Inside Art Basel’s Unlimited Show 2023

Unlimited is Art Basel’s pioneering exhibition platform for projects that transcend the classical art fair stand, including large-scale sculptures and paintings, video projections, installations, and live performances. This year, 76 projects have been selected by the Art Basel Selection Committee, and curated by Giovanni Carmine, who has done excellent work and has given space to works that not only represent messages of meaningful topics like climate change and sustainability but also diversity, fun, lightheartedness which we all want more of in recent times. For the most part, these projects are being shown for the first time at Art Basel.

Here are some highlights:

Environnement Chromointerférent, Paris 1974/2018, Carlos Cruz-Diez

Environnement Chromointerférent by Carlos CruzDiez is an immersive, participatory environment that reveals the changeable, ambiguous nature of color. The projection, which remains in constant motion, renders both the spectators and objects transparent as they virtually change shape. Viewers take on the dual role of ‘actors’ and ‘authors’ of this chromatic event that unfolds in real space and time. When staring at shadows on the walls, the spectator has the sensation of moving in the opposite direction to the lines of colors, resulting in a dialogue between the ‘variable’ of the chromatic interferences and the ‘constant’ of the shadows on the wall.

Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez (1923-2019) was a pioneer of contemporary art and renowned for his contributions to the theory of color. Cruz-Diez proposed color as an autonomous and evolving reality that takes place in space and time, without anecdotes or references, in a continuous present.

Doubt by Water 2003/2008, Roni Horn

Language is an integral part of Roni Horn’s practice, and the concept of ‘doubt’ reoccurs throughout her body of work. The artist states, ‘Questions gather around moments of doubt – that’s how you enter the work. Often nuances and subtle differences that verge on the imperceptible are enough to cast you in doubt, to catch you in a moment of hesitation; this infinitesimal pause is the place where engagement occurs.’ Horn culled the images for this installation from the extensive photographic archive she has built up over the years in relation to Iceland, a country in which Horn has lived and worked periodically since 1975. The 30 life-size stanchions that comprise Doubt by Water stand in clusters throughout the space, a meditation on perception, duality, and paradox, the fluidity of identity and its basis for endless variability.

New York artist Roni Horn (1955) consistently generates uncertainty to thwart closure in her work. Important throughout her oeuvre is a longstanding interest in the protean nature of identity, meaning, and perception, as well as the notion of doubling; themes that continue to propel Horn’s practice.

In Mika Tajima’s You Be My Body for Me, architectural configurations of freestanding panes of ‘smart glass’ surround and partially conceal a group of rose quartz sculptures. Stand-ins for figures, the sculptures titled Pranayama refer to the ancient practice of connecting the mind and body through the breath. The glass panes – which change opacity through electric charges in its surface – are activated by the presence of a viewer that is then mediated through an algorithm mapping connections in social media feeds. In social media, the body is already elsewhere and nowhere: a substitute, outside of itself, evacuated, altered, enhanced, and illusory. Here the body is elucidated through translucent reflections, humankind is placed in relationship to others and connected by unimaginable forms.

American artist Mika Tajima (1975) has a interdisciplinary practice that is based on profound investigations into the conditions of human agency and self-determinacy in built and virtual spaces.

Line, 2023, Arthur Simms

‘Redemption, both material and spiritual, is a central theme in my artistic practice. My sculptures are an amalgam of ideas, histories lived and studied, memories lost and imagined, and the physical presence of objects that confront the spectator in their space, asking to be recognized. The proposed sculpture Line references my unique journey as an artist. My improvisational works incorporate the by-products of our consumer culture – thrown-away furniture, tossed bottles, worn-out clothing, scrap metal, discarded junk mail – essentially, other people’s trash. In my process of transforming lowly materials into works that belie their humble origins, I perform a personal and unique kind of alchemy.’ – Arthur Simms (in collaboration with Karma)

Jamaican artist Arthur Simms (1961) creates assemblages of found and natural materials that combine art history with personal cosmologies. His practice often incorporates wheels, bottles, and binding techniques in order to communicate Simms’s ongoing interest in wideranging traditions.

TL; DR, 2019 – 2020, Ron Terada

TL; DR – internet shorthand for ‘too long; didn’t read’ – addresses the ways in which communication technology shapes information consumption, specifically highlighting the role of typography as a formal representation of power and truth-telling. Reproducing headlines from the technology news site The Verge in a font similar to The New York Times, Ron Terada recontextualizes daily missives in the perceived authority of a legacy publication. Part of a five-part project that began in 2016, TL; DR covers headlines from 2019 to early 2020, and their densely stacked canvases create a humorous, unsettling conceptual approach to history painting. Terada’s dense, salon-style installations paint a picture of contemporary life through forgotten microtrends, manufactured clickbait, and prophetic narratives still unfolding.

Canadian artist Ron Terada (1969) has developed a wide-ranging conceptual art practice over three decades that frequently makes use of textual appropriation to explore the circulation and consumption of information in popular, journalistic, and artistic contexts.

Čiurlionis Gym, 2023, Augustas Serapinas

In Čiurlionis Gym, DIY gym equipment is placed on a square blue carpet where workout sessions take place several times a day. The installation is based on the artist’s own experience at the National M.K. Čiurlionis School of Art in Lithuania. Augustas Serapinas’s education was largely based on the development of technical skills such as drawing, sculpting, and painting through copying nature and making plaster copies of ancient Greek sculptures. For Čiurlionis Gym, he goes back to his school archives to make copies of his own works and plaster models, which he then uses in a fully functioning gym. The work questions the premises of an art education based on copying by comparing it to the gym workout – both of which are based on repetitive actions and hard work. (in collaboration with Apalazzo).

Vilnius born artist Augustas Serapinas (1990) tells stories of places, people, and site-specific memories in his installations. His work is characterized by a spontaneous and above all intense engagement with his immediate surroundings.

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