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Art world moves in on the laid-back Balearic islands
June 13, 2023
Art Basel gossip: Emmanuel Perrotin gives us the silent treatment, Laure Prouvost’s watery work and gallerists don their bathers
June 13, 2023

Choosing the highlights from the 76 large-scale works that make up Art Basel’s Unlimited section is “particularly difficult this year”, says the curator Giovanni Carmine, “because I think we have amazing pieces”. It helps that this is the first year since Carmine was appointed in 2019 that has been free from Covid-related logistical complications.

Rather than being defined by a theme, Unlimited’s power lies in the freewheeling mixture it offers, he says—for instance, between the Minimalist sculpture of Land art pioneer Nancy Holt and a performative installation by the emerging artist Augustas Serapinas. Above all, Unlimited is a place of artistic contrasts that “generate tension, dynamism and a kind of dramaturgy”, Carmine says. “It’s also what makes this platform interesting for a curator.”

Lubaina Himid, A Fashionable Marriage (1986), Hollybush Gardens

Lubaina Himid

A Fashionable Marriage (1986),Hollybush Gardens

“This is an historical piece from 1986, which was visionary at that time, dealing with art history, starting from a Hogarth painting and reshaping it, reforming it, putting a Black woman in the centre of it. Lubaina Himid was also dealing with Thatcherism, what was going on in England in the middle of the 1980s. It looks like a theatre set, but it’s also full of details if you go closer and read what’s written in the newspaper clips, with references to art history, gender, but also Margaret Thatcher. There’s anger in it; it’s an amazing piece.”

Yinka Shonibare, The African Library (2018), Goodman Gallery

Yinka Shonibare

The African Library (2018),Goodman Gallery

“This piece starts a reflection on who are the most important figures for the African continent, with the names on the sides of the books. It’s a kind of monument of rewriting history. Of course, not all of the books are named because this history still has to be written. Some figures we know, like Patrice Lumumba or Nelson Mandela, but others are less known to the European public. It’s important to discover these personalities, to rewrite history in a more equal way and think about colonialism.”

Yuki Kimura, COL SPORCAR SI TROVA (2022), Taka Ishii Gallery, Galerie Chantal Crousel

Yuki Kimura

COL SPORCAR SI TROVA (2022), Taka Ishii Gallery, Galerie Chantal Crousel

“We worked a lot with Kimura to find the right placement for this piece. All these objects on plinths are about reflection, so we needed to find the right space where other artworks are reflecting into it. Reflections are generated by natural materials like mother of pearl or by stainless steel or glass reflecting on vinegar. It’s a peculiar piece because we have monumental works here and this is rather quiet and poetic, with small things that could get lost with the mass of people coming and going through Unlimited. It’s interesting in this context to have a piece like this.”

Nancy Holt, Mirrors of Light I (1974), Sprüth Magers

Nancy Holt

Mirrors of Light I (1974), Sprüth Magers

“Nancy Holt is a very important Land artist. It’s great to have this historical piece from the 1970s, which is also something much quieter. It sums up all her thinking about space and light, and how they generate poetry on one hand but also generate meaning together. The precision means it was not an easy piece to install. In Unlimited, galleries can really show the works in the perfect conditions. Pieces like this one need particular care to be shown.”

Monica Bonvicini, Never Again (2005), Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Galerie Krinzinger, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

Monica Bonvicini

Never Again (2005), Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Galerie Krinzinger, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

“We all know Bonvicini’s work is about power, sexuality, architecture. I think this is a very representative piece; she often uses the sadomasochistic aesthetic with black leather and chains. I’ve followed her work for many years and I’m very happy to be able to show an important piece of hers after her retrospective in Berlin. This is an interactive work; people can sit on the chairs. Ideally you have to share—the swings are for two—so it’s also a piece about the interaction between human beings.”

Adam Pendleton, Toy Soldier (Notes on Robert E. Lee, Richmond, Virginia/Strobe) (2021-22), Pace

Adam Pendleton

Toy Soldier(Notes on Robert E. Lee, Richmond, Virginia/Strobe) (2021-22), Pace

“This is a very powerful Pendleton piece, not only because his aesthetic is at the top but also because it speaks of the topics that define his practice: Black community, reclaiming space. He’s a very formal artist and very precise in his work. Through editing, he has managed to erase and transform the monument of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, which was controversial in the southern states of the US. The film focuses on the image of this monument but, by projecting lights on it and cutting it, he gives the monument a totally new meaning.”

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