love to interact with the Translucent Chromointerferent Environment (1974/2009) of Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez represented by Galeria Raquel Arnaund in Sao Paolo. The installation is a light evolving work that awakes perception mechanisms into the viewers, who become simultaneously authors and actors of the animated space: everything is transforming and loses its materiality. A fantastic reality is also created by the Catso Violet, the 1967 light projection of American artist James Turrell (Bernier/Eliades gallery, Athens), where a solid cube is shaped just by the immateriality of light. Going deeper and deeper into false perceptions we meet Barbara Bloom’s installation, The Tip of the Iceberg, 1991 (Galeria Gisela Capitain – Cologne, in collaboration with Raffaella Cortese, Milan) and all of a sudden you feel underwater or directly cast in another space. A circular table, lit from below and above, is stacked with porcelain tableware all bearing the logo of the legendary RMS Titanic. By approaching the table, you can see that the undersides of the dishes are printed with images taken from the Titanic wreck on the ocean floor. The artist’s fascination for the connections between objects and images is clear in this work, as well as the meanings implied through their placement and combinations. Barbara Probst Exposure #85: N.Y.C., Broome & Crosby Streets, 01.11.11, 12:31pm, 2011 (Monica de Cardenas, Milan) explores subjectivity taking a portrait of the same scene from different angles at the very same moment. The fragmentation of the instant into a series of 13 shots is a tool to inspect the ambiguities of the photographic image. In A Hundred Times Nguyen, 1994 ((Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg; Galerie Lelong, New York; Kamel Mennour, Paris;Thomas Schulte, Berlin; Lia Rumma, Milan), Alfredo Jaar employs four slightly varying images of Nguyen Thi Thuy, a young Vietnamese refugee born in a camp. In a media landscape saturated with images bombarding us with no mercy, Jaar hopes to communicate a larger story by focusing simply on a little girl.
Another very provocative artwork is Robert Longo’s Death Star II, 2017/2018, created in response to the exponential proliferation of mass shootings in the United States: it consists of a suspended globe studded with 40.000 copper and bronze full metal jacket bullets. The work is a sequel to Longo’s original 1993 sculpture and it reflects the violent thread of all accidents across the last 25 years. Relative meaning and plurality of truth is the subject of the performance Alternative Facts, 2017 by Paul Ramirez Jonas.
The American artist acts as a notary certifying private lies in public documents. As this notary process requires payment in gold, the artist offers to transform the customer’s pocket change into gold. The performance shows not only the legal, but also the chemical process of transformation. https://bit.ly/2LxuYvzAn important part of the program is dedicated this year to video art installations. Among them, an historic piece of one of the foremost American artist of the postwar era: Bruce Conner. Breakaway, 1966, surpassed in formal daring the majority of film works made at the same time, helping to define what would became the modern music video. Belgian artist Francis Alÿs’s Tornado, 2000-2010 (David Zwirner, New York) is a footage gathered over a decade and documenting the tornados that ravage the land at the end of dry season in Mexico. The artist’s attempt to enter the vortex and capture the tension between violent, chaotic movement and unsettling quietness is a metaphor for the artist’s struggle to find a furtive moment of peace that could hint at a new realm of possibilities. Candice Breitz, TLDR, 2017 (Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg; Kaufmann Repetto; Kow, Berlin) is a video portrait of a sex workers community active in Cape Town. Pointing a finger at herself, the artist bluntly asks whether and how all creatives living a privileged life fully represent marginalized communities. All these artworks and interactive environments open up a dialogue with our time. Once more, Art helps us questioning the times we live and hopefully, better understand them. Don’t loose the chance to see Untitled if you are in Basel! For more information: