Curated by Magali Arriola, Director, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City; Christina Li, independent curator based in Amsterdam and Hong Kong; and Larry Ossei-Mensah, Co-founder of ARTNOIR and Curator-at-Large at Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York, ‘OVR: Portals’ will focus on artistic practices that interrogate the parameters that have shaped our contemporary condition, both through current and historical lenses. Together, the featured presentations will address the disconnected realities that arose as a consequence of the events of the past year: the global pandemic, recent political upheavals, and the recalibration of social behavior across the globe.
Five new galleries will join the Art Basel platform for the first time, including Addis Fine Art, with spaces in Addis Ababa and London; Galeria Nora Fisch from Buenos Aires; First Floor Gallery Harare, with spaces in Harare and Victoria Falls; Gallery Vacancy from Shanghai; and Galerie Fons Welters from Amsterdam.
Several presentations will address some of the key sociopolitical issues of our times. Highlights include Jeffrey Deitch’s presentation of works by Karon Davis that reference the US government’s violent prosecution of the Black Panthers and its distortion of the public’s understanding of the Panthers’ contributions to their community; and ‘Big Man Syndrome’ by Troy Makaza at First Floor Gallery Harare, which reflects on issues such as income inequality and the complicity between wealth, capitalism, and patriarchy in the context of the pandemic lockdowns in Zimbabwe. Nova Contemporary will showcase Sawangwongse Yawnghwe’s new series of work created in response to the current turmoil in Myanmar and the escalating global refugee crises. ‘Documentos da Barbárie’ by Lourival Cuquinha at Central Galería will explore urgent present-day issues in Brazil, from the degradation of the environment to the struggles of indigenous peoples. Ben Brown Fine Arts’ viewing room will consider ideas of politics and power as well as identity and belonging through works by Yoan Capote, Awol Erizku, and Hank Willis Thomas, while Air de Paris will feature works by Gaëlle Choisne and Bruno Serralongue that call attention to issues of struggle for land and natural resources, as well as Liam Gillick's works that examine the dehumanized language of corporate culture.
‘OVR: Portals’ will also feature presentations that explore the future, including ‘POSTLIMINARY’ at Bank, bringing together works by Tim Crowley, Nik Kosmas, and Lu Yang, who use different strategies and mediums to present their own idiosyncratic and hypothetical prophecies. Tanya Bonakdar Gallery will showcase a solo presentation of Tomas Saraceno, whose work explores the future of our planet and invites viewers to conceptualize innovative ways of living and interacting with one another, and with their surroundings at large. Works by Sharon Lockhart, Simon Starling, and Rirkrit Tiravanija will be in dialogue at neugerriemschneider, creating a broader narrative with works that are both self-reflexive and imbued with the capacity to begin conversation on fundamental questions of human conditions.
Other highlights from ‘OVR: Portals’ include works from the 1970s to the 1980s by William Eggleston at David Zwirner that capture our shared isolation, uncertainty, and longing for communion; Richard Saltoun Gallery’s presentation of works by Violet Costello and Holly Stevenson that extends from the gallery’s collaboration with Procreate Project, an arts organization dedicated to supporting contemporary artists who are mothers; and a site-specific experimental body performance project titled ‘Drown’ by Chen Qiulin that uses tofu as a creative medium to explore human fragility and anxiety during pandemic presented by A Thousand Plateaus. Mendes Wood DM will present eight new works by Neïl Beloufa that blur the line between digital and physical realities, while Vermelho will bring together the work of artist and activist Claudia Andujar, whose photography is a testimony to her lifelong dedication to understanding and protecting the Yanomami indigenous peoples of Brazil. Silverlens’ viewing room will highlight Yee I-Lann’s collaboration with weavers from Malaysia to create ‘tikars’ – or traditional woven mats – as collaborative contemporary artworks that prompt viewers to reflect on home and distance, power and representation, love and community. Alison Jacques will present works by Sheila Hicks created in Paris during the recent national lockdown, alongside quilts by the women artists of Gee’s Bend, a remote black community situated on a U-turn in the Alabama River. Athr Gallery will focus on the works of Ahaad Al Amoud, whose practice explores both the social and cultural conditions of contemporary Saudi Arabia, plus selected artworks by Mohammad Alfaraj, comprising of a sculptural installation, photography and photomontage, sketches, a sound installation and two projections.
Noah Horowitz, Director Americas, Art Basel commented: ‘For our eighth Online Viewing Rooms, we’ve expanded our horizons further, introducing a curated concept and bringing new voices to our digital offering. We're able to work with three incredible curators – Magalí Arriola, Christina Li, and Larry Ossei-Mensah – who have assembled nearly 100 presentations. We continue to push the boundaries in this space, and through the unique perspectives and insights of the three curators, we hope our audiences will discover the various ways in which artists reflect on and develop interesting, and often challenging, narratives around our realities.’
Magali Arriola, co-curator of ‘OVR: Portals’, said: ‘It’s been a pleasure to collaborate with Christina and Larry on this edition of Art Basel's Online Viewing Rooms, and to explore together the concept of Portals as transitioning spaces between different geographies, time periods or narratives. The featured presentations will offer a vast array of proposals from around the world that address the recent fissures in our social fabric, the dissolutions of old cultural and political boundaries, and the exploration of new stimulating mindscapes.’
Christina Li, co-curator of ‘OVR: Portals’, said: ‘We’re thrilled that galleries from all over the world have responded to the theme “Portals” in surprising ways with thoughtful and intellectually engaging presentations. The featured works span across multiple temporalities, geographies, and mediums, some of which draw attention to our entanglements with technology, society and identity politics — all of which are pertinent issues of the present moment.’
Larry Ossei-Mensah, co-curator of ‘OVR: Portals’, said: ‘Visitors of “OVR: Portals” will be able to explore a variety of creative expressions and points of view across the globe that engage with the individual and shared realities of our time. It was a joy to discover the plethora of artistic voices that are using their creative practice to reflect on the contemporary concerns impacting our society.’
For the full gallery list, please visit artbasel.com/ovr. The Online Viewing Rooms will be available via the Art Basel website under artbasel.com/ovr, as well as on the Art Basel App for the most mobile-friendly experience.