Which Artists Will Everyone Be Talking About in Basel This Year? Here’s a Primer on 5 of the Week’s Rising Stars
Get smart fast with our cheat sheet on five artists everyone will be talking about.
Right about now, the global art world is packing its Rimowa suitcases and Louis Vuitton trunks, preparing to descend on a small but mighty little financial center we call Switzerland. They’re picking out party clothes, steeling their stomachs for the unholy quantities of asparagus and champagne, and their accountants are feeling an inexplicable neck pain. That’s right folks, it’s Art Basel season.
At this year’s edition of the flagship edition of the fair, there are plenty of artists who deserve your attention. But with 284 galleries showing—and multitudes of exhibitions unfolding at satellite events, museums, and institutions across the city— it can be hard to filter through the noise. Worry not; we’ve got you. Here are five artists whose careers we believe are primed to reach new heights.
Diamond Stingily (b.1990)
Represented by: Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin and Cabinet, London
Where: Art Basel Unlimited
What: Chicago-born, New York-based artist Diamond Stingily’s ambitious and precise installations often encompass readymades that delve into memories of suburban living, childhood, racial identity, and racial violence. For Unlimited, the artist will present a massive floor-to-ceiling projection called How Did He Die. The 2016 piece projects black-and-white film footage from 1967 that shows young girls in Los Angeles playing call and response songs and dancing in a schoolyard. To see it, viewers will look through a free-standing chain-link fence that cuts up the screen—like much of Stingily’s complex artworks, there is a note of ominousness, surveillance, and haunting alongside a sense of memorialization.
How Did He Die is an edition of three (plus one artist proof); one is already in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Stingily’s work will also be on view at a smaller scale at both Isabella Bortolozzi and Cabinet’s booths in Art Basel’s Galleries sector.
Sin Wai Kin (b. 1991)
Represented by: Soft Opening, London
Where: “Portraits,” the artist’s solo presentation that marks the gallery’s debut at Art Basel in the Statements sector
Known for their adoption of drag as a medium while drawing on references from the traditional roles and aesthetics in Cantonese opera, Sin examines the themes of desire, identification, and consciousness in fiction narratives and storytelling through their work, whether it is performance, moving image, writing, or print. The “boundary-pushing nature” of their work has impressed a wide audience including the judges of last year’s Turner Prize. After earning a nomination for the coveted Turner Prize last year—the youngest artist to receive that honor, at the age of 31—the London-based Sin has conceived the project “Portraits” for their Art Basel’s presence. The project presents five nearly life-size filmed “living” portraits of five characters Sin created: “The Universe,” “Change,” “The Clowns,” “The Constructs,” and “The Storyteller.” It serves as the artist’s continuation of their exploration of storytelling as a means to interrogate binaries and fantasy narratives while examining how histories are created. Editions of films start at $15,000.
Represented by: Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles
Where: Kunsthalle Basel
What: Patrick Staff, the filmmaker better known as P. Staff, will be filling Switzerland’s oldest art gallery with an installation centered on the concept of necromancy. The sweeping exhibition, titled “In Ecstasy,” is the largest solo show by the 36 year-old artist to date.
Through a series of complex wires and pipes that evoke livestock containers, viewers will travel through a maze-like structure and encounter video and sculpture works that immerse them in richly-hued scenes that illustrate Staff’s mystical perspective on the pervasive brutality of life as we know it. Along the way, found objects including door handles, flooring panels, electrical socket covers, and locker tags have been installed into the walls of the Kunsthalle. At first they might appear quotidian, but look a bit closer and they have a rusted patina, which Staff created using animal blood collected from slaughterhouses.
Holly Herndon (b.1980) and Mathew Dryhurst (b.1984)
Represented by: Not represented by a commercial gallery
What: Berlin-based artists Herndon and Dryhurst are pioneering—not only with their experiments with the latest technology but in their work to create industry standards regarding how living artists’ work and likenesses are used to train A.I. models.
At HEK Basel, they are showing some works from their 2021 collection “Classified,” a series of portraits that explore what OpenAI’s CLIP model thinks “Holly Herndon” is from scraping the internet. They will also show some footage from the A.I. training performances held from 2018-2020, a song generated using a collective voice model the artists trained on more than 50,000 voices, and a terminal for people to use to see whether their work or likeness has been used to inform a large dataset that most A.I. image generators use for training, haveibeentrained.com. (The pair are also working on another tool called Spawning, which allows people to set permissions on how their artwork and likeness are used by the machines.)
At Liste, the artists are exhibiting in a group show that’s part of the fair’s special projects program. They’re bringing a bizarrely serene landscape from their “Infinite Images” series, a collection of large wall pieces that experiment with the concept of making images that continue infinitely in all directions, which is one of the first images made with the A.I. text-to-image generator DALL-E. They’re printing the artwork on perforated paper, so people can destroy it or take pieces of it home over the course of the exhibition. “We liked the idea of treating one of the first artworks made with this generation of the tech as something anyone can take with them, or do anything with, as opposed to treating it like a scarce or finite art work,” Dryhurst said. “By their nature these images are infinite.”
Responding to collector interest, they are still working out pricing for the “Infinite” images, although Dryhurst said they sold one in 2022 to a collector for around $20,000. The “Classified” images are all sold, and the floor price of them is currently 20 eth (around $36,000 as of this writing).
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