Doing the Basel...Art Basel that is
My visit to Mecca...or rather Messe, Basel 2018 :-)
I reflect on my first Basel in Miami and those thereafter as I consistently went every year without failure... yes, the ticket prices have been steadily creeping up each year, so your best bet to save is to buy online or befriend a sponsor, or like some of my friends, they have museum sponsorships that give them the VIP treatment. Of course, it depends on your reason for going to this international art fair. Being a wannabe live-off-my-art person, my curiosity is really that of seeing what"s current, what are buyers buying? Is Basel an indication of what kind of art will be popular in the coming year or presently? Should I prostitute myself to change what I"m currently working on to satisfy what I think the new flavor of the week is? I have a love?hate relationship with these questions. Will Basel in Switzerland help?
Well, I was about to find out for myself.
Excited! I arrived the night before at my very pleasant, ultra modern, yet come avantgarde hotel with a sophisticated restaurant, Hotel Eckert https://web.facebook.com/eckertgrenzach just on the edge of the Swiss-German border..Just so you know, if you don’t book in advance, the pricey hotels get pricier and the cheap become expensive, everything is booked out in Basel, as it is in Miami. I got on the road early to avoid traffic as there is a checkpoint at the border, and note that to travel on Swiss motorways you will need to buy a vignette/sticker for a nominal fee currently CHF 40 that is valued for a calender year.
Arriving on location an organized line flows into a very large parking garage, I fleetingly wished they had this kind of inexpensive comfortable parking in South Beach...parking prices in South Beach during Basel can go as high as U$30 or more. In Basel as in Miami I would suggest one finds the perfect spot to park and walk around the town unhampered by constantly changing parking spots as they fill up quickly anyway, and there are free trolleys on Miami Beach, to take one here and there. Basel certainly is quite beautiful with beautiful intimate side streets and is home to a whopping 37 museums for its relatively small size, making it worth exploring. I even found a few natives creatively floating down the Rhine alongside cruise ships and cargo.
Wow...so I finally get to Messeplatz, Basel this amazing architectural structure that houses Art Basel - created by the Herzog & de Meuron architects in 2013 - the Miami Convention center completely pales in comparison. You feel this is Basel, Art Basel, Switzerland, the mecca, an art fair at its largest and most renowned with a matched refinement that Miami has yet to acquire.
On entering the building I immediately got a very different vibe from that of Miami, here was a sense of the serious nature of Art-the side of the staid Swiss, not the party-hearty want to be seen and heard Miami glitterati crowd. The fashion was simpler and cleaner rather than bright and self-adoring. The floor plan layout of the galleries was familiar-similar and so were a few pieces of art, that I had seen previously in Miami 2017. So far only the building had impressed me, I was a bit disappointed that the art remained as it was, as if I were in the very beige Miami convention center...and then it happened...I went through the doors of Unlimited, curated by New York-based curator Gianni Jetzer! My eyes shot open and love filled my heart, for the mecca had finally come thru to show me a transcendental exhibition of large-scale installations that stimulated the mind. Here was a difference I could sink my teeth in, Miami did not house this scale of artworks, as I continued to flow through the expansive exhibition, next was Design Miami, where the designs were housed in a well designed low lite environment that enhanced the mood of the luxury uniquely made furnishings, jewelry, one-ofs. I was thoroughly enjoying myself under one roof and could have stayed all day.
With stomach growling, I was rearing for some food. The main Basel building had in its interior atrium a delectable chef-manned food court, which if you're on a budget maybe a bit high priced, but as with any city there seems a inexpensive Mr Wong’s Chinese restaurant nearby, and of course you can reenter the fair throughout your ticket purchase day.
To wrap up, like Miami there are several satellite events running concurrently, Art Basel’s week-long program of films by and about artists is curated by Maxa Zoller, Conversations on Art, Parcours to engage the public, I even ran across Scope which I had volunteered to help in Miami once. While I didn't see the festive spicy Latin atmosphere of Miami Beach, and not the plethora of art in the streets popping up on every corner, I did enjoy this show for what it had to offer and would certainly go again. Btw, my questions were answered...the plan is to just be me.
ps...pics weren't loading so at a later date Ill try to add. Cheers!