Art Basel: Influential Messages

Art Basel: Influential Messages

Returning for 2018, Art Basel brings together 290 leading galleries to exhibit a diverse selection of contemporary works over four days. This year’s photography selection includes key voices, raising awareness of ongoing social, political and ecological questions including migration, gender inequality and notions of post-truth.

Featured artists include James Casebere (b. 1953), featured in Aesthetica Issue 71, who is represented by Galería Helga de Alvear, Madrid, and Sean Kelly, New York. The artist is renowned for a pioneering use of illusionistic models, meticulously assembled by hand. The bold, structural compositions blur the lines between truth and fiction, referencing existing buildings and contemporary culture. The unpopulated scenes evoke an uncanny feel, offering reflection on an increasingly fictitious landscape.

A similar surreal aesthetic is offered by Viviane Sassen (b. 1972), exhibiting with Stevenson, Cape Town. Vibrant colours combine with abstract shapes and complex shadows, bridging the gap between fine art and contemporary fashion. The hyperreal meets the natural in the work of Shirana Shahbazi, Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich. Encouraging ecological consciousness, David Goldblatt (b. 1930) of Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, critically assesses the impact of asbestos mining on South Africa’s landscapes.

This socially responsive element runs throughout this year’s selection, as Stevenson presents work by visual artist and activist Zanele Muholi (b. 1972). The practitioner’s ongoing projects contribute to a vital interrogation of race and representation. Using self portraiture to document and respond to the injustices in everyday life and across the world, Muholi offers a bold, evocative declaration of identity.

In a similar way to Muholi, Shirin Neshat’s (b. 1957) Tooba Series, presented by Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, foregrounds the experiences of women in traditionally male-dominated societies. Comparably, Ai Weiwei’s (b. 1957) 2017 film, Human Flow, further raises awareness of underrepresented communities. The piece, screening as part of Lisson Gallery’s collection, took the world-renowned artist across 23 countries, and documents the global issue of migration through individual and collective stories.

Art Basel runs from 14-17 June. Find out more here.

1. James Casebere, Courtyard with Orange Wall, 2017. Courtesy Galería Helga de Alvear.