Art Basel Unlimited 2023

Text and Photos: Cordelia Kapfer

Art Basel Unlimited 2023, part of the larger Art Basel event in Switzerland, provided an impressive platform for artists to present large-scale sculptures, paintings, video projections, installations and live performances that went beyond the traditional art fair booth. This year, Art Basel Unlimited curated a series of ambitious projects with artists such as Thomas Scheibitz, Gerhard Richter, Selma Selman, Ugo Rondinone, Alex Da Corte and Conny Maier, among others, whose works were highlighted in a dedicated space that allowed for the exploration of art beyond conventional boundaries.

Moon Kyungwon & Jeon Joonho, News from Nowhere/ Eclipse (2022–23).
Art Basel Unlimited 2023, Photo©Cordelia Kapfer

The art fair hosted a variety of engaging artworks, including Olaf Nicolai’s „Ménage de la maison“ (2022), a performance that invited visitors to become more attuned to their surroundings through actions of sweeping while speaking, humming or singing, presented by Galerie Eigen + Art. Khalil Rabah’s „Relocation, Among Other Things“ (2018), presented by Sfeir-Semler Gallery, consisted of assemblages exploring themes of nomadism and life suspended between different countries. Firelei Báez’s work, part of an ongoing series reimagining the archaeological ruins of the San-Souci Palace in northern Haiti, showcased the vast ocean of all possibilities, highlighting the artist’s exploration of cultural and historical narratives. n addition, Carlos Cruz-Diez’s ‚Environnement Chromointerférent (Paris)‘ (1974) created an immersive environment with projections in constant motion, challenging the perception of colour.

Khalil Rabah, Relocation, Among Other Things, Sfeir-Semler Gallery,
Art Basel 2023 ©Cordelia Kapfer

These works, among others to be presented at Art Basel Unlimited 2023, exemplify the event’s commitment to showcasing innovative and boundary-pushing projects and providing a platform for artists to engage audiences in new and meaningful ways. The diversity and breadth of the works presented underscore the importance of Art Basel Unlimited as a vital component of the global contemporary art scene.

Ugo Rondinone, humanskysix (2022). Polyurethane, paint. 83 x 179 x 119 cm. Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich / Vienna. Photo©Cordelia Kapfer

Art Basel Unlimited 2023 offered a remarkable platform for showcasing groundbreaking works. The event featured 76 large-scale installations, performances, and artworks by both established and emerging artists, curated by Giovanni Carmine, director of the Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen in Switzerland. It served as a unique space within the fair, allowing artists to present ambitious projects that transcend traditional exhibition formats. The sector is known for its focus on art works that challenge and expand traditional narratives, offering an increasingly wide range of artistic positions​​.

Thomas Scheibitz, Speicher, Tender, Paradies. Art Basel Unlimited 2023@Cordelia Kapfer

Thomas Scheibitz, one of the artists featured, has made significant contributions to the contemporary art scene since the early 1990s. Born in 1968 in Radeberg, Germany, Scheibitz’s work navigates the boundaries between figuration and abstraction. His practice involves the use of large blocks of colour, sharp lines, and the layering of objects to play with perception, depth, and three-dimensionality, alluding to Cubist traditions while incorporating everyday objects. Scheibitz has exhibited worldwide, including solo shows at prestigious institutions, and was the youngest artist to represent Germany at the 2005 Venice Biennale. His work for Art Basel Unlimited is likely to continue his exploration of these themes, contributing to the event’s rich selection of innovative art.

Alex Da Corte, Béarla Féne (2023). Art Basel Unlimited 2023©Cordelia Kapfer

Art Basel 2023 was a comprehensive event with 284 of the world’s leading galleries, and for the first time in Basel, the Kabinett sector was introduced. This sector allowed for themed presentations within the galleries‘ main stands, offering deeper insights into artists‘ practices. Alongside Unlimited, Art Basel also hosted Parcours, which featured 24 site-specific public art installations around Basel, as well as a series of Conversations and a film programme open to the public. These components underscored Art Basel’s commitment to dynamic public programming and to transforming Basel’s public spaces into a vibrant art exhibition.

Radcliffe Bailey, Jack Shaiman Gallery at Art Basel Unlimited 2003, Photo©Cordelia Kapfer

Radcliffe Bailey (1968-2023) – presented by Jack Shaiman Gallery – was a painter, sculptor and mixed media artist who used the layering of imagery, culturally resonant materials and text to explore themes of ancestry, race, migration and collective memory. His work often incorporated found materials and objects from his past into textured compositions, including traditional African sculpture, tintypes of his family members, ships, train tracks and Georgia red clay. The cultural significance and rhythmic properties of music were also important influences that can be seen throughout his oeuvre.

Steven Shearer, Sideshow Rigmarole (2020). Art Basel Unlimited 2023, Photo©Cordelia Kapfer

Steven Shearer’s Sideshow Rigmarole – presented by Eva Presenhuber Galerie – delved into the complexities of the human experience, offering a thought-provoking exploration of identity and emotion. Shearer’s photographs invited viewers to confront the fragility of life and the intricate pattern of human existence.

Serge Attukwei Clottey, Sea Never Dries (2022).
Art Basel 2023 Unlimited, Photo©Cordelia Kapfer

Together, these artists contributed to the immersive and dynamic landscape of Art Basel Unlimited 2023, showcasing the diversity and richness of contemporary art. The exhibition was a celebration of artistic innovation, pushing the boundaries of conventional media and inviting viewers to engage with the profound narratives woven by these visionary creators. Art Basel Unlimited 2023 reaffirmed its status as a global beacon for cutting-edge artistic exploration and a platform for celebrating the limitless potential of creativity.

Jason Rhoades, Topa (2005). Art Basel Unlimited 2023, Photo©Cordelia Kapfer

The following article, „Women Artists at Art Basel Unlimited 2023“, is dedicated to the diverse and dynamic contributions of female artists to the global art scene that will be presented at Art Basel Unlimited 2023. The work of women artists such as these not only addresses critical issues of our time, but also pushes the boundaries of artistic expression and the possibilities of large-scale installation.

Kaloki Nyamai, Dining in Chaos (2023). Art Basel Unlimited 2023, Photo©M.Kapfer