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Crème de la crème and queer folk

Art Basel, one of the most important art fairs in the world, as much a part of the city as FC Basel and the Münster, brings the very best of contemporary art to town and is, both among locals and expats living here, probably as popular as Fasnacht.

Comment by Martin Pütter

Some scientists, even those who are completely uninterested in art, always know when Art Basel takes place. When they take water samples at the city’s treatment plants, these always show increased residues of cocaine and other recreational drugs. The “Olympiad of the art world”, as the British daily newspaper The Daily Telegraph once wrote, also has an influence on the nightlife here. “Art Basel is upon us. Parties and debauchery every night”, TBJ contributor Benjamin Spencer recently wrote on an invitation to events taking place during Art Basel. And Christian Rieder wrote in “Basel Insider News” that this art fair would attract all sorts of extravagant people to the city: those who would consider themselves as belonging to the avant-garde, as well as eccentrics and occasionally “queer folk”.

Now this week it is upon us again: on Thursday (18 June) Art Basel opens its doors to the public – and closes them this Sunday (21 June). For four days Basel will be the centre of the world of contemporary art. And it will also attract celebrities. Who has been here before? Listing them all here would take up far too much space. There have been Oscar winners, sports stars, glitterati, and and and…

It is also a fair that will particularly please the expats in the Basel area – at least as far as the fair’s website is concerned. Out of the many European languages available, the organisers have chosen just English for it – Switzerland’s official languages seem to have been ignored, a clear sign of the international outlook of Art Basel. On the other hand, it is also possible that expats will try to avoid the fair, just like many locals do. Maybe contemporary art is not their thing, or maybe they do not fancy paying the ticket prices to gain entry to the fair. It seems that the status of Art Basel is similar to that of Fasnacht: you either love it or loathe it there’s no middle way. But you cannot imagine Basel without it.

(Picture: ghost car, Manfred Kielnhofer)


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