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Jul 21 2021

ART BASEL ATTEMPTS A COMEBACK DESPITE RAGING GLOBAL PANDEMIC

by Suining Sim

Installation view of Art Basel in Basel, 2019. Courtesy Art Basel.

On July 20, Art Basel announced the lineup for its 2021 edition at Messe Basel, scheduled for September 24–26. Featuring 273 galleries from 33 countries and territories, this will be the first in-person, city-wide art event in Basel since the pandemic began in early 2020. All visitors are required to “be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, provide a recent negative Covid-19 test, or be fully recovered,” according to the fair’s announcement.

The physical event will return in full form with its main Galleries sector, as well as solo and duo presentations in Features; Statements for emerging artists; Unlimited, which comprises large-scale installations; and Parcours, which showcases site-specific works across the city of Basel. As in previous editions, the Messeplatz outside the exhibition halls will host public art projects, this year by Monster Chetwynd and Cecilia Bengolea, with details yet to be announced.

For the overseas audience, the Basel edition will adopt the “hybrid format” of Art Basel Live, debuted earlier at Art Basel Hong Kong in May. The physical fair and events, including conversations and other programs, will be broadcast on its digital platforms. Additionally, online viewing rooms and virtual walkthroughs will “amplify the onsite presentations in Basel, transmitting the vibrancy and excitement from the show floor to the broadest possible global audience,” according to the announcement. For overseas participants, the fair will also include joint presentations and “satellite booths,” where international gallerists work with local representatives.  

Marc Spiegler, the global director of Art Basel, stressed the importance of holding an in-person show for the art market at large. “While the pandemic has been a time of resilience and innovation,” he said, “It has not always been one of discovery—patrons have often not been able to discover the work of new artists; likewise, galleries have not had ample opportunities to meet new collectors who can start to engage with and then later sustain their programs.”

On July 1, the World Health Organization announced a rise in Covid-19 cases in Europe for the first time in ten weeks, a trend that has continued as a result of summer travel and the resumption of large-scale events, coupled with the rapid spread of the more transmissible Delta variant.

Suining Sim is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

To read more of ArtAsiaPacific’s articles, visit our Digital Library.

 

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