Art Basel Expanded Public Sector

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By Joshua Hancik

The theme 'Social Animals' has its origins in Aristotle's observations about the nature of human beings. Set within the cityscape of Miami Beach, this year’s edition of Public seeks to turn a grouping of separate works by multiple artists into a temporary community of its own, with works in conversation and in dialog with each other – such as Sam Falls’ powder-coated aluminum installation with a master work by Charlotte Posenenske – as well as with the location – evident in Michelle Lopez’s towering site-specific structure. 

Drawing on his experience of injecting public art within the urban landscape, Nicholas Baume’s selection works to activate the public park as a place for social interactions and as an extension of the diverse exchanges that take place in the environment of the art fair. In this context, Public presents Phil Wagner’s diptych of opposing chairs, large-scale sculptures by Mark di Suvero and Oscar Tuazon, and two urban structures built from concrete, wood, and metal mesh by Santiago Roose. Alicja Kwade’s large-scale steel sculpture reimagines the border lines between time zones as a global electrocardiograph.

The sector’s title likewise links to the hand-worked surfaces and textures of many of the work’s figurative and organic forms. The varied works of Huma Bhabha, Olaf Breuning, Aaron Curry, Tom Friedman, Thomas Houseago, Matthew Monahan, Tony Tasset and Pascale Marthine Tayou incorporate figurative elements, at times alluding to Modernist and ancient totems. The use of natural materials is seen in Carol Bove’s open-form sculpture in petrified wood and steel, Jeppe Hein’s series of 'rooms' shaped by water, and Richard Long’s 12-foot-diameter installation in Dartmoor Granite, while Ursula von Rydingsvard’s composition of cut, stacked and sculptured cedar beams transforms solid material into gestural form. Mungo Thomson’s audio recording of professional musicians imitating the sound of crickets is played on outdoor speakers.



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