For the latest edition of The Radar, our regular column of uncommon cultural recommendations from friends and colleagues around the world, the Paris-based curators Pierre-Alexandre Mateos and Charles Teyssou take us for a personal spin around Basel.
Hans Holbein's The Dead Christ in the Tomb (1521-1522) at Kunstmuseum Basel One cannot leave Basel without having seen Holbein’s cadaveric masterpiece—a coffin-like horizontal composition of emaciated ribs and flared bones, a body in an advanced stage of putrefaction. Only a handful of artists had both the talent and the guts to render Christ with such unflinching humanity. Dostoyevsky and his second wife Anna Snitkina, visiting Basel in August 1867, were horrified by it. Speaking through the person of Prince Myshkin in The Idiot, Dostoyevsky wrote: “Why, some people may lose their faith by looking at that picture!” What better to expect from great art than a negative epiphany?
Goetheanum Every religion has its temples and rituals. When you’re finished with Art Basel and the gods of art, you might feel the desire to pray to some different ones. Nothing beats Rudolf Steiner’s masterful concrete monument to the Anthroposophical Movement, named after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and completed in 1928. A gesamtkunstwerk beacon for a modernist belief system, it is also a mesmerizing example of expressionist architecture, taking its place in a lineage that includes fellow visionaries like Bruno Taut and Paul Scheerbart.
Art Basel Conversations series Organized by Emily Butler, the Art Basel Conversations are, without a doubt, the best antidote to Art Basel syndrome. If you cannot process any more names or visual information, if you lost your VIP pass, if you’re badly in need of a little serenity amid an agoraphobic’s nightmare or if you simply want a deeper understanding of what’s going in the art world, here’s your place. This year’s menu of talks looks particularly appetizing. Among the panels we’re looking forward to are “The Architecture of the Future Museum” and a conversation between the artists Tiona Nekkia McClodden and P. Staff.
House of Mixed Emotions Party, Kaschemme Every year on Wednesday during Art Basel week, artists, museum directors, collectors, gallerists on selling sprees and gallerists on the downhill slide join alpine ravers and hardcore Baselers at the Kaschemme nightclub. Resembling a rural Cajun shack and strategically located under a bridge far away from the city center, the club serves as the venue for the raunchiest and naughtiest party of the week. Overseen by two maestros, Mathis Altmann and Jan Vorisek, under the aegis of the House of Mixed Emotions, the event packs the hopes, dreams, deceptions and drama of the fair into just a few square meters and sets them to a thumping techno beat.
Basel Social Club The history of anti-, mock-, alt- or para-art fairs is rich—decades of shape-shifting variations on the desire to renew old formats. The Basel Social Club, launched last year, is a fine example of how to shake things up with elegance and wit. At the time of this writing, we’ve yet to see the details of this year’s iteration. But knowing last year’s effusion of art, fun and swimming-pool performances, we’re very much looking forward to what’s on offer at the former mayonnaise factory where it all takes place.
Pierre-Alexandre Mateos and Charles Teyssou are curators based in Paris. Their current projects include Paris Orbital, a public program at the Pinault Collection—Bourse de Commerce focusing on the links between Parisian mythologies and pulp culture, a forthcoming publication about homosexual cruising with HEAD (Geneva) and Spector Books (Leipzig), and the curation of Conversations program at Paris+ par Art Basel in October 2023.
The pair co-founded and curated the first edition of Stavanger Secession in Stavanger, Norway, which will launch on June 22, 2023, bringing artists, thinkers and filmmakers together from around the world.