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Art Basel, from an insider

From:     Chris Guillochon
Category: Art
Date:     15 June 2009
Time:     10:54 AM



I took in all of the art fairs over three days: Art Basel, Volta, Scope, the Solo Project and Liste. I 
should mention that my main purpose for being in Basel was to get experience of assisting at an art 
fair  I spent a day at the Solo Project manning the stand of Monika Bobinska - the gallery was 
showcasing the work of Adam King.

At the main fair there seemed to be an extraordinary amount of Modern Art on display. I dont know if 
exhibiting galleries are limited to the ratio of Modern Art that they can show in relation to 
Contemporary Art but they must have been sailing very close to the wind. Everyone seemed to be 
playing it very safe  the fact that 31 galleries were showing Andy Warhol is not insignificant!

It was here that I saw Adele and Eva, the extraordinary performance artists; with their shaved heads 
and pink outfits they were creating a stir and ten or twenty people at a time were following them 
around with cameras; it was probably more interesting than the art.

I found Volta and Scope more of an enjoyable experience than Art Basel. Volta was housed in a 
former market; it was really well set up and there was some interesting work on display; a cafe was 
well placed so that you could sit down and get a feel for the action. I could hear one gallerist giving a 
prospective client an overview of an artist and I swear this is true - he started off by saying that the 
artist was destitute at 14, she was on drugs and working as a prostitute at 16 and then at the age of 
18 she decided to become an artist!

I found the work at Scope in particular closely aligned to my direction (I run an art consultancy for 
residential and business clients and will start doing some offsite projects in the autumn). Indeed, it 
was now for the first time that I got a good sense of understanding of the pecking order in the art 
world - Art Basel, Volta, Scope - its good to know where I could slot in.

All the fairs seemed very quiet overall.  There were no queues to get in. There were no shortage of 
gallerists in Scope and Volta approaching me to engage in conversation; I was lugging around my 
Longchamp overnight bag so they probably thought I had just jetted in from New York!  

What else? Oh yes, I had the privilege of speaking to Alex Hubschman, founder of Scope. He came 
to the Solo Project one day and gave us the thumbs up saying  this is the best work that I have seen 
yet. What an endorsement!

I also had a couple of freebies; I was a guest of the Contemporary Art Society for an afternoon, when 
the delightful Lois Stonock gave me a tour of Liste. Lois, with her MA in Contemporary Art Theory  
knows her stuff so when she talks, I listen!

On a final note,  Switzerland is incredibly expensive.  It costs CHF 5 for an expresso and small 
sandwiches are routinely CHF 10. How do people survive? Well I was told that a school teacher in 
Switzerland earns in the region of  60, 000 a year  therein lies your answer, Zuper. 

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