By Tajudeen Sowole
From June 18-21, 2015, art connoisseurs, curators and others in the management of creative contents from Africa and the Diaspora will join their counterparts across the world at 46th Art Basel, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S., for a discussion on contemporary art. Among the participants is one of Africa's leading collectors, Prince Yemisi Shyllon, who is the founder of Lagos-based Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF).
The gathering, according to the organisers, features 284 leading galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa, which will show over 4,000 works of artists across modern and contemporary masters as well as emerging artists from 33 countries.
The opening starts with a central discussion about building new art institutions in Africa. It features Marie-Cécile Zinsou, President of Benin's Fondation Zinsou; Touria El Glaoui, Founder of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair; Koyo Kouoh, Founding Artistic Director of RAW Material; Mark Coetzee, Director and Chief Curator of Cape Town's Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, and Raphael Chikukwa, Chief Curator of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. On the Day-2 of the event, discussion is expected to feature Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Curator and Director of SAVVY Contemporary; Moataz Nasr, Artist and Founder of Cairo's Darb 1718 Contemporary Art & Culture Center; and Chris Dercon, Director of Tate Modern — moderated by French curator Simon Njami. A following program considers art collecting in Africa, with the collectors Shyllon and Bruce Campbell Smith of Cape Town, moderated by Bomi Odufunade.
Showing at the galleries section of Art Basel are 223 stands, which the organisers describe as "the world's leading galleries of modern and contemporary art." Such galleries include Kicken Berlin (Berlin) with seminal photography from East and West Germany from the 1970s -1980s, documenting a scintillating era that was both unsettling and full of promise; Barbara Mathes (New York City) featuring work by John Baldessari and a sculpture by Giulio Paolini; Almine Rech’s (Paris) exhibition about the use of flower with works by Pablo Picasso, Richard Prince, Christopher Wool, and Ugo Rondinone; and Blum & Poe (Los Angeles, Tokyo) with work by Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, and a host of Los Angeles-based artists.
Other segments at the 46th Art Basel include Feature, dedicated to 30 precisely curated projects for both solo presentations by an individual artist with thematic exhibitions. Expanded across both exhibition floors, Features includes six galleries that are new to the show. Highlights of the segment include Tokyo Gallery +BTAP (Tokyo, Beijing) with a thematic show on the avant-garde Mono-ha movement in Japan from the late 1960s; Galerie Frank Elbaz (Paris) with work by Mladen Stilinović, leading New Art Practice artist in Croatia; and Susan Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects (Culver City) with an installation of drawings by Andrea Bowers examining the social implications of a high profile rape case. New exhibitors include Braverman Gallery (Tel Aviv); Grieder Contemporary (Zurich); LEVY Galerie (Hamburg); Salon 94 (New York); Tokyo Gallery + BTAP (Tokyo, Beijing); and Tornabuoni Art (Paris, Florence, Milan, Forte de Marmi, Portofino).
Another segments is Statements, which features new solo projects by young and emerging artists presented through 16 galleries, of which half are completely new to the show. Highlights include The Third Line (Dubai’s) plant taxonomy-based installation by Abbas Akhavan; James Fuentes (New York)'s a multi-media installation by Amalia Ulman; Wallspace (New York) with a presentation of Nancy Lupo’s installation exploring relationships between food and marketing. New exhibitors include Marcelle Alix (Paris); James Fuentes (New York); Grey Noise (Dubai); Hannah Hoffman Gallery (Los Angeles); JTT (New York); Platform China (Beijing, Hong Kong); Galerie Gregor Staiger (Zurich); and Wallspace (New York).
Also on the list is Edition, a section that features 15 leading publishers of editioned works, prints and multiples exhibiting the results of their collaboration with renowned artists.
With an installation of large scale works, curated for the fourth year by Gianni Jetzer, the Unlimited section will take center stage at Art Basel. For the 46th edition, Unlimited will feature 74 ambitious works from large-scale sculptures and paintings to video projections, installations and live performances. Among projects in the sector are Ai Weiwei's "Stacked" (2012), created out of 760 bicycles; OPAVIVRA!'s "Formosa Decelerator" (2014), an interactive installation within hammocks and self-blended tea; and Hector Zamora's installation of suspended parachutes, challenging the limits of gravity and commenting on political structures. Additional artists in Unlimited include Martin Creed, Olafur Eliasson, Zhang Enli, Dan Flavin, Gilbert & George, Shilpa Gupta, Jeppe Hein, Jannis Kounellis, Ryan McGinley, Bruce Nauman, Roman Ondák, Pedro Reyes, and Lorna Simpson.
Other highlights include Film, Parcours, Conversations and Salon. Curated for the first time by Cairo-based film curator and lecturer Maxa Zoller, the Film section of this year’s program includes Takashi Murakami’s first feature film ‘Jellyfish Eyes’ and Hassan Hajjaj’s new film ‘Karima: A Day in the Life of a Henna Girl’. The program will present the long-awaited European premier of 'Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict ', an insight into the life of Peggy Guggenheim by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, selected for the program by film connoisseur This Brunner. In addition, Art Basel will collaborate for the first time with the Festival del film Locarno on a special screening.
Making its third consecutive year, Parcour, curated by Florence Derieux, Director of FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, it features 23 site-specific works installed in the historic center of Basel around the city’s iconic cathedral, infiltrating key locations such as the Museum of Culture, the Natural History Museum, the Town Hall and the Münsterplatz itself. Artworks are by international renowned as well as emerging artists.