Art Basel Cities: Buenos Aires was launched in November 2017 as an initiative to encourage the local cultural ecosystem with the aid of Art Basel’s network. Set to run in Buenos Aires from 6-12 September, it will feature a special programme curated by Cecilia Alemani entitled Hopscotch. Running through three neighbourhoods in the Argentinian capital, a series of abandoned buildings, industrial relics and public spaces will be occupied by contemporary art by seminal artists such as Maurizio Cattelan, Barbara Kruger, and David Horvitz, among several others.
Incorporating spaces that do not typically house or interact with art is the basis of Alemani’s curatorial vision, which is inspired by Argentine writer Julio Cortazar’s 1963 novel Hopscotch (Rayuela). “The structure of the book – which can be read in different sequences jumping from one chapter to the other – as well as the reference to such ancient children’s game were a perfect metaphor for how the public art programme will unravel in the city,” explains Alemani. “Visitors will be invited to hopscotch through the city, discovering unusual venues and playful artworks that will engage them directly.”
A plethora of site-specific sculptures, installations, performances and relational performances have been commissioned for the programme to intervene and assimilate with the city. “I think when it comes to public art all challenges become great opportunities to take risks and try something new,” says Alemani. “I focused my research on an area of the city that runs along the waterfront of the Rio de la Plata. I found many amazing locations that have never been used for contemporary art and could really become wonderful venues for site-specific projects.”
While highlights will include Eduardo Basualdo’s installation along the Rio de la Plata that will create a sensorial landscape or Cattelan’s Eternity–an experiment of social sculpture featuring a pop up fictional cemetery where people can create tombstones for the still-living in Palermo–the works constituting Hopscotch will be connected by a corporeal through line. Bodily representation will be used a tool or medium, as well as to manifest the construction of identities and communities, exemplified by works by Horvitz, who will pay homage to Marcel Duchamp, or Pia Camil’s use of t-shirts to trace cultural heritage and exchange routes.
“There are similarities with the job I do at the High Line in New York, mainly working with artists in producing and commissioning new art works for the public space,” notes Alemani. “The main difference of course is the site itself: in Buenos Aires I have the entire city as a platform and that is one of the most exciting opportunities I have ever had!” Aiming to create public art interventions that create unexpected connections both between the venues and the artworks, Alemani hopes to guide viewers to little seen or under explored facets of Buenos Aires. “I like the idea that the artists can use the city itself as a canvas for many different kinds of interventions, and that Hopscotch will give the opportunity to our visitor to discover the city through the eyes of the artists,” she remarks.
The programme will be accompanied by a talks and cultural partnership organised with key institutions from across the city.