(The Prague post has been put on hold again. I’ll get round to it this weekend!)
Last night we went to Art Basel. Let me give you a little of the blurb before I sink my teeth into it:
Art 38 Basel takes place from June 13 – 17, 2007.
The international art show features about 300 leading art galleries from 30 countries on all continents. Art Basel is the world’s premier modern and contemporary art fair. 20th- and 21st-century art works by over 2’000 artists will be on display. 55’000 art collectors, art dealers, artists, curators and art lovers attend the annual meeting place of the art community.
We’d heard lots about this and so went to see for ourselves. The first hall was filled with what I would describe as “installations”. These were generally interesting and involved rooms of things and lighting and projectors and whatever you’re having yourself. One guy had filled an old BMW 3 series with water and then climbed in through the sun roof and (with the aid of an air supply) proceeded to sing from the car. I’m not sure this is art but it was funny to watch non the less. Other installations of note was one where a guy had written to various heads of state offering one of his own neck-ties in return for one of theirs. So the room contained framed ties, accompanied by the letters he had received from the heads of various countries around the world. He even asked the Pope and the Queen of England (both refused and returned his tie to him!). So overall, thought provoking, a little weird, often funny and generally interesting.
Then we moved to another hall where there were a lot of deals going on. All the “art” in this place was for sale and so each booth had what the company was offering and people sitting with laptops and looking important. This place did my head in. A few pieces of art on offer (for often ridiculous prices) included:
- Three planks of wood leaning against a wall?
- A top hat on a plinth?
- A wooden frame with some palster board on it and holes knocked through it?
- A mirror with some black paint dribbled down it and entitled “Stephanie checks her reflection”?
- The drawer from a school desk painted black and put on a plinth?
- A framed piece of A4 note paper with a triangle drawn on it?
- A picture frame, framing a hole in the wall (is the hole in the wall included in the price?)?
What bugs me about this is the fact that the people in these booths believe that you’re not a raving lunatic to fork out a few hundred/thousand Swiss Francs on three planks of wood. What also bugs me is the fact that there are raving loonies out there who will happily part with cash for three planks of wood when a quick trip down to B&Q and twenty quid will achieve the same effect. And that brings me to the last point.
If I turned up to the Tate modern in London with three planks of wood and called it “The supposition of spiritual enlightenment embodied in the social yearning of a disadvantaged glass blower’s left leg” and asked them to exhibit it, I’d get one look and then be beaten round the head with the three planks. What distinguishes the three planks I saw last night from anything anyone else can knock up?
I have to go sit down, my head hurts.