Philipp Kaiser To Curate Public Sector at Art Basel in Miami

2017 marks the first year that Philipp Kaiser, independent curator and critic, will curate the Public sector at Art Basel in Miami Beach. Framed around the theme ‘Territorial’, the sector will transform Collins Park into an outdoor exhibition space, featuring 11 site-responsive works by established and emerging artists: Frida Baranek, Yto Barrada, Daniel Buren, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Philippe Decrauzat, Noël Dolla, Cyprien Gaillard, Daniel Knorr, Harold Mendez, Manuela Viera-Gallo and Brenna Youngblood. In addition, Jim Shaw and his D’red D’warf band will present the premiere of ‘The Rinse Cycle’, a progressive rock opera ten years in the making. Art Basel, whose Lead Partner is UBS, takes place at the Miami Beach Convention Center from December 7 to December 10, 2017.

Commenting on the theme of this year’s sector – ‘Territorial’ – Philipp Kaiser notes, ‘Since time immemorial, sculpture has been territorial, commanding and authoritarian. Even when sculpture is presented with utmost restraint and elegance, it asserts its own physical space that we inevitably must share with it.’ The works selected for Public address this aspect of sculpture as the pieces claim space or territory through size, scale, intensity and sound, among other artistic practices. The theme is also a reference to a specific historical discourse from the 1960s in which artists of different nationalities became interested in new sites for their sculptures that existed outside of traditional art institutions.

Philipp Kaiser. © Pro Helvetia/Ennio Leanza

Incorporating elements of sound and motion, ‘Les Guirlandes’ by Daniel Buren (b. 1938) will be one of the centerpieces of this year’s sector. The restaging of this historic work, which originally debuted at Documenta 7 in 1982, will feature decorative striped flag garlands strung across Collins Park. Loudspeakers will play musical samples in chronological order – from the baroque operas of Jean-Baptiste Lully to the ragtime of Scott Joplin – that will be systematically interrupted by the recitation of words for colors in 14 different languages. Buren’s display will at once imbue the surrounding space with a playful and festive ambience and present a pointed critique of our era’s widespread nationalism.

In the works of Abraham Cruzvillegas (b. 1968) and Yto Barrada (b. 1971), both artists draw upon personal experiences from their hometowns to comment upon economic and political concerns. Cruzvillegas’ ‘Self-reconstructed Ellipsis’ will be comprised of three wooden structures based on shelters from Colonia Ajusco in Mexico City, where the artist grew up. Referencing the collaborative and improvisatory building tactics often used in the neighborhood, the installation will be made from bare timber and raw pieces of wood that will support angled roofs of tarred, fluted cardboard sheets. ‘Syrinx (Plumber Assemblage)’ by Barrada will present a series of sculptures created from plumbing materials acquired from the Grand Socco in the artist’s home of Tangier. Including pipes, faucets and spigots, these plumbing elements are often used by out-of-work plumbers to signal their availability for hire and serve as a public display for the city’s struggling workers.

Everyday objects are also used to reference larger social issues in Manuela Viera- Gallo’s (b. 1977) piece, ‘Domestic Violence: Matriz Nula’, which translates the fears, pains and experiences of women who are survivors of domestic violence. In the installation, fragmented and broken ceramic dishes and cups are lashed together to create a serialized sequence of ornaments. The objects look dangerous – sharp, pointed and capable of harm – yet they hang silent and inert, proof of a violent action that has already taken place and the concealed tragedy of domestic violence on a global scale.

Additional political works in Public include ‘KOE’, a video work by Cyprien Gaillard (b. 1980), which comments on the implications of territorial shifts and displacements. The film follows a flock of exotic parakeets that originate from Africa and Asia but were brought to Europe to be kept as pets and have since founded an ecological niche in the urban wilderness of Dusseldorf, Germany. ‘Jaulas’ by Harold Mendez (b. 1977) will feature a grouping of found animal cages that together present various narratives of conflict and address questions of freedom and existence. Arranged in a circular composition, each cage holds a stone sculpture of an animal that has been demolished, broken apart and deteriorated so that only fragments of the sculpture are left, as if the animals have each been in a quarrel.

