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Exploring the Art of Cinema: The Film Sector at Art Basel 2023

Art Basel, the renowned international art fair, is not just about paintings and sculptures. It goes beyond traditional art forms to embrace the captivating world of film. The Film program at Art Basel 2023 promises to be an extraordinary experience, curated by the insightful Filipa Ramos, in collaboration with Marian Masone. During our interview, Ramos shares her enthusiasm and the challenges faced in adapting to the pandemic's context, emphasizing the innovative strategies employed to continue the program.

Filipa Ramos

One significant change introduced by Ramos was a shift towards a focus on specific artists rather than general programming. Each day of the Film program is dedicated to exploring the works of a particular artist, allowing visitors to immerse themselves deeply in their creative journey. Ramos explained, "Each day you will see a series of films by a single artist. So you would come out of the cinema thinking, okay, now I've had a good sense of what this person is working on."

This year, Art Basel's Film program will span a broad spectrum, featuring both renowned veterans and young talents. The lineup boasts the likes of Simone Forti, the Raqs Media Collective and Judd Tully and Harold Crooks, who have made a documentary on the art of artist David Hammons, and other pioneers alongside fresh voices such as Mika Rottenberg or Ayoung Kim. The program promises to take audiences on a captivating journey, traversing the diverse landscapes of artists’ cinema. One of the highlights of this year's Film program is an evening dedicated to artist Nan Goldin, an influential figure renowned for her activism and exceptional artistry. The program features a documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Laura Poitras, titled "All the Beauty and the Bloodshed," which offers a moving and striking portrait of Goldin's life and work. Additionally, Goldin's own piece, "Sirens," will be showcased, providing a unique opportunity to witness her creativity firsthand. Another must-see is a tribute to the acclaimed choreographer and dancer Simone Forti, a recipient of the 2023 Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale. This rare occasion presents a captivating fusion of dance and film, with screenings of Forti's dance pieces from the "News Animations" series, which have rarely been seen on the big screen.

The Film program at Art Basel prides itself on promoting diversity and inclusivity, representing a wide range of artistic practices. Ramos emphasizes the importance of gender, age, nationality, and identity diversity in the selection process. By dedicating entire years to underrepresented artists, Ramos and her team have successfully created a platform that showcases diverse voices and bridges the gap between the commercial and the unconventional.

Films play a vital role in the context of a large-scale art fair like Art Basel. Ramos highlights the unique experience film offers, providing a contrast to the bustling atmosphere of the fair. Visitors can immerse themselves in the darkness of the cinema, free from distractions, and engage with art on a deeper level. This space offers relaxation, contemplation, and a profound connection with artworks. As Ramos passionately stated, "The film sector offers a complementary experience to that of the fair. You don't see anyone because you're in the darkness, you're in a very calm environment... It's a place where you relax and immerse yourself in artworks in a very different way."

Simone Forti, News Animation with Manny The Rabbit, Dance Theater Workshop (film still), 1988.

Courtesy Simone Forti, The BOX Gallery, Los Angeles and Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan

Raqs Media Collective, The Bicyclist Who Fell into a Time Cone (film still), 2023

Film commissioned by The Jencks Foundation. Courtesy Raqs Media Collective and Frith Street Gallery, London

Penny Siopis, She Breathes Water (film still), 2019

Copyright Penny Siopis, courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Amsterdam

Ayoung Kim, Delivery Dancer’s Sphere (film still), 2022

Courtesy Ayoung Kim and Gallery Hyundai


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