Beyond the Fair: 14 Shows to See While in Switzerland for Art Basel

The main stage at Art Basel has some competition this year, as local venues roll out an impressive roster of shows just a stone’s throw from throngs of fair-goers. From Wolfgang Tillmans at Fondation Beyeler to Wim Delvoye at Museum Tinguely, here are the shows you can’t afford to miss beyond Basel.
Still from Richard Serra, Prisoner's Dilemma (1974). Courtesy of Museum of Modern Art.

Still from Richard Serra, Prisoner’s Dilemma (1974). Courtesy of Museum of Modern Art.

1. “Richard Serra” at Kunstmuseum Basel (Gegenwart), May 20–October 15, 2017

While Richard Serra is an artist best known for his gargantuan outdoor steel sculptures, the new exhibition at Kunstmuseum Basel explores the lesser known yet equally impressive cache of films created between 1968 and 1979. The show includes 16 films and videos in their original 16mm format, many of which show the impact of Serra’s collaborations with artists including Nancy Holt and Joan Jonas.

Kunstmuseum Basel, Gegenwart St. Alban-Rheinweg 60, 4052 Basel

Installation view of Michael Riedel's PowerPoint solo show in 2013, which will be included in "Michael Riedel: CV" at Kunsthalle Zurich.

Installation view of Michael Riedel’s PowerPoint solo show in 2013, which will be included in “Michael Riedel: CV” at Kunsthalle Zurich.

A solo exhibition of the German artist Michael Riedel and his ongoing project “CV,” which explores the ubiquitous curriculum vitae, or résumé, as an ouroboros in the life of a creator. The show focuses on the representation that is necessary in the career of an artist, and the documentation of its perpetual existence bound up with its creator.

Kunsthalle Zürich, Limmatstrasse 270 CH-8005 Zürich

Tino Seghal at Fondation Beyeler, image courtesy of Fondation Beyeler, 2017.

Tino Seghal at Fondation Beyeler, image courtesy of Fondation Beyeler, 2017.

3. “Tino Sehgal” at Fondation Beyeler, May 22–November 12, 2017

After enduring the endless booths at Basel, head over to Tino Sehgal‘s new show, where six of the artist’s “constructed situations” will take place throughout the gardens and galleries of the Foundation Beyeler. Sehgal’s work draws on the the tenets of institutional critique—encouraging experiences between volunteer collaborators and visitors to the show. In the past, the British-born, Berlin-based artist has employed such volunteers to sing, dance, embrace, and chat with spectators.

Fondation Beyeler, Baselstrasse 101, CH-4125 Riehen/Basel

Wolfgang Tillmans, Gedser (2004). © Galerie Buchholz, Berlin-Cologne, Maureen Paley, London, David Zwirner, New York.

Wolfgang Tillmans, Gedser (2004). © Galerie Buchholz, Berlin-Cologne, Maureen Paley, London, David Zwirner, New York.

4. “Wolfgang Tillmans” at Fondation Beyeler, May 28–October 1, 2017

In the first comprehensive photographic show at Fondation Beyeler, some 200 works will be on display by the German artist. Wolfgang Tillmans is known for his vivid works that capture effervescent moments of youth. In this exhibition, curators worked with the artist to create a cohesive view of an oeuvre encompassing portraiture, still life, and landscape, as well as abstract images.

Fondation Beyeler, Baselstrasse 101, CH-4125 Riehen/Basel

Eclipse of Aerocene Explorer, 2016, Performance Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia. Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2016.

Eclipse of Aerocene Explorer, 2016, Performance Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia. Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2016.

5. “Tomás Saraceno: Aerosolar Journeys” at Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich, June 1–September 3, 2017

The first solo exhibition in Switzerland of the Argentinian-born artist Tomas Saraceno will take place this summer. His work draws from the Russian constructivists and suprematists, who designed visionary ideas of how art could impact time and space, fusing elements of architecture and art to visualize biological scientific processes. In this show, his “Aerocene” project meets his study of arachnids in a blend of acoustic and visual artistry.

Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Selnaustrasse 25 · 8001 Zürich

David Claerbout, still from Olympia (2017). Courtesy of the artist.

David Claerbout, still from Olympia (2017). Courtesy of the artist.

6. “David Claerbout: Olympia” at Schaulager, the Laurenz Foundation, June 1–October 22, 2017

The recently remodeled Schaulager center of the Laurenz Foundation is a unique forum for viewing art, especially as a corollary to the fair at Basel. The “viewing-warehouse” will host a show of the Belgian artist David Claerbout, whose work is at the intersection of film and still photography, as explored in “Olympia,” a digitally based project that uses the Olympic Stadium built in Berlin during the Third Reich, as its starting point, and calculates a painstakingly precise rendering of its disintegration over the course of 1,000 years.

Schaulager, Ruchfeldstrasse 19, 4142 Münchenstein

Juice Rap News', still from Immigrants! Episode #34, featuring Donald Trump and Tony Abbott, 2015. © Juice Rap News.

Juice Rap News’, still from Immigrants! Episode #34, featuring Donald Trump and Tony Abbott, 2015. © Juice Rap News.

7. “A World Not Ours” at Kunsthalle Mulhouse, June 1–August 27, 2017

Following its debut last year at the Schwarz Foundation in Samos, Greece, “A World Not Ours” continues to Mulhouse for its next chapter. The initial exhibition focused on the beginnings of the refugee crisis taking place in Greece, a geographical center of the humanitarian crisis, and this component will delve into the many stories of displacement that have taken hold of Europe. The original group show has been expanded upon to account for the constantly evolving issues, and is just as relevant today as ever.

