In 2016, the Art Basel Cities Initiative was officially launched, and Buenos Aires was announced as the first partner city. One can understand why this would be the perfect choice just by spending some time here in the capital. Simply by walking down the colorful graffiti-ed streets of Palermo Soho or Colegiales, surrounding yourself with the hugely influential pieces at MALBA, or visiting one of the more intimate galleries celebrating Argentine and international artists alike, the artistic flare is everywhere.
Any art student, or simply an art fanatic, I meet always tries to stay on top of what new must-see exhibit Buenos Aires has to offer, yet they are endless and ever-changing. Art Basel Cities has really fed into the demand for a platform from the newest and most revolutionary work.
Art Basel is not an entirely new idea, of course. It started off in the 1970’s as a group of gallerists in the eponymous Swiss city who established an international art fair, and the organization has continued to make history, having gradually incorporated more cities globally into the program.
In the 90’s Art Basel created an Art Unlimited platform, and made its debut in Miami Beach featuring 160 galleries attracting with an astonishing amount of over 30,000 visitors. Then, in 2010 Art Basel presented its inaugural show in the artistically innovative hub Hong Kong. Finally, in 2016, the Art Basel Cities initiative was officially established, and it was announced that Buenos Aires would be the first partner city (yay).
The festival starts on September 6th and ends on the 12th, and works with both international and local artists, bridging the gap between the two worlds through a series of talks, installations, and shows. The week is chock-a-block with activities, and it hosts many up-and-coming Argentine artists who draw on the city’s rich cultural heritage. The main theme is the collaborated work Rayuela (“Hopscotch”), where artistic director Cecilia Alemani has selected a number of artists to be involved in the exhibition shown in over 15 different locations.
The exhibition borrows its name from the 1963 novel Rayuela by Julio Cortázar which is a non-linear novel, almost a stream-of-consciousness that jumps into different snapshots in various neighborhoods of Paris and Buenos Aires. The exhibition equally provides snapshots of the city in an episodic manner; the artists have created artwork related to the urban spaces their venues are situated in so you can understand the personal impression of the city from the view of the artist, whether they are Argentine or international.
Cecilia Alemani is a real big cheese, there is no doubt in that. She has dabbled as both the Chief Curator of High Line Art in New York, and as the Curator of the Italian Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale. Thus there’s no doubt that her curated work Hopscotch will be anything less than fantastic.
She has collaborated with a group of 18 international and national artists to produce a real organic, personal vision of the city. This vast exhibition provides a platform for the viewer to experience Buenos Aires through the trajectory of the individual artists. The exhibitions literally “hopscotch” around the city, from La Boca to Puerto Madero, to the Planetarium in Palermo, back to the Costanera Sur, offering an insight into the different urban spaces and weaves individual and collective existences into one another.
All the installations and works are free and open to the public. We have put the main list of the Hopscotch events along with an understanding of what view of the city they will be revealing, with their timings and locations.
Polenphonia, by Eduardo Navarro
Where? Jardín Botánico, in Palermo
When? Navarro’s performance is every day of the Art Basel Cities Week. It is from 1 PM to 5 PM on Thursday, September 6th to Wednesday, September 12th. See more here.
What? Eduardo Navarro is a contemporary Argentine artist who works predominantly with performance and installation, as well as sculpture and collage. His performance entitled Polenphonia is set in the beautiful location of the Jardín Botánico in Palermo, and he aims to blur the boundaries of creative production and nature.
He coordinates with seven flutists who will walk along the garden, through the spring blossoms and flowers and react to the sounds and smells of the environment. As well as reacting, they aim to listen to each other and improvise to create a harmonic symphony of the senses; Navarro calls this “sensory mirroring.” The musicians will be wearing special masks designed to heighten the audience’s experience. This is child-friendly, and if the weather forecast is accurate, this should be a lovely activity for a sunny weekend.
Aggregate, by Alexandra Pirici
Where? In La Boca, at Arenas Studios
When? Pirici’s choreographic work will be from 1 PM to 5 PM on Thursday, September 6th to Monday, September 10th. Then from 2 PM to 6 PM on Tuesday the 11th and Wednesday the 12th. See more information on timings here.
What? Alexandra Pirici lives and works in Bucharest, Romania, and her performances will be a new iteration of her work Aggregate which has been performed in Berlin at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein in August 2017. She aims to explore the collective body through choreography and then link different temporal and spatial events in real time. 60 performers – it should be noted they are not professional actors – will enact motions and sounds that reference our common cultural heritage, urging us to consider society as one living body of mutual memories.
