Wednesday, June 21, 2006

DisneyLand for Art Nerds.

This past weekend my handsome French Boy hopped a train and headed to Basel Switzerland. Yes indeed we went for one thing and one thing only---Art Basel of course. Why the hell else would anyone go to Basel?

Art Basel is an International art show that features about 300 leading art galleries from 30 countries. It has long been considered the world's biggest & best modern and contemporary art fairs. Supposedly, works by over 2000 artists were shown this year. Every type of art you can imagine can be seen there from every corner of the earth. Tokyo, Australia, India, North America, East & Western Europe----everyone was there.

Each gallery or Museum brings work for sale from their stable or collection, and somehow manages to set it all up in a tiny cubicle like temporary gallery space. If you can try to imagine the entire collection of the Louvre being displayed in sectioned off, white cubicles in a 3 story Labyrinth you’ll pretty much get an idea of what it was like trying to navigate our way around in there. French Boy was in charge of navigation systems --with map and ink pen in hand. He spent all day saying: “no go right, then turn left. No, not that way!”

My favorite work was a great installation video piece by Barbara Kreuger. It was both funny and insightful. The lady knows her stuff & certainly deserves her “Art Big-Wig” status, which is much more than I can say for most of the video artists that were being shown this year.

For example, I spent about 2 minutes in a dark room watching the video piece (below) before I decided that although it may be art, watching a 20-something Chinese wanna-be-gangster smoke a cigar while shopping for fruit was not a narrative that was in any way relevant to my life.

But video art wasn't the only incomprehensible stuff being shown. In fact there was room after room of some pretty fun & playful installation and sculpture too. I especially liked the floating sculptures, the black-lit room, and the room where you could play & walk on card-board cut-outs! I had a great time. It was like Disney land for Art Nerds.

Davids favorite “What the F*ck” work was this piece by some artist whose name I chose to forget. Suitcases rotated on a turning airport luggage conveyor belt which was surrounded by gold spray painted luggage carts. Wow---so deep.

All complaining aside, we saw some absolutely brilliant paintings, a few fascinating prints, and some mind-boggling retarded sculptures. Like the one below, of a sleeping man with super long legs and arms in a room that had teeny tiny doors in the walls.

This one actually made a 4 year old kid start crying. She saw it and immediately ran crying back to her mother. It was just THAT bad.

We finished off our first day of art viewing with cocktails at the hotel bar while watching the Italy vs. USA world cup match. The bar was filled with French, Spanish, and German tourists all in town for Art Basel. Much to our surprise the entire bar was cheering for the US team. One middle-aged German woman kept leaping up and screaming “Nein, Nein!” every time the Italian team almost scored a goal. Indeed life is stranger than fiction.

Anyway, after 8 hours of non-stop art viewing I’ve just about got this whole “Art tourism” thing out of my system……well....almost.

Next stop: The Venice Biennial!


Jul said...

No other reason to go to Basel? Did you miss my witty and informative blog about our fun day there? Tinguely! Tapas! Beer super heros!

MadameK said...

Oh come on! You can do that stuff just about anywhere else in Europe.....for half the price.

Hell, I can do that right here in France---- AND I DONT EVEN HAVE TO CHANGE CURRENCIES.

Cree A. said...

I should read your blog more often. It usually makes me laugh, even if I just f*cked up another watercolor.

Jul said...

I'll believe you when you produce a photo of a French beer super hero, and not a minute before.

MadameK said...

If the French had ANY type of superhero it would be Monsieur Super-Complainer......but then again almost anyone in this country could qualify to wear that costume.