The global art world will be focused on Basel, Switzerland, this week as the world's largest art fair presents renowned and upcoming contemporary work from across the 20th and 21st centuries.
Amid so much global political chaos, the role of the artist has never been more important, said Art Basel director Marc Spiegler during a press conference before the opening of the 48th edition of the Swiss art fair.
"Artists see the world through a different lens, they can more directly capture themes that many others cannot," said Spiegler on Tuesday in Basel.
Some of the political work featured at this year's fair include "Orizzonte" (horizon), by Italian artists Francesco Arena, which features a metal bar covered in earth from a refugee camp on Lampedusa island. Set at eye-level, the work forces the viewer to reflect on the reality of the new "horizon" reached by many thousands of refugees every year.
Meanwhile, the Parcours section of the show returns with 22 site-specific artworks set around Basel's historical Münsterplatz square. Parcours will feature artworks by both internationally renowned and emerging artists including Ai Weiwei, Katinka Bock, Miriam Cahn, Nathalie Djurberg and Rirkrit Tiravanija.
Engaging with Basel's past and present by weaving artistic interventions into the fabric of the city, this year's edition of Parcours portrays a series of intimate experiences. Installed on Münsterplatz, Ai Weiwei's monumental sculpture "Iron Tree" (2016) inspires viewers to reflect on their relationship to nature, culture, history and the self.
Over four days from June 15-18, Art Basel will feature work by 4,000 artists across painting, sculpture, installation and photography.
In addition to 100,000 annual visitors, the event attracts museums and private collectors from over 100 countries. And with Documenta having also recently opened in Kassel, Art Basel will continue to see Europe attract art enthusiasts from all over the world.
sb/kbm (with dpa)