The modern and contemporary art mecca that is Art Basel takes place at Messe Basel from June 15 to June 18, 2017, in Basel, Switzerland. In 2016 the show attracted an attendance of 95,000 over six days.
This year's edition of Unlimited (the section of works that exceed the usual stand size) at Art Basel consists of 76 large-scale projects, presented by galleries participating in the fair. Curated for the sixth consecutive year by Gianni Jetzer, curator-at-large at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C., the sector features a wide range of presentations, from historically significant pieces to the latest contemporary works. Renowned as well as emerging artists participate, including: Doug Aitken, Carl Andre, John Baldessari, Andrea Bowers, Chris Burden, Julian Charrière and Julius von Bismarck, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Carlos Garaicoa, Subodh Gupta, Jenny Holzer, Donna Huanca, Arthur Jafa, Barbara Kruger, Cildo Meireles, Bruce Nauman, Park Chan-kyong, Marwan Rechmaoui, Mickalene Thomas and Anicka Yi.
Presented across 16,000 square meters of exhibition space, Unlimited has provided galleries – since its introduction in 2000 – with a unique opportunity to showcase monumental sculptures, video projections, wall paintings, photographic series and performance art that transcend the traditional art-fair stand.
‘Underwater Pavilions’ (2017) by Doug Aitken (b. 1968) is a video installation that explores three mirror sculptures moored to the ocean floor near California, physically connecting viewers to the expanse of the ocean. ‘Messages from the Atlantic Passage’ (2017) by Sue Williamson (b. 1941) confronts the viewer with a large-scale installation in which five rope fishing nets are suspended from the ceiling, filled with engraved glass bottles, each inscribed with a slave name, country of origin and further details, representing the 12.5 million African individuals who were shipped to the New World between 1525 and 1866. 'Saving the Safe' (2017) by Cuban artist Carlos Garaicoa (b. 1967) aims to address the financial realm and the tensions it has caused in the last years. The symbolic and powerful image of the bank is reproduced in a series of golden sculptures in tiny scale, with each miniature installed separately inside the safe box of a real bank.
Other highlights include the last work made by Chris Burden (1946-2015), ‘Ode to Santos Dumont’ (2015), an operational airship, which explores Burden’s childhood ambition of building functioning machines and is inspired by Alberto Santos-Dumont’s 20th century innovations in aviation. This will be the first time the work will be shown outside of the United States.
'Untitled (Our people are better than your people)' (1994/2017) by Barbara Kruger (b. 1945) – first shown as part of the 'World Morality' show at Kunsthalle Basel in 1994 – uses language to thematize the powerful influence exercised upon human identity by the media and politics, which remains to this day highly topical.
‘Big Comet 3°-60° Sky-Land-Sky’ (1973) by Dutch conceptual artist Jan Dibbets (b. 1941) is an arc-shaped construction made from photographic prints of the horizon. This is the largest work ever made by the artist and the only one of its kind not in a museum collection. On Friday, June 16 from 3pm to 4pm curator Gianni Jetzer will moderate a panel discussion as part of the Conversations program. Focused on Unlimited and titled ‘Social Practice Changes’, the panel will feature the artists Carlos Garaicoa and Sue Williamson. A limited-edition catalog, published by Hatje Cantz, will accompany Unlimited, including descriptive texts and images of each artwork. The catalog is for sale at the show as well as in bookshops.