Art Basel’s Conversations series presents stimulating panel discussions on topics concerning the global contemporary art scene. Prominent members of the international artworld – artists, gallerists, curators, collectors, architects, critics, and many other cultural figures – each offer unique perspectives on producing, collecting, and exhibiting art. Art Basel Miami Beach 2021 Conversations was programmed by Art Basel and Edward Winkleman, author and private dealer.

Art Basel in Miami Beach 2021 | Conversations Program, 1-4 December 2021

Premiere Artist: Jeffrey Gibson

Jeffrey Gibson, artist, Hudson, New York
Anne Ellegood, Good Works Executive Director, Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA LA), Los Angeles

Jeffrey Gibson speaks to Anne Ellegood, Director, ICA LA, about key moments in his career and upcoming projects.
Using song lyrics or punching bags, Jeffrey Gibson (b.1972, Colorado) recontextualizes the familiar to offer a succinct commentary on cultural hybridity and modernist strategies within contemporary art. Drawing influence from popular culture, critical theory as well as his own individual Cherokee and Choctaw heritage, his sculptures, beaded works and paintings seamlessly coalesce traditional Native American craft with contemporary cultural production. His work is a vibrant call for queer and Indigenous empowerment, envisioning a celebration of strength and joy within these communities.

Re-inventing the Institution? New Museum Leaders

Johanna Burton, Director, The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles
Isolde Brielmaier, Deputy Director, New Museum, NYC
Alison Gass, Director, The Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco (ICA SF)
Moderator: Andras Szanto

How to chart the future of an art museum while honoring or redressing its past, is a complex challenge for any museum leaders, but perhaps particularly delicate for newly appointed ones. New leadership brings opportunities to inject exciting ideas into an institution, albeit under the scrutiny of communities, trustees, staff and artists. In this panel, recent appointees to major institutions share how they approach these challenges, as well as how they view the evolving role of the museum director in these turbulent times.

Being Transparent: The Challenge of Pricing in the Art Market

Esther Kim Varet, Co-founder, Various Small Fires
Alexander Forbes, Head of Collector Services & Private Sales, Artsy
Heather Flow, Art Advisor and founder of Flow Advisory, New York
Moderator: Marion Maneker, Editorial Director of LiveArt

The lack of pricing transparency can be seen as a barrier for new collectors entering the field of art. Gallerists can argue on the other hand that discretion benefits both clients and artists. During the pandemic, online sales jumped considerably, and new perspectives on the question of pricing transparency have emerged. Does increased pricing transparency truly benefit both artists and collectors? Our panelist will explore the pros and cons of pricing transparency in today's increasingly hybrid art market.

21st Century Collectors: The Meeting of Tech and Art

Ethan Beard, Co-founder and CEO, Yoz, San Francisco
Sarah Wendell Sherrill, Co-Founder / Co-CEO, Lobus, San Francisco
Moderator: Tim Schneider, Art Business Editor, Artnet News

From NFTs to OVRs, to immersive art experiences, new technologies drive much of how art viewing and buying is evolving in the 21st Century. However, has that changed what type of person becomes a contemporary art collector? How does their collecting journey start, what are their interests and concerns? As art, the art market, and tech continue to intersect, our panelists will shed light on all these questions.

Artists' Influencers: Manuel Mathieu and Edwidge Danticat in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist

Manuel Mathieu, artist, Montreal
Edwidge Danticat, writer, Miami
Moderator: Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director, Serpentine Galleries, London

Who influences whom? How do artistic kinships develop? Conceived by Hans Ulrich Obrist, this conversation series brings together artists with individuals who have significantly influenced their artistic practice. For this edition, Montreal-based artist Manuel Mathieu meets one of his inspirations, the internationally acclaimed Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat.

Navigating the NFT Art Market

Harm van den Dorpel, artist and co-founder, left Gallery, Berlin
Saskia Draxler, gallerist, Nagel Draxler, Berlin/Cologne
Mark Soares, Chief Marketing Officer and Founder, Blokhaus Inc.
Moderator: Amy Whitaker, Author, Economics of Visual Art and NFT researcher at NYU

Hailed as a shift in the relationship between artists and the traditional gatekeepers of the art market, few events have disrupted the status quo like the astronomical prices reached at auctions for NFTs. Virtually overnight questions arose around the longevity of the NFT market, the art historical importance of NFTs, and what role, if any, galleries should play in the future of the market. How can galleries best help artists in this new terrain? Our panel will explore what NFTs are, how galleries already working with NFT artists plan to work with them, whether all NFT artists need commercial galleries, and how the relationship between galleries and platforms who mint NFTs can be productive.

Seen and Heard: The Politics of Representation

Chana Budgazad Sheldon, Executive Director, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami
Maia Ruth Lee, artist, Salida
Sky Hopinka, artist and filmmaker, Milwaukee
Moderator: Larry Ossei-Mensah, curator and Co-Founder of ARTNOIR

Arts organizations have very publicly stepped up a long-overdue dedication to diversity, inclusiveness and equity over the past few years. How best to move forward from here to sustain those commitments, and to ensure that beyond individual projects, they are addressing our past and looking to the future, while offering a platform for plural voices. The participants in this panel will reflect on how they have worked within their communities and with collaborators to consider and offer a platform to their concerns. What can we learn to help create organizations where multifaceted voices can truly be seen and heard?

The Artist and the Gallerists: Alvaro Barrington

Alvaro Barrington, artist, London and New York
Tim Blum, Co-founder, Blum & Poe, Tokyo, Los Angeles and New York
Pedro Mendes, Co-founder, Mendes Wood DM, Sao Paulo, Brussels and New York
Kyla McMillan, Founder, Saint George Projects, New York
Moderator: Lou Stoppard, writer, and curator, London

This panel offers a frank and informal conversation about the unique relationship between the artist Alvaro Barrington and his gallerists, including how they met, how they came to work together, and how their relationships have evolved over time. The panelists will discuss what it means for an artist to collaborate with and be represented by many galleries, working across different countries, situations and audiences. They will explore how ideas of artist representation are shifting, and how collaboration can go beyond simply sharing artists or spaces.

Resiliencia: Artistic Practices Post-Pandemic

Felipe Mujica, artist, Brooklyn, New York
Fannie Sosa, artist, France/Brasil
Jessica Kaire, NYC, artist and founder of NuMu, Guatemala City
Moderator: Jesus Fuenmayor, Program Director and Curator of University Galleries, University of Florida, Gainesville

Many artists have been considering care and political resistance for decades in their work, to examine our role and responsibility in relation to community and environment. During the devastation brought about by the Covid pandemic across Latin America and elsewhere, many of these interests gained a new urgency, across a wider spectrum of society. This panel brings together practitioners working with strategies of solidarity to consider how we can build on this momentum. After the world-wide pause brought about by the pandemic, what we can learn from their perspective on artistic resilience?

Immersive Installations? Digital Experiences in the Exhibition

Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst, Co-founder and CEO, Superblue
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, artist, Montreal
Felice Grodin, artist, Miami
Moderator: Brian Droitcour, Editor-in-chief, Outland

Developments in digital technology have seen exhibition spaces welcoming increasingly large-scale, interactive and immersive installations. Beyond the initial spectacle in space, what strategies are artists using to transport viewers? From the perspectives of artists or the newly established Superblue, Miami, this panel considers what such installations reveal about technology’s growing influence on reality. Can these works also raise awareness around the politics of algorithms, digital access and technology’s impact on ecology?