Kunsthalle Mulhouse 16 Rue de la Fonderie, 68100 Mulhouse, France (about 30 minutes outside of Basel)

Yan Xing, The Story of Shame (2015). Image courtesy of the artist and Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne.

Yan Xing, The Story of Shame (2015). Image courtesy of the artist and Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne.

8. “Yan Xing: Dangerous Afternoon” at Kunsthalle Basel, June 2–August 27, 2017

Yan Xing (b. 1986) will be the subject of a new solo exhibition; “Dangerous Afternoon” is an installation comprised of film, photography, performance, and sculpture, and will be based on a fictional curator’s fantastical imagination. Xing’s work employs a melange of art historical information, aesthetic criticism, and purely made-up elements that come together to form a destabilizing and entertaining narrative.

Kunsthalle Basel, Steinenberg 7 CH-4051 Basel

Heather Dewey Halbourg's Stranger Visions installation, © Heather Dewey Halbourg.

Heather Dewey Halbourg’s Stranger Visions, © Heather Dewey Halbourg.

9. “unREAL. The Algorithmic Present” at HeK, June 8–August 20, 2017

An international group of 24 artists come together to present their visualizations of our collective fascination with technology—sometimes to an unhealthy degree. The multimedia show presents a range of works that engage and sometimes assault our physical and sensual beings. In what sounds like the plot for an episode of “Black Mirror,” Heather Dewey Hagborg’s Stranger Visions creates facial reconstructions based on DNA traces gathered from public places.

House of Electronic Arts Basel , Freilager-Platz 9, 4142 Münchenstein/Basel CH

Donald Judd, <i>Untitled (89–04</i>(1988). Image © Donald Judd.

Donald Judd, Untitled (89–04(1988). Image © Donald Judd.

10. “JUDD / MALEVICH” at Galerie Gmurzynska, June 10–September 15, 2017

This new exhibition harkens back to an earlier show featuring the same artists, Donald Judd and Kazimir Malevich, at Galerie Gmurzynska in 1994, titled “The Moscow Installation.” Malevich’s contribution to art history had a tremendous impact on the aesthetic of Judd, with both artists striving to embody the notion of a gesamtkunstwerk, an entire world of creation.

Talstrasse 37, Zurich 

Wim Delvoye, Cement Truck (2016). © Wim Delvoye, courtesy of Museum Tinguely, Basel.

Wim Delvoye, Cement Truck (2016). © Wim Delvoye, courtesy of Museum Tinguely, Basel.

11. “Wim Delvoye” at the Museum Tinguely, June 14–January 1, 2018

The first retrospective of Belgian artist Wim Delvoye in Switzerland will take place, fittingly, at Museum Tinguely this summer. Delvoye’s extensive oeuvre draws heavily on the kinetic works of Jean Tinguely, bringing advanced technology together with traditional craftsmanship, along with a healthy dose of Delvoye’s wit and humor.

Museum Tinguely, Paul Sacher-Anlage 2, 4002 Basel, Switzerland

Caroline Mesquita, 123 Soleil (2015). Image courtesy of the artist and carlier | gebauer, Berlin.

Caroline Mesquita, 123 Soleil (2015). Image courtesy of the artist and carlier | gebauer, Berlin.

12. “The Visitors: Caroline Mesquita” at SALTS, June 15–August 19, 2017

In keeping with artist Caroline Mesquita’s sculptural practice, her first solo exhibition in Switzerland will incorporate life-sized figures, hammered and sculpted from oxidized metal. Beyond merely constructing the figures, Mesquita also subjects the material to various chemical and figurative transformations, so that the figures take on the attributes of humanity—each with individual scars and imperfections. The artist places the coated-steel people in specifically designed scenarios that relate to a fictitious backstory she concocts, populating a play that she stages, designs, and directs. This rendition will respond to the history of SALTS, a contemporary art space outside of Basel that was once the site of a butcher shop, garage, and courtyard across from the river Birs.

Hauptstrasse 12, 4127 Birsfelden

Jarbas Lopes' Troca-Troca (Switch-Switch) (2004). Image courtesy of Jarbas Lopes.

Jarbas Lopes’ Troca-Troca (Switch-Switch) (2004). Image courtesy of Jarbas Lopes.

13. “Jarbas Lopes” at CRAC Alsace, June 15–September 17, 2017

Lopes has long used his art as the jumping off point for a larger, more ambitious idea, one that often incorporates some mode of transportation, a merry group of compatriots, and a politically minded mission. The mission has been largely influenced by political events, and so have the vehicles—which have taken the form of bicycles enhanced by decorative sheaths of woven straw or plastic, bright tricolor painted Volkswagen Beetles, and a fishing boat that served as a temporary residence for nine artists floating through the Amazon and its tributaries. Lopes’s work naturally takes into account more than the sterilized white cube, the finely tuned curatorial statement, and the publicity show; it is a work that is always in progress, responding to, and extracting from the people that interact with it. It exists in “real time” and though it may pause for a rest, it is never fully still.

18 Rue du Chateau, 68130 Altkirch

Jürgen Lindemann's, 40 Monoblocs. Image courtesy of Vitra Design Museum.

Jürgen Lindemann’s, 40 Monoblocs. Image courtesy of Vitra Design Museum.

14. Monobloc—A Chair for the World” at the Vitra Schaudepot, Through July 9, 2017

How much do you really know about that white plastic chair you’re sitting in? The ubiquitous piece of furniture that revolutionized design for mass consumption is the subject of a temporary exhibition in the Vitra Design Museum’s year old Shaudepot. The exhibition looks at the Monobloc chair in its various iterations and explores history behind one of design’s greatest triumphs.

Charles-Eames-Str. 2, D-79576 Weil am Rhein

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