7 Questions for Thomas Hug, Director of Artgenève, as the Fair Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary

We spoke with the director about what to expect in the fair's special next edition.

Thomas Hug, Director of Artgenève (2022). Courtesy of Artgenève.

Geneva’s favorite art fair, Artgenève, celebrates its 10th edition this weekend, and organizers are sparing no expense.

Returning at full scale for the first time in two years, the fair is welcoming back past participants as well as a number of first-timers such as Thaddaeus Ropac, Tim van Laere, Herald St, Waddington Custot, and Van de Weghe. Along with gallery exhibitors, the fair will showcase exhibitions by institutions, foundations, and museums in Geneva.

Ahead of the anniversary weekend, we spoke with Thomas Hug, the fair’s director, about what to look out for. 

What five booths you would say no one should miss this year?

The DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art from Greece is presenting a solo exhibition by Kaari Upson, which is really brilliant. And Meg Webster is showing a walk-in amphitheater-like garden in collaboration with Paula Cooper from New York, a gallery I have admired for many years.

Of course, no one should miss the presentation of works by Jean-Pierre Bertrand by the Centre Pompidou. That is one of my highlights. Two other highlights of mine are both newcomers to the fair: Thaddaeus Ropac, who is showing a great selection of works, and Herald St from London with very recognizable designs by Swiss duo Trix & Robert Haussmann. 

Music will play an important role in the fair this year. Can you tell me about that? 

Music has always been an important element of the fair. Artgenève has presented projects outside of the annual fair—for example, in 2019, at the last Venice Biennale, the fair presented “Encores,” music on recurrence, redundancy, and surplus, which included performances of works by Saâdane Afif, Hsia-Fei Chang, Pierre Huyghe, Yutaka Makino, Jonathan Monk, Annika Larsson, and Anri Sala.

This year is the first occasion that we have a very generous display of sound art at the fair itself. I actually studied music and still occasionally play the piano! 

This year, the fair will also put a special focus on photography, installed in a specially built labyrinth-like stage. Can you tell me about that? 

Indeed. This was an idea of the curator Chiara Agradi. It works particularly well at an art fair because visitors are almost forced to slow down and take their time. At the center of the labyrinth, there is a selection of works from the Martin Bodmer Foundation dealing with the topic of labyrinths. 

That leads me to my next question. Artgenève always has exhibitions by foundations and museums. Can you tell me about any other institutional exhibitions?

Yes, in addition to the Martin Bodmer Foundation installation, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen from Rotterdam is showing a huge, 15-meter-wide painting by Jim Shaw, and the Serpentine Galleries will also be presenting a booth.  

Can you tell me about the fair’s two booths, Prix Solo Artgenève-F.P.Journe and Prix Mobilière?

Prix Solo is presenting 20 solo presentations throughout the fair. The jury selects a work, which is then bought and given to a Genevan institution. The last prize was won by Marion Baruch and her work is now at the MAMCO in Geneva. Prix Mobiliere is the prize for young Swiss artists and this year we will be showing the candidates from 2021 and 2022. 

Do you think Art Geneve’s role in the art world shifted at all during quarantine? 

Not really. The very particular format that we have created from the beginning for Artgenève is easily adapted. We are an extremely flexible fair with generous space for each participant and wide aisles. Of course, the gallery participants are at the heart of the fair, but we offer so much more with the many institutional and curated spaces.

What are you most looking forward to about this edition of the fair?

That it’s finally taking place! It’s our 10th anniversary edition and we are pulling all the stops!

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