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Art Basel‘s 46th Basel edition – taking place from June 18 to 21, 2015 – will feature 284 leading galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa, presenting the work of more than 4,000 artists, ranging from the great masters of Modern art to the latest generation of emerging artists. With the world’s premier international art show kicking off today, ARTsouthAFRICA shares some of our must-sees in the Swiss city this year!

STORY Art Basel 2015 1

ABOVE: Art Basel in Basel 2015, General Impression. © Art Basel

33 countries are represented at this year’s fair, with an increase in the number of exhibitors with exhibition spaces in Asia and the Asia Pacific region, as well as Africa, growing coverage across the Global South.

Of note for 2015 are several sessions within the acclaimed Conversations and Salon program that highlight artists, cultural producers and new art institutions from across the African continent. This includes discussions with Marie-Cécile Zinsou of Benin’s Fondation Zinsou; Touria El Glaoui of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair; Koyo Kouoh of RAW Material Company in Senegal; Mark Coetzee of Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town; Raphael Chikukwa of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe; Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung of SAVVY Contemporary; Moataz Nasr of Cairo’s Darb 1718 Contemporary Art & Culture Center; Chris Dercon of Tate Modern; curator Simon Njami; collectors Prince Yemisi Shyllon and Bruce Campbell Smith; advisor Bomi OdufunadeBarthélémy Toguo, founder of Bandjoun Station and the Ethiopian artist Aïda Muluneh

In September 2014, Art Basel launched the Art Basel Crowdfunding Initiative, a unique partnership with Kickstarter, the funding platform for creative projects. Designed specifically for non-profit visual arts organisations from all over the world, the initiative offers visibility and support for a wide variety of artistic projects, selected by an independent jury. Since the launch of the initiative, over USD $370,000 has been raised by 2,290 backers.

One of the campaigns includes LagosPhotoa Nigeria based photography festival that successfully raised funds through the initiative to expand into year-round programming with photography exhibitions, workshops and mentorships. LagosPhoto will be hosting a panel at the Crowdfunding Lab during Art Basel, focusing on their online journal on critical contemporary art, Art Base Africa. 

Highlights from across Africa that are featured at Art Basel | Basel this year include:

South Africa:

Marlene Dumas, presented by David Zwirner and and STAMPA (both in the Galleries sector)

The Goodman Gallery (Cape Town) will be showcasing the work of William Kentridge, Mikhael Subotzky, Alfredo Jaar, Hank Willis Thomas, ruby onyinyechi amanze, Liza Lou, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin.


Adel Abdessemed, presented by Dvir Gallery

Algerian-French artist Kader Attia (b. 1970, France), presented by Galleria Continua | San Gimignano | Beijing | Les Moulins


Latifa Echakhch, presented by Dvir Gallery


Barthélémy Toguo, presented by Galerie Lelong  (Toguo’s work is also featured in Enwezor’s ‘All the World’s Futures’ exhibition in Venice)


Julie Mehretu (b.1970), presented by Marian Goodman Gallery


Yonamine (b.1975), Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art


Wael Shawky (b. 1971), presented by Sfeir-Semler Gallery| Beirut | Lebanon


Hassan Hajjaj (b. 1961), presented by The Third Line| Dubai | United Arab Emirates

Of particular interest to ARTsouthAFRICA are the discussions happening in the Conversations and Salon progammes. The morning Conversations series offers a platform for dynamic dialogs between prominent members of the international artworld, each offering their unique perspective on producing, collecting and exhibiting art, while the afternoon Salon program is an open platform for short presentations – often informal – such as artist talks, panels, lectures and performances with a range of speakers including artists, curators, academics, collectors, architects, art lawyers, critics and other cultural players. 

These are some of our highlights:


10am to 11am | Public/Private | Works in Progress: Building New Art Institutions in Africa

Marie-Cécile Zinsou, President, Fondation Zinsou, Cotonou, Benin; Touria El Glaoui, Founder, 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London; Koyo Kouoh, Founding Artistic Director, RAW Material Company, Dakar; Mark Coetzee, Director and Chief Curator, Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town; Raphael Chikukwa, Chief Curator, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe.

Moderator: András Szántó, Author and Cultural Consultant, New York

Africa is associated with enormous social and economic challenges, but has arguably the greatest opportunities of any world region. This discussion of leading curators and institutional innovators evaluates both the promise and challenges of a continent that is commanding increasing interest in the international art community. Where are the greatest opportunities in Africa for the emergence of a robust arts infrastructure? What are the persistent challenges that stand in the way of global cultural and commercial recognition?


1pm to 2pm | Discussion | What Can Contemporary Art Do?

Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Curator, Art Critic and Director, SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin; Moataz Nasr, Artist, Founder, Darb 1718 Contemporary Art & Culture Center, Cairo; Chris Dercon, Director, Tate Modern, London; Jean Lamore, Artist, Writer and Filmmaker, Paris

Moderator: Simon Njami, Writer, Independent Curator, Founder and Chief Editor, Revue Noire, Paris

2:30 – 3:3opm | Discussion | LagosPhoto: Design Deconstructed

LagosPhoto and Art Base Africa (LagosPhoto’s online journal on critical contemporary art) present Design Deconstructed, a discussion featuring Amelie Klein, Maria Pia Bernardoni, Odessa Legemah, Hicham Lahlou and Azu Nwagbogu.

Continuing Art Base Africa’s mission to foster critical debates on contemporary art in relation to Africa on the Internet and beyond, this discussion will center on the importance of visibility and correct representation

5pm to 6pm | Collector Talk | Collecting Africa

Prince Yemisi Shyllon, Collector and Founder, Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation, Lagos; Bruce Campbell Smith, Collector, Cape Town

Moderator: Bomi Odufunade, Director, Dash & Rallo Art Advisory, London/Lagos


5pm to 6pm | Artist Talk | Cultural Producers Africa

Barthélémy Toguo, Knight in the Order of Arts and Literature, France, and Artist and Founder of Bandjoun Station, Paris/Bandjoun, Cameroon; Aïda Muluneh, Artist, Founder and Director of Addis Foto Fest, Addis Ababa

Moderator: Marie-Ann Yemsi, Cultural Consultant and Curator, Paris

If you’re in Basel and have any highlights of your own, or impressions to share, let us know on Facebook and Twitter – we’d love to hear all about it!

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