In her first sculpture in bronze, Brenna Youngblood (b. 1979) explores the relationship between language and identity. The title of the piece, ‘M.I.A’, signifies both personal and political events – the acronym used for soldiers missing in battle, a reference to the artist’s 2011 exhibition at Honor Fraser Gallery titled ‘The Mathematics of an Individual Achievement’ and finally, a reference to the Montgomery Improvement Association, a group co-organized by Martin Luther King, Jr. to guide the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott protest.

Referencing Piero Manzoni’s upside-down pedestal ‘Socle du Monde’ from 1961, ‘Navel of the World’ by Daniel Knorr (b. 1968) revives Manzoni’s practice of signalizing a singular point, situating it within a political sphere. The ‘navel of the world’ is a popular term for the center of the earth. In many cultures, this point is set at the intersection of mystical coordinates. The act of piercing also has a complex history and appeared as early as 7000 B.C. It was used to distinguish between cultural backgrounds or class status. Piercing ‘the most important point of the world’ is an act of humanizing the earth, also shifting its meaning to the level of contemporary body consciousness.

Public will also feature works that investigate elements of urban and natural landscapes. ‘Reflections on the Horizon’ by Brazilian artist Frida Baranek (b. 1961) builds upon the artist’s interest in the horizon line, particularly its vastness and intangibility. The installation will be composed of several manila rope bundles that are each affixed to colored, transparent and engraved acrylic disks. Visitors are invited to pick up the disks and gaze through them, as each one generates a different perspective and sensation of the landscape in Collins Park. Noël Dolla (b. 1945), who was a member of the revolutionary Supports/Surfaces group from the late 1960s and 1970s which took painting to a more conceptual level in response to the reactionary climate post-1968, will present ‘Restructuration Spatiale n°15’, an installation that can be seen as a continuation of ‘Rêve éveillé’, a dialogue that began in the enchanting enclosed gardens of the Petit Palais in Paris.

Philippe Decrauzat (b. 1974) will explore the principles of tensegrity – an architectural coinage from the 1950s that refers to a structure’s tensional integrity – in two sculptures titled ‘Orator’ and ‘Shut and Open at the Same Time’. These works build upon Decrauzat’s appropriation of the historic avant-garde as a means to explore questions of visual and spatial perception that are closer to the digital era. The two sculptures present the transition of the same form from a two-dimensional to a three-dimensional object and play with the boundaries between line and surface.

As part of Public, Jim Shaw (b.1952) will premier his much anticipated progressive rock opera ‘The Rinse Cycle’. Shaw, who recently had solo shows at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, The New Museum in New York and the Marciano Foundation in Los Angeles, has worked on the opera for ten years and with his band D’red D’warf will perform the first two parts of the opera that combine written music with improvisation, prehistoric chanting and spoken word, accompanied by visuals made by Shaw specifically for the performance. Taking place at SoundScape Park on Wednesday evening, December 6, the opera is free of charge and open to the public.

Public artworks:

Frida Baranek, Reflections on the Horizon, 2017, Galeria Raquel Arnaud Yto Barrada, Syrinx (Plumber Assemblage), 2015-2017, Sfeir-Semler Gallery Daniel Buren, Les Guirlandes, 1982-2017, Bortolami Abraham Cruzvillegas, Self Reconstructed Ellipsis, 2016, Regen Projects, kurimanzutto Philippe Decrauzat, Orator and Shut and Open at the Same Time, 2016, Parra & Romero Noël Dolla, Restructuration Spatiale n°15, Ceysson & Bénétière Cyprien Gaillard, KOE, 2015, Sprüth Magers, Gladstone Gallery Daniel Knorr, Navel of the World, 2017, Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, Meyer Riegger Harold Mendez, Jaulas, 2017, Patron Manuela Viera-Gallo, Domestic Violence: Matriz Nula, 2017, Instituto de visión Brenna Youngblood, M.I.A., 2017, Honor Fraser

Public Sector Special Performance: Wednesday, December 6, 8pm to 9pm, SoundScape Park Free public access

Jim Shaw and D’red D’warf, The Rinse Cycle: Parts One & Two, Presented with the support of Blum & Poe, Metro Pictures, and Simon Lee Gallery.