The performers swarm around the audience and the group becomes one. The performers are noticeable, however, as they organize into loose rows that intersect at angles, and mirror each other’s movements. It feels almost ritualistic and is incredibly powerful; barriers feel deconstructed. This work feels very organic and definitely a must-see.
Diego (Retrato de Diego Núñez) / Diego (Portrait of Diego Núñez), by Gabriel Chaile
Where? Chaile’s installation will be alongside a coastal walk in La Boca between Av Almte. Brown and Martin Rodriguez.
When? From 1 PM to 3 PM on both Sunday, September 9th and Tuesday, September 11th. Find more information about timings and location here.
What? Gabriel Chaile’s sculptural installation in La Boca appears to be a sort of clay alien spaceship, which perches on the coastline on Plaza Almirante Brown. It also doubles as a clay oven where locals can prepare their food; Chaile will use the sculpture to cook food and offer it to the audience and the community alike.
It is named A Portrait of Diego Nuñéz to honor a young man from the district who was killed in 2012. This is an experience that really channels into the community of La Boca, you can feel connected to a faction which is often isolated and somewhat ostracized from the center of the city; it is definitely worth a visit. There will be a talk with the artist at 12 PM for 45 minutes before the walk along the riverside begins.
Señalamiento del Cielo (Signaling the Sky), by David Horvitz
Where and when? His exhibition is set in three different locations. It moves from the Biblioteca Nacional Mariano Moreno, to the Waterfront of La Boca, to the Ex-Cervecería Munich.The performances will be on Friday 5-7 PM, Sunday 4-6 PM, and Wednesday 4-6 PM. Look here for the exact locations and times.
What? David Horovitz is an American artist who uses a vast array of medium for his work, such as photography, watercolor, and performance and often mixes both man-made systems and natural matter. With this particular performance, Horovitz will pay homage to Marcel Duchamp, the avant-garde French artist associated with Cubism alongside Matisse and Picasso, by releasing 200 balloons into the sky from the various aforementioned locations.
Duchamp spent a year in Buenos Aires (from 1918-1919) and during that time he wrote to his sister with instructions on how to access his work Unhappy Readymade: she must hang a geometry book on a clothesline and watch it move in the varying weather (wind, etc.). Horovitz channels this sense of unpredictability due to the weather conditions, paired with mathematics as each balloon string measures exactly one mile.
This is a great experience for adults and children alike, as he encourages audience participation, and it is an opportunity to look at our industrial skyline (in one of the three locations) in a different way.
Symposium, by Ad Minoliti
Where? At Victoria Ocampo’s home, which hosts El Fondo Nacional de las Artes.
When? On Saturday, September 8th from 2-8 PM.
What? Artist and co-founder of the feminist collective PintorAs Ad Minoliti challenges the prescribed models of gender within art, through murals, paintings, and installations. In this exhibition, Minoliti fills Villa Ocampo, commissioned in 1928 by progressive intellectual and poet Victoria Ocampo, with a number of their own paintings and sculptures to challenge a male-dominated history.
Minoliti hosts a dialogue for a number of contemporary feminist thinkers including queer activist and art history professor Nicolás Cuello, as well as collectives Archivo de la Memoria Trans, Serigrafistas Queer and Antiprotocolo Antifachxmachx. This dialogue will be filmed and then screened on a loop within the exhibition.
Cine Dreams: Future Cinema of the Mind, by Stan VanDerBeek
Where? Planetario Galileo Galilei, in Palermo
When? The screening will be running from Thursday, September 6th and Friday the 7th from 7 PM to 3 AM and then Saturday from 9 PM to 5 AM (yikes!).
What? Stan VanDerBeek (1927-1984), was an experimental American filmmaker, and his work Cine Dreams was originally performed for three nights in 1972 in Rochester. The work is an experiment in “altering our subconscious through image immersion.” It blends different medium of films, such as newsreels, animations, live-action dance, and other forms to create a very vivid impression of American society in the 70’s as seen by “one of the era’s most forward-thinking minds.”
There are also images of the night sky and also the imagery of the audience members (!) cut into the films to guarantee an ultra-surreal experience. As the films last until 3 AM and 5 AM (depending on the day), you are invited to not resist the urge to sleep, so you can weave the film snippets with patches of your own dreams. You are encouraged to record your dreams then you can give details of what images you subconsciously see during the screening, afterward.
There are 252 seats available, and it runs as a first-come-first-serve, so make sure you don’t come too late. You can bring your own pillows and blankets for optimum nap time. This should be extremely interesting, and just a little bit trippy.
Apart from these main events, there is also a variation of talks from either the aforementioned artists or other innovative Argentine and International thinkers, such as Leandro Katz and Guillermo Kuitca. You can check out the full itinerary here.