For 10 years Art Basel runs a curated section:
- Statements is an area to discover emerging artists. This year it features 27 single-artist projects from rising galleries worldwide.
- Unlimited is a project to show 60 works, that do not fit in standard exhibition booths. Because of size, contextual, technical or other reasons.
What did I like of this section?
The Italian artist Gabriele Di Matteo comments on the exaggreted boom of contemporary art from China in recent years: In his work 'China - made in Italy' of 2009 he copied the 100 most famous works by Chinese artists, but only in black and white. Then he put these works without attention in a room like a warehouse.
You can read this as an ironic 'revenge' for the millions of Chinese fakes of Italian handbags. Or - economically - as a symbol for a coming economic world order. Huntington wrote: 'Some 200 years ago China was an economic superpower and in the future it simply will be an economic superpower again.' Or - art theoretically - as a questioning of the artist's authorship and the mechanisms of the art market.
It is about an old man, Henry, who lives alone in an Asian palace somewhere lost in his life. The off speaker says: 'Henry is waiting for a story that matches his life.' You can watch him doing his every day rituals that make sense mostly to himself only. Like many of her installations this one too deals with issues of identity. Here between and beyond East and West.
It is a relief to take the 25 minutes and to watch this video aside of the hectic business of Art Basel.
Iranian artist Farhad Moshiri showed an interesting work that links Western avantgarde tradition to Middle Eastern craftsman tradition: It is a carpet in the shape of a one bedroom apartment.
From the Western viewpoint it is in the tradtition of classical sculpture that one can walk on (like Carl Andre's copper works). From the Iranian viewpoint is is interesting to notice that Iranians invest in carpets like in assets because strict Islamic banks don't pay interest. When they move abroad, often they they bring their carpets with them. The Iranians then realize that carpets are much less worth than at home. Context defines value.
Venice Biennale artist Natalie Djurberg showed an installation called 'Untitled (The Rhinoceros and the Whale)' of 2008.
There are two videos projected on a wooden structure: The two animated movies 'The Rhinoceros and the Whale' and 'Putting Down the Prey' on each side. Both films are thematically connected: Both deal with the yearn for security. But their way of acquiring it does not make sense.
In the first film a monstrous woman and man give 'birth' to a rhinoceros and a baboon. In the second movie an Inuit woman hunts down a walrus, cuts it open, sews herself into the body and then starts to dive as walrus.
I like the work of Natalie Djurberg, especially the installation with the flowers in Venice. This installation is quite strange and difficult to interpret: For me it is about the natural - and absurd - attempt to search for security in current times.
I think Statements and Unlimited are always exciting to see, as you can always discover interesting works.
Statements & Unlimited at Art Basel from 10 - 14 June 2009