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June 28, 2017 - Comments Off on Architecture x Art at Basel in Basel

Architecture x Art at Basel in Basel

Architecture x Art at Basel in Basel

Photographed by: Laura Jaye

Housed in Herzog & de Meuron’s impressive exhibition hall, Art Basel boasts one of the largest art fairs in the world, ranging from the latest paintings, films, and sculptures, to live performances and interactive installations.

Exploring Art Basel with an architectural eye, I wanted to understand how the world of architecture and design interacts with the ever-changing art world. I expected to find a few scattered pieces that may, in a more abstract way, resemble an element of architecture, but I was completely surprised by the intersection between the two worlds. 291 galleries, 4,000 artists and 8 hours later, 3 installations caught my eye:

 

Cooking the World by Subodh Gupta

Cooking the World by Subodh Gupta

Located in the heart of the gallery, I found Subodh Gupta’s Cooking the World, to be the most striking architectural example on display. The artist used the universally identifiable ‘house’ structure to conjure up ‘the notion of gathering…’ but also recycled unusual building materials to create a familiar domestic space. From afar, the individually hung pots and pans gave the illusion of a solid and massive structure. When I moved closer, however, I looked through the gaps between the utensils into the interior to find a live performance of people sitting down for a meal. In this way, Gupta was able to not only construct an eye-catching exterior but create an intimate space within to connect the art of performance with the installation. While designing new spaces in the architecture world, it’s always important to create an atmosphere that is innovative but feels familiar and welcoming to all potential visitors.

 

Through the Wall by Song Dong

‘The installation is composed of salvaged door and window frames from houses in Beijing, many of which made up the historic Hutong neighborhoods that are increasingly being destroyed in favor of new construction.'

Song Dong’s Through the Wall installation is, in a more literal sense, a direct link between the world of art and architecture. I expected to enter the space of a typical 4-walled room but was completely taken aback by the different materials Dong used to convey the message of salvaging the past. It's common to discuss only new construction within the current architectural and design field, while the previous building or neighborhood disappears without notice. In this sense, Dong is bringing the conversation of architecture directly into the art world through his depiction of disappearing neighborhoods in Beijing.

 

Foresta Metallica / Metallic Forest by Paolo Icaro

Foresta Metallica / Metallic Forest by Paolo Icaro

‘...the borders between sculpture, architecture, and environment are blurred.'

Unlike most full-scale ‘architectural’ installations, Foresta Metallica / Metallic Forest was not prominently displayed, but tucked into a room with two narrow entrances on opposite ends. Once I entered the room, I had to step over and under beams, figure out different paths to navigate, and just stop to truly enjoy the space. There was no ‘goal’ or ‘get to the other side’ mentality to the piece, but simply to explore, observe and interact with the space as it was built.

In our everyday lives, it can be easy to forget that the spaces we live in have been purposefully designed for us to walk through and experience. Throughout Art Basel, I found it fascinating to see how artists from around the world with different backgrounds not only view architecture as an art form but how they use it to express their ideas of art. Their ideas give a new perspective to seeing architecture broken down into individual elements - windows, beams, pots, and pans - to then be recreated as a new idea of art and architecture.

Miami will host the next Art Basel event from December 7th-10th, 2017. For more information about the event, visit here.