The Public sector is supported by MGM Resorts Art & Culture. More information on the sector is available at


About Philipp Kaiser Philipp Kaiser is an independent curator and critic, who has previously served as the Director of the Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Senior Curator at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Head of Contemporary Art at Kunstmuseum Basel / Museum für Gegenwartskunst. Swissborn and Los Angeles-based, Kaiser has curated numerous noteworthy exhibitions throughout his career. Recently he curated ‘Women of Venice – Carol Bove and Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler’ at the Swiss Pavilion of the 57th Venice Biennale, the inaugural exhibitions at the Marciano Foundation in Los Angeles, and ‘Cindy Sherman – Imitation of Life’ at the Wexner Art Center. In addition to his curatorial work, Kaiser has lectured extensively on the subject of art history, edited publications and written catalogue essays, reviews and articles throughout his career.

About the Public sector Public sector tours will be offered daily from Wednesday, December 6 to Sunday, December 10 at 2pm starting from the On-site Info Point (no reservation required). Free with the Bass membership or Art Basel VIP Card. Private, group and school-group tours will be offered by reservation.

On Friday, December 8, 2017 from 5pm to 6pm Philipp Kaiser will moderate a panel discussion as part of the Conversations program. Focused on the Public sector and titled ‘Public Territories’, the panel will feature the artists Yto Barrada and Daniel Knorr.

About Art Basel Founded in 1970 by gallerists from Basel, Art Basel today stages the world’s premier art shows for Modern and contemporary art, sited in Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong. Defined by its host city and region, each show is unique, which is reflected in its participating galleries, artworks presented, and the content of parallel programming produced in collaboration with local institutions for each edition.

Art Basel’s engagement has expanded beyond art fairs through a number of new initiatives. In 2014, Art Basel launched its Crowdfunding Initiative, in collaboration with Kickstarter. This initiative presents jury-selected art projects to potential benefactors, which include Art Basel’s vibrant audience and the Kickstarter community. The initiative has catalyzed much-needed support for outstanding non-commercial art projects worldwide and so far has helped pledge over $2 million to creative projects around the world. For Art Basel Cities, launched in 2016, Art Basel is working with selected partner cities to develop vibrant and content-driven programs specific to the individual city. Connecting them to the global art world through Art Basel’s expertise and network, Art Basel Cities supports its partners to develop their unique cultural landscape. For further information, please visit

Partners UBS, global Lead Partner of Art Basel, has supported the organization for more than 20 years. As Art Basel’s global network expanded, UBS increased its lead partnership to include all three shows. In addition, UBS has a long and substantial record of engagement in contemporary art: as a holder of one of the world’s most distinguished corporate art collections, as an active partner in global contemporary art projects such as the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, and as a source of information and insights through the UBS Arts Forum and the art news-focused app ‘Planet Art’ app. In March 2017, UBS and Art Basel co-published the Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report by Clare McAndrew. Find more details at

Art Basel’s Associate Partners, supporting all three shows, are MGM Resorts International – one of the world’s leading entertainment companies with a long-standing commitment to presenting and supporting art in public spaces; Audemars Piguet, whose expanding activities in contemporary art include the Audemars Piguet Art Commission; and NetJets – the world leader in private aviation. Art Basel is also supported globally by BMW, who has co-developed with Art Basel the BMW Art Journey, and Ruinart, Official Champagne Partner.

MGM Resorts Art & Culture also supports Art Basel in Miami Beach’s Public sector. MGM Resorts International has a long-held commitment to the arts, showcased throughout the company’s resorts around the globe. Each art installation, collection and partnership that MGM Resorts Art & Culture has realized over the years, carefully considers the artist, the environment and the overall experience. For further information, please visit

Additionally, Art Basel’s show in Miami Beach is supported by Show Partner Douglas Elliman Development Marketing, the leading sales and marketing firm of luxury residential new development properties. Art Basel welcomes Yvel as new Lounge Host Partner, Marriott International and Buenos Aires City Government as new Official Partner and BDDW as the Official Partner of the Collectors Lounge’s Furniture and Interiors. Kannoa is the Art Basel in Miami Beach Official outdoor Furniture Partner and the Official Hotel

Partners are Nautilus, a Sixty Hotel, The Betsy South Beach and W South Beach. Art Basel’s global Media Partner is The Financial Times. For further information about partnerships, please visit