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With its 98,000 visitors last year, the 47th edition of Art Basel is stronger than ever, continuing as the most significant international meeting place for the art world, connecting the world’s foremost galleries, artists, experts, and patrons. The fair’s development has been relentless with, of course, the creation of Art Basel Miami Beach in 2002 and Art Basel Hong Kong in 2013, successfully securing influence on American and Asian continents.
This steady expansion has since been nurtured in less expected ways with the launch of Art Basel’s Crowdfunding initiative in 2014, which has backed 38 projects to date, with a cumulative $1 million raised from 6,791 backers. Its current campaign, Lettera27, a non-profit based in Milan, supports the right to literacy and education, with specific focus on the African continent. Funds collected during the campaign, which ends June 25, will go to AtWork—a workshop for Ethiopian students and creative talents led by international curator Simon Njami. The notebooks produced during the workshop will be exhibited at the fourth edition of the Addis Foto Fest in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in December 2016.
This year, the fair launched Art Basel Cities, a new initiative that allows the fair to take a more active cultural role. Art Basel Cities will use the fair’s expertise, network, and communication channels to support cities in developing their individual cultural landscape. In addition to hosting art events in partner locations, the program will bring projects from these cities back to the Art Basel fairs, providing them with additional platforms and engaging with international audiences. The initiative is designed for cities that have either an emerging or established cultural scene, and a strong commitment to ascertaining themselves as an international cultural destination. A newly formed advisory board, consisting of art world figures with expertise across various disciplines, will work alongside Art Basel’s Director of Business Initiatives, Patrick Foret, to develop this new strategic initiative. Members of the board include: David Adjaye, Füsun Eczacıbaşı, Richard Florida, Jacques Herzog, Sam Keller, William Lim, Simon Mordant AM, Lars Nittve, Anne Pasternak, Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Dennis Scholl, Uli Sigg, and Michael Tay.
And while attending the fair in June, don’t miss Zome Alloy, on view in the fair’s Messeplatz, which will house a series of events throughout the week. The architectural installation by Oscar Tuazon is a recreation of Steve Bauer’s Zome House based on the Zome modeling system, and is also inspired by Bauer’s designed Drop City, now recognized as the first rural commune of the 1960s. The structure references early experiments with solar technology and recycled materials, speaking to a green economy and a new generation of DIYers. Perhaps Zome Alloy will be a good indicator of the selection sensitivities of Art Basel Cities’ board members, and of where Art Basel is heading more generally as a culturally active player.