Messe Basel
15 – 18 June 2017

This year’s edition of Unlimited will consist of 76 large-scale projects, presented by galleries participating in the fair. Curated for the sixth consecutive year by Gianni Jetzer, curator-at-large at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C., the sector will feature a wide range of presentations, from historically significant pieces to the latest contemporary works. Renowned as well as emerging artists will participate, including: Doug Aitken, Carl Andre, John Baldessari, Andrea Bowers, Chris Burden, Julian Charrière and Julius von Bismarck, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Carlos Garaicoa, Subodh Gupta, Jenny Holzer, Donna Huanca, Arthur Jafa, Barbara Kruger, Cildo Meireles, Bruce Nauman, Park Chan-kyong, Marwan Rechmaoui, Mickalene Thomas and Anicka Yi. Art Basel, whose Lead Partner is UBS, takes place at Messe Basel from June 15 to June 18, 2017.

Presented across 16,000 square meters of exhibition space, Unlimited has provided galleries – since its introduction in 2000 – with a unique opportunity to showcase monumental sculptures, video projections, wall paintings, photographic series and performance art that transcend the traditional art-fair stand.

In ‘Cooking the World I’ (2017) Subodh Gupta (b. 1964) recreates a shelter made entirely from aluminum utensils, in which he carries out a cooking and eating performance, commemorating these ritualistic practices. Also incorporating performance, ‘BLISS (REALITY CHECK)’ (2017) by Donna Huanca (b. 1980) is an elaborate installation comprised of a tableaux vivant of props, painterly elements and actors, designed to suspend the viewer between the role of a passive onlooker and an active performer. ‘Underwater Pavilions’ (2017) by Doug Aitken (b. 1968) is a video installation that explores three mirror sculptures moored to the ocean floor near California, physically connecting viewers to the expanse of the ocean. ‘Messages from the Atlantic Passage’ (2017) by Sue Williamson (b. 1941) confronts the viewer with a large-scale installation in which five rope fishing nets are suspended from the ceiling, filled with engraved glass bottles, each inscribed with a slave name, country of origin and further details, representing the 12.5 million African individuals who were shipped to the New World between 1525 and 1866. ‘Saving The Safe’ (2017) by Cuban artist Carlos Garaicoa (b. 1967) aims to address the financial realm and the tensions it has caused in the last years. The symbolic and powerful image of the bank is reproduced in a series of golden sculptures in tiny scale, with each miniature installed separately inside the safe box of a real bank.

Other highlights include the last work made by Chris Burden (1946-2015), ‘Ode to Santos Dumont’ (2015), an operational airship, which explores Burden’s childhood ambition of building functioning machines and is inspired by Alberto Santos-Dumont’s 20th century innovations in aviation. This will be the first time the work will be shown outside of the United States. ‘A Pilgrimage To Noah Purifoy’s Desert Art Museum’ (2016), the most recent work by LaToya Ruby Frazier (b. 1982), is comprised of thirteen prints and documents the site of the artist Noah Purifoy’s former home and the disintegration of his sculptures in the harsh desert elements, where he spent the last 15 years of his life. Arthur Jafa’s (b. 1960) extensive and sustained research into black culture and his theorization of a black aesthetic have led him to produce ‘Apex’ (2013), an eight-minute single channel work comprised of hundreds of images that flash momentarily before the viewers’ eyes in quick succession.

‘Leck’ (2012/2015) by artist duo FORT (est. 2008, consisting of Alberta Niemann (b. 1982) and Jenny Kropp (b. 1978) recreates a complete shop interior of the former chemist chain Schlecker, which went bankrupt in 2012. By extracting the objects from their everyday context, the artists bring their sculptural aspects to the fore. ‘Skype Sweater’ (2010-2017), a seminal early installation by Anicka Yi (b. 1971), consists of three sculptural elements displayed on pedestals, all unified by a billowing parachute. The materials and the methodologies used in this piece have proven to be the blueprints for her practice in the intervening years.

Offering a glimpse into the effects of war, ‘Citizen’s Forest’ (2016) by Park Chan-kyong (b. 1965) invites the audience to walk through an installation of video and sound, illustrating a ghostly procession of the Korean War victims. Israeli artist Michal Rovner’s (b. 1957) most recent film installation ‘Anubis’ (2016), filmed using night-vision, is reminiscent of military surveillance footage, dramatizing the innocent scenes and the animals she documents in rural Israel. ‘Blazon’ (2015) by Lebanese artist Marwan Rechmaoui (b. 1964) is a fabric installation seeking to deconstruct the physical and socio-political division of neighborhoods and districts in Beirut. Donald Moffett’s (b. 1955) ‘IMPEACH’ (2006) is an immersive sound work composed of ten alternating audio speakers resounding the powerful speech of Democratic Congressman John Lewis of Georgia as he defended President Bill Clinton during his impeachment hearings in 1998. ‘Untitled (Our people are better than your people)’ (1994/2016) by Barbara Kruger (b. 1945) – first shown as part of the ‘World Morality’ show at Kunsthalle Basel in 1994 – uses language to thematize the powerful influence exercised upon human identity by the media and politics, which remains to this day highly topical.

Historical works are also featured in Unlimited, including ‘Movie Mural’ (1965-68) by one of the pioneers of multimedia art Stan VanDerBeek (1927-1984). This immersive multimedia installation revisits and re-evaluates the artist’s infamous ‘Movie-Drone’ (1963-65). ‘Mutations I. Düsseldorf, Primary Demonstration: 112 Gestures of the Upper Body’ (1970) by Klaus Rinke (b. 1939) counts among the key works in performance and action art in Europe. The work, consisting of 112 vintage black-and-white photographs, reveals gestures through various hand and arm positions, thereby creating a new vocabulary of body language. Additional artworks created in the 1970s include ‘Shuttle’ (1975), a free-floating multi-panel kite painting by British painter Richard Smith (1931-2016) and ‘Pentrável Macaléia’ (1978) by Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica (1937-1980), an interactive installation composed of a painted metal grid structure accompanied by natural elements, designed to leave the viewer feeling either confined or liberated within the space. ‘Big Comet 3°-60°, Sky-Land-Sky’ (1973) by Dutch conceptual artist Jan Dibbets (b. 1941) is an arc-shaped construction made from photographic prints of the horizon. This is the largest work ever made by the artist and the only one of its kind not in a museum collection.

On Friday, June 16 from 3pm to 4pm curator Gianni Jetzer will moderate a panel discussion as part of the Conversations program. Focused on Unlimited and titled ‘Social Practice Changes’, the panel will feature the artists Carlos Garaicoa and Sue Williamson.

A limited-edition catalog, published by Hatje Cantz, will accompany Unlimited, including descriptive texts and images of each artwork. The catalog is for sale at the show as well as in bookshops. Cost: CHF 60.