Meanwhile, at Art Basel

Friday 3rd September, 2021 - Bruce Sterling

*International art events are still having a tough pandemic time of it.

Art Basel has written a letter to exhibitors in an attempt to calm nerves in the run up to the Swiss fair later this month, telling galleries it is “committed to hosting the fair under the current conditions because we firmly believe that we can do so safely.”
The missive was issued this evening in response to an open letter penned by a number of powerful US-based galleries outlining their concerns about participating in the fair after US authorities advised Americans on Monday not to travel to Switzerland. Some flights to Basel from the UK have also been cancelled.

Stringent and confusing entry restrictions for the fair—and particularly the fact the Astra Zeneca vaccine is not recognised by Swiss authorities for entry into large-scale events—have caused some concern, with the London-based (Astra Zeneca-jabbed) art advisor Emily Tsingou telling The Art Newspaper she is “appalled… we are there to work, not be judged. It will put a lot of people off.”

One exhibitor, who did not wish to be named, told The Art Newspaper earlier this week that they thought the fair should have just run in June 2022. “There’s a lot of anxiety. Many of my gallery colleagues have concerns about fairs in general this autumn, from both a health and financial perspective.” They add: “It’s a minefield. None of our clients are going [to Basel]. Galleries are stuck between a rock and a hard place—you don’t want to pull out of Art Basel and lose your place, but then it’s also about the health of your staff and what’s responsible.” They worry that some galleries “might not be able to survive the hit” if the event goes badly for them….