Interview with Marc Spiegler, Art Basel's director
Art Basel's 44th edition opened yesterday with a private preview of the Unlimited and Statements sectors. The main halls open today for a special preview and the public opening follows on Thursday. We caught up with Marc Spiegler, the director of the prestigious fair when he was in Dubai earlier this year. Here is what he had to say:
Q: An art fair is ultimately a commercial event but Art Basel has become an international showing space and is considered to be a great privilege to be shown there. What is the biggest misconception about Art Basel?
A: The fact that the show gives the opportunity of artists from less established centres to be discovered by new galleries shouldn’t be underestimated. A fair a commercial venue but is also where galleries go to discover new talent. This also leads to collaboration. When selecting galleries our first criteria is always quality and then we really strive to create a geographic balance. We want to reflect the diversity of the international world
Q: What is your opinion of the quality of galleries here in the UAE?
A: In the last two years we have had three galleries (Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde, Green Art Gallery and The Third Line) in the Statements sector. To be in this sector is an indication that you have young artists who are considered to be in the top tier internationally. There are not that many cities or regions outside of the major international ones that have had three galleries in Statements. This shows there is a lot of possibility here.
Q: How important is the Gulf region?
A: The Gulf region is very important to Art Basel, both in Basel and in Hong Kong. Once you really get into it and look at natural relationships between art scenes, the Gulf region is the only one that is equidistant between two of our shows. It is also relationally equidistant; there are strong connections between this region and Europe and also with points farther East.
Q: Is there a region that we should keep our eyes on next?
A: One of the things I noticed when I came to Art Dubai was that there was a sector dedicated to Africa. The history of the art world tells us that as regions develop economically and socially, art scenes will tend to thrive and arise as well. So, I think in a sense, we can expect the same kind of flourishing in Africa that we have seen previously in the Middle East, South America and Asia.
Q: Any other thoughts?
A: The other undiscovered territory is history. There are great artists discovered every day, some are very young and some are already dead. Art history is constantly being rewritten; depending on what we think is interesting today we also look back at what was important in the past. At a time when abstraction is strong and there is an allowing of the haphazard to take a role in the production of art it is not surprising that the Mono-ha movement of 1960s and 1970s Japan have suddenly become a hot thing internationally.