Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Art on the margin

Parallel to the main Art Basel, there were several smaller shows happening in the city. Design Miami/ Basel, showcasing 20th and 21st century design, was one of the prestigious ones. It was not as massive as the Milan fair, but it still had quite a few interesting things.
Design Miami/ Basel at Messe Hall 5, with Nacho Carbonell's outdoor pieces Playground Closes at Dusk
The Aranda\Lasch designed "scattered" floor layout

Jean Prouvé seemed to be the superstar this year. Both Jousse Entreprise and Galerie Patrick Seguin dedicated their booths to his work, not mentioning the chairs and tables scattered around in the hall.
Jean Prouvé at Jousse Entreprise booth
Galerie Patrick Seguin constantly assembles and dissembles Jean Prouvé's 6x6m demountable house

I spotted this chandelier I saw before as a wall installation at the "Dead or Alive" exhibition in New York. Ralph Nauta & Lonneke Gordijn of DRIFT gathered dandelions, removed the puffs and then painstakingly glued them back seed by seed to a constellation of LED lights.
DRIFT, Fragile Future 3 Chandelier, 2010

As one of the winners of the "Designers of the Future Award," London-based architect-designer Asif Khan devised an archetypal space with helium gas, water and soap. Soap bubbles slowly rose into the air, floating upward and eventually caught by a fish net stretched across the ceiling.
Asif Khan, Cloud, 2011

The most impressive work at Design Miami/ Basel was the Luciferase series by Spanish artist Nacho Carbonell. Considered as "light-producing creatures," the pieces took inspiration from flora and fauna living in abysses, with their extraordinary colors, textures, and gesture. The effects were beautiful, resembling the seductive sparkling quality of amethyst, quartz, and malachite.
Nacho Carbonell, Luciferase series, 2011

Other concurrent shows, including Scope and Liste, provided venues for emerging galleries and artists who were "too young to get into the main fair." Perhaps these shows were simply smaller so that the art could get more attention. I felt I saw a higher concentration of talents here, with fresh insights and more innovative techniques.
Scope 11 at Kaserne
Liste 16 at Werkram Warteck pp

Patrick Cornillet's oil paintings of isolated building elements, Andrew Rogers' land art, Alex and John Gailla's red nylon wire sculptures, and Samsul Arifin's installation with ricesack figures were among the nice things at Scope.
Patrick Cornillet, Structure
Andrew Rogers, Rhythms of Life: Shield, Kenya, 2010
Alexandre and John Gailla, Crucifixion (left); La Lutte (front)
Samsul Arifin, Goni's Voice, 2011

American artists Alex Schweder and Ward Shelley participated in Scope with their interesting performance piece. For the five days of the show, the two artists lived in a self-contained vertical living unit. Tied to either end of a single rope, the two had to depend on each other to move up and down their habitat, even to the kitchen and bathroom. With Schweder's architectural background (Pratt-Princeton), this artwork explored several architecture-related issues better than many "experimental" houses. It reexamined notions such as everyday domestic routine, modes of circulation, building-inhabitant interactions, and ultimately, interpersonal relationships.
Alex Schweder and Ward Shelley, Counterweight Roommate, 2011
Counterweight Roommate concept model

Digital technology is one of the trending issues in art today, especially among young artists. The "Principia" exhibition during the Milan Design Week put together some 3D-printed sculptures and a robot arm drawing portraits. This time at Scope in Basel, there was a machine painting in color pixels, very similar to the way drawings were made in the TV drama series Kyle XY.

Young Japanese artist Macoto Murayama used 3D modeling and graphic softwares to create inorganic flora in uncanny details, bringing the power of science and the fantasy of art together.
Macoto Murayama, Commelina communis L. - front - ow, 2011
Macoto Murayama, Commelina communis L. - side view - b2011

On the slightly less high-tech side, artists used computer graphic techniques to create surreal collages. They appropriated either masterpieces or familiar built environments and turned them into bizarre scenarios.
Lluis Barba, Santa Cena, Leonardo, 2009
Tom Leighton, Appropriation of Space: Venice 1, 2010
Jean-Francois Rauzier, Vestibule

Appropriation could lead to another characteristic of young art - humor. In Liste, I couldn't help laughing when I saw Romanian artist Ciprian Mureşan showing the probable result of Yves Klein's Leap into the Void, and a mock Calvin Klein advertisement by the Chinese group Double Fly.
Ciprian Mureşan, Leap into the Void, after 3 seconds, 2004
Double Fly Group, Brand Franchise, 2010

Swiss artist MARCK's work showed a good synthesis of technology and humor. His video art typically featured a woman (his life partner Sandra) in a metal box, seemingly trying to avoid a swaying sickle or finding her way between the screws. This direct confrontation with the Urangst would make us think about relations between the physical and the virtual, reality and imaginations.
MARCK, Dornen, 2009

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