Basel

Unlimited

September 20-26, 2021

Curator's Statement

Giovanni Carmine

Positive Catalyst

That a project like Unlimited can take place in 2021 is a sign of faith in such a platform. With the many months of closed galleries and museums – and ensuing isolation – the pandemic has amplified our need for direct engagement with the ‘originals’. This is a positive development, an unforeseen side effect. Our encounters with art have intensified: our attention and lust for discussion is on the rise. We’ve also become more grateful for the artists’ work. This is largely because it has become clear that nothing is to be taken for granted. In this context, Unlimited turns out to be the ideal stage to experience these feelings in a real space – to relish in them, to reflect upon them. The intention has always been to provide the ideal conditions for opening a dialogue between art and audience. The pandemic has certainly had an influence on this edition of Unlimited; the preparations alone stretched out over almost two years. Not least in terms of the exhibition architecture, which was conceived to generate a compelling spatial experience while reinforcing a safe visit. There are also artworks on display that directly address the pandemic situation, such as Josh Smith’s painting of the eerily empty streets of Brooklyn. Or a work by Mario García Torres, It Must Have Been a Tuesday, made of 164 pieces of paper he posted, day after day, on the door of his closed studio during lockdown. An AIDS painting from 1991 by the artist group General Idea also reminds us that Covid-19 is not the only pandemic in the world, putting the perceptual mechanisms of our present into perspective. The crisis has not paralyzed art production. A telltale sign of this are two works that were completed especially for Unlimited 2021: the textile installation by Marion Baruch and the trompe-l’oeil painting by David Hockney. These artists – born in 1929 and 1937 – illustrate that making art and presenting it to an audience is an insatiable need. They are mediators of a positive message to be savored as a gift. Unlimited wants to be a catalyst and disseminator of this message.