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5 works from Art Basel Cities, Buenos Aires

Earlier this month I travelled to Argentina for a piece of work around the first ever Art Basel Cities Week, which took place in Buenos Aires - the culmination of a three-year project by Art Basel, with its global lead partner UBS, in collaboration with various Argentinian government bodies.

The central component of the week was Rayuela, curated by Cecilia Alemani. Taking place across three areas of the city, Rayuela (Spanish for ‘hopscotch’, and a reference to a novel by Argentine author Julio Cortázar) was conceived as a journey through the city of Buenos Aires, with contemporary art occupying plazas, parks, museums and derelict buildings and industrial relics. 

Here are some of the art installations that were unveiled around the city as part of Rayuela, during Art Basel Cities Week…

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Babara Kruger - Untitled (No puedes vivir sin nosotras / You Can't Live Without Us)

This is a large-scale mural painted in the colors of the Argentinian flag covering an abandoned grain silo in Puerto Madero, reading “No puedes vivir sin nosotras / poder / placer / propiedad / igualdad / empatía / independencia / duda / creencia / mujeres” (in English, “You can’t live without us / power / pleasure / property / equality / empathy / independence / doubt / belief / women”). Below, it asks: “Who owns what?” Behind the silos are the Parque Mujeres Argentinas, which was dedicated to the women of Argentina in 2007, while the neighboring streets commemorate major female figures like Juana Manso, Marta Lynch, and Manuela Sáenz.

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Eduardo Basualdo - Perspective of Absence

This work is a ‘takeover’ of an 800-meter fishing pier on the Río de la Plata. Fishermen’s huts dot the riverbank, which has been home to the Asociación Argentina de Pesca since 1934. Basualdo installed sculptural and performative installations inside the huts and along the pier for viewers to discover and interact with, culminating in a large-scale installation at the far end of the pier (pictured).  

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Maurizio Cattelan - Eternity

Hundreds of members of the Argentine public were invited to participate in this project through an open call. Art students and artists were asked to create pan-religious tombstones for people who are still living, be they friends, lovers, heroes, or fictional characters. These tombstones occupy an area within Palermo Park, creating an uncanny landscape that subverts tradition, hierarchies, the passage of time, and death. 

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David Horvitz - Señalamiento del cielo (Signaling the Sky)

This series of performance pieces saw 200 helium balloons released into the air, in three different locations, each ballon taking a spontaneous route into the air. The work illustrates man’s sublime futility in the face of nature. The aerial landscape produced by the balloons is a celebration of collective ritual and at the same time a rejection of the industrial city, as our eyes are drawn irresistibly toward the sky.

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Luciana Lamothe - Starting Zone

This open-air tower was built in a green space of the Plaza República Oriental del Uruguay. Members of the public were invited to mount the metal and plywood tower and assume a bird’s-eye view of the plaza that had never before existed. The tower is held together only by clamps – a vulnerable construction method that might leave visitors feeling a euphoric lightness, or a crippling vertigo.


Full full details on the works and the artists, read the online catalogue.

All images (c) Art Basel

Agnish Ray