Every year, for the past 39 years, Basel, Switzerland transforms from a sleepy European city by the Rhine, to a teeming, crowded centre for the arts. Thousands of galleries from around the world apply for entry to Art Basel, one of the world’s most prestigious art fairs; however only 300 galleries make the cut. These galleries display the best of their collections—from Mark Rothkos to Andy Warhols to Joan Miros. However, right next to the main exhibition hall, the fair mounts an exhibition of experimental art, titled Art Unlimited. Instead of the paintings and sculptures which dominate the main fair, this satellite hall mostly houses large-scale, multimedia work.
The audience, instead of strolling through booths looking at sculptures and paintings, is invited to participate, creating a dialogue between the art and the viewer. This year, a big fan favourite at Art Unlimited was Qiu Anxiong’s Staring into Amnesia. Viewers could enter an empty railcar to watch archival videos play on the windows. Another intriguing piece was Jesus Rafael Soto’s Penetrable BBL bleu, which asked people to walk through the exhibit, but warned them not to run. Soto filled a large space with long blue strings and people had a hard time heeding his warning, as they dove through the strings. Outside the Art Unlimited hall and the main Art Basel hall, the fair also sponsored public art projects, such as Subodh Gupta’s Gandhi’s Three Monkeys.