Basel Field Trip 2011: Day 2

Basel Day 2:

What we didn’t know when the trip was booked was that it coincided with Fasnachts’ a major 3 day traditional festival involving 10s of thousands of local participants throughout the whole city. More of Fasnacts later, but as a result of the festivities several of the cities major museums were closed Monday – Wednesday which meant we had a lot of ground to cover on Sunday. Up with the larks, we headed straight for the Kunstmuseum, the oldest public museum in Europe and its fantastic collection. Highlights of the museum included a small but equally gruesome; in comparison to the later Alter Piece; Crucifixion by Grunewald, a recently acquired Martin Kippenburger and a 1st rate collection of Modernist masters.

After a light, not on the wallet, lunch at the superb Rotten Engel (Red Angel) Café, home to the most magnificent bowl of coffee I’ve encountered anywhere, it was off to the Museum für Gegenwartskunst. The museum, the first in the world dedicated exclusively to contemporary art, is compact but beautifully designed building by architects Katharina and Wilfrid Steib with additional renovation in 2005 by Urs Gramelsbacher. The museum displays contemporary art from the collections of the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation and the Kunstmuseum. The main exhibit in the museum featured films and video installations created by the New York-based artist Pierre Huyghe, which explore the tensions between different levels of reality. On the whole these were compelling works but rumours of sleep inducement may not be wholly exaggerated. Students also enthused about the following; On Kawara’s date paintings, Simon Starling’s Autoxylopyrocycloboros’, a slideshow documenting his voyage across Loch Long in a wooden steamboat, its engine feulled with wood cut from the boat’s hull and an of course the collection of Joseph Beuys Vitrines.

Next stop was the Kunsthalle and the Swiss Architecture Museum (SAM), located in the same building, with only an hour to spare before closing. After a short debate about whether or not it was worth paying 6 francs to get in we soon discovered that it was. Three shows by Banu Cenneotğlu, Bettina Pousttchi, (Kunsthalle) and Anna Viebrock (SAM) were well worth the entrance fee. Although definitely note worthy the star of the shows were undoubtedly the rarely seen stage set models by Set / Fashion designer and director Anna Viebrock. Beautifully executed and presented the environments are constructed but maintain with a homemade feel a kind of manual / working aesthetic sometimes reminiscent of earlier Manfred Pernice sculptures. The models were shown alongside the designer’s source material, influence and development drawings revealing her process from conception to execution.

After such a full day the consensus was to return to the hostel for food and rest before a very early rise for ‘Morgenstreich’ the 4am start to the 3 day Fasnachts Festival.

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