Basel Blörb #5 by Karim Crippa

On Thursday, I took a break from the cavernous halls of Art Basel and started my day visiting what turned out to be a great group show at Kunsthalle, titled “Ungestalt”. Superb works by the likes of Michaela Eichwald, Pakui Hardware and Olga Balema proved once again that museum is worth every second you spend in it. Also kudos to whomever picked graphic design duo HAMMER to layout the poster, which is as good as the show itself. Parcours, Art Basel’s outdoorsy section, was next. The inevitable Ai Weiwei tree adorning the middle of Münsterplatz was easily eclipsed by Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg’s libidinous installation, where cute puppets engaged in sleazy acts of affection and aggression, both statically on a central plinth and in the artists’ signature claymation videos. This fantastic piece would’ve worked perfectly as the last thing to lay my eyes upon before travelling back to Vienna, but plagued by fomo, I craved more: I went back to Liste, which felt like Basel’s largest sauna, to see what I’d missed on preview day; gave a closer look to the Swiss Design Awards exhibition and fell in love with Erwan Frotin’s photographs and Mikael Vilchez’s sportswear; browsed through many great books & zines at the I never read art book fair, positively surprised by the faith so many still seem to have in paper and ink; and finally went to enjoy 3 openings and two delicious sausages at SALTS with likeminded lovers of good emerging art & strategically understated garments (so many half-ironic caps, presence included). This was almost it; I had only one more thing to see in order to round up my Helvetic tribulations. So this Friday morning I found myself at Fondation Beyeler in front of Wolfgang Tilmans’ photographs, quivering like the sexually confused teenager I used to be when I first discovered him. To crown the whole experience, I plunged in the refreshing waters of Naturbad Riehen, a public pool surrounded by reed and designed by none other than Herzog & de Meuron, who might eventually end up designing the city’s toilet brushes, given their restless quest for aesthetic hegemony in the area. While typing this in a train on my way home, I’ve been trying to figure out the unique nature of the Art Basel week. Is it a business trip? Is it a holiday? Is it the ultimate location to do research for a book named “How to get completely broke within five days without noticing you’re actually spending money”? Is it a backdrop for an epic drama that includes manipulated collectors, backstabbing among artists and secret affairs between the directors of feuding galleries? I’m not quite sure to be honest. I’l have to figure it out next year. So long!