Basel Blörb #2 by Karim Crippa

by Karim Crippa

“The game is on” I thought as I was shoved down the stairs of Liste, sweating through my sportswear. Art Basel’s satellite fair was the first thing I saw upon arriving; unusually high temperatures and large crowds made navigating the twisted building in which it takes place into a rather athletic affair, by which I mostly mean too much unwanted contact with moist, slippery bodies, like in an unrefrigerated fish market. If Liste serves as a trend indicator, then here’s what I take from it: abstract painting is gone, anything larger than 60x40cm can’t possibly be sold anymore, and the puffy sleeve has replaced the architectural white blouse as the #1 power dressing element in female gallerists’ wardrobes. In terms of art, what I mostly remember of it is a series of sharp, humorous and slightly sexy works by Julien Ceccaldi at Jenny’s; thoughtful abstract material combinations by Gizela Mickiewicz at Stereo; Samara Scott’s walls of scintillating trash at The Sunday Painter and an understated, somber painting on velvet of some clunky necklace by Issy Wood at Carlos Ishikawa that I can’t get out of my head. Because of the sauna-like conditions, I fled after two hours, unsure whether I’d given the whole thing enough of a chance; my by now almost entirely damp t-shirt seemed to say be saying yes.

The VIP opening of Art Basel Unlimited was the next event I attended, and what I liked the most about it was the free champagne an getting to chat with performers Eva & Adele, which says enough about how much I’d been eyerolling at the art on view. While some works inevitably would make even the least emotional person in the world clutch their pearls (that’s part of the show’s appeal), I couldn’t help but notice that once again, the disparity between male and female artists was huge, which somehow pissed me off; to my surprise and irritation, it didn’t seem to bother most of the people with whom I talked about it. So instead of staying longer and mingling with women wearing my yearly salary as a palazzo pant, I poured down 3 glasses of bubbles, got drunk and left to buy a fresh t-shirt at H&M, the one I was wearing having become unusable.

I came back to jump into a fountain of hipsterdom at the opening of the Swiss Art Awards, where everyone with a post-vetements conception of fashion was hiding. The art on view was as usual good – to name only two, Anne Hildbrand’s stern photographs and Yves Scherer’s bubblegum-colored sculpture of Legolas make the trip to Halle 3 worth it. after too many beers and the inevitable stop at McDonald’s, I ended up escaping once again – this time from the Liste party at Volkshaus, where art world people’s inability to dance was once again showcased marvellously: mostly I saw limbs forming wrong angles and arrhythmic stomping to some bollywood-meets-trap medley. Basel really can be entertaining.