Basel Roundup
              Ingo Niermann
              Next year, Art Basel turns 50, and animals are still not allowed. There’s not even a “Pets Lounge,” as there is for kids, even though the fair’s premises are big enough to host a whole circus. Art Basel was founded in 1970, a year before Swiss women gained suffrage. Women were allowed in the fair from the very beginning, but animals will probably have to achieve parliamentary representation before the fair will welcome them. While male collectors of visual art have long been fine with consulting their wives and mistresses, they tend to ignore the taste of their pets. Probably not because they give women’s taste on visual art more importance but because it allows them to bond in placid, post-sexual ways. Sounds boring? That’s what non-humans must think about visual art. Entertainment needs surprise and trust needs solidity. Visual art tries to combine both: to make a joke that works forever. All arts are polluted by this uncanny ambition, but only visual art confronts us as a permanent physical manifestation. In that sense, it shares similar traits with nationalism. Both intend to eternally occupy Earth’s limited space. Nationalism has caused far more casualties and suffering, because artworks can’t fight …
              Art Basel roundup
              Laura McLean-Ferris
              Jeff Koons’s giant blue egg sculpture—that outlandishly chatoyant and seductive object—looks as though it could have landed from another planet or another time. Its cracked top serves as a reminder of the way that Koons created a fundamental fracture within art history with his compelling work, and I was reminded of the artist’s monumental impact as I visited his exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler coinciding with the Art Basel fair, partly because it informed nearly everything I saw subsequently. The very first work in the show is the utterly eerie The New Jeff Koons (1980), a lightbox displaying an image of the artist as a young boy posing with crayons and a coloring book like the perfect child, his expression every bit the airy adult Jeff we have come to know: clear-eyed, polite and unnervingly serene, with his “how may I help you” smile. This image serves as an introduction to the artist’s brilliant Hoover sculptures and shampoo polishers in Plexiglas cubes, which revel in the purity of their box-fresh newness and aspirational product names—Celebrity and so forth, and assisted by Koons’s presentation and uncanny doublings. These, now more than thirty years old, are nothing short of visionary. They seem …
              Art Basel roundup
              Vivian Sky Rehberg
              One hears a lot of grumbling about Art Basel. Or maybe it’s just the leftist company I keep. Still, I was surprised to meet more than a few people who had travelled all the way to Basel for reasons peripherally related to the fair but who had refused to step foot in it, according to the misguided “principle” that blinding oneself to the commerce of art is proof of genuine anti-capitalist credentials. Whatever happened to “know thine enemy”? And is the fair really the enemy? Well, historical materialists like me don’t believe in fairy tales and—guess what?—ignoring the art market does not make it go away. My choreographed wander through the behemoth Hall 2 was exhausting, terribly instructive and, in some cases, more aesthetically gratifying than many of the exhibitions I’ve recently seen in non-profit institutions. Worth the trip alone: Isabella Bortolozzi’s stand, especially Carol Rama’s Movimento e Immobilita’ di Birnam (1977) with its limp bouquet of flaccid black rubber bicycle tire tubes, visually spare yet enticing. In an entirely different register, at Air de Paris, I didn’t know how to quit Dorothy Iannone’s Brokeback Mountain (2010), a brightly painted freestanding object, like a miniature altar, featuring portraits of the characters …

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