Sislej Xhafa AT ART BASEL UNLIMITED WITH PERFORMANCE TAKING CENTER STAGE BY RACHEL VANCELET TE
ith Art Basel Switzerland presenting over 290 galleries from all over the world this month, the fair offers some of the most immersive and impressive art installations to date. We had the opportunity to sit down with artist Sislej Xhafa who reminded us of his practice and the intense creative process of performance he uses to engage global audiences. Xhafa often reminds audiences of how important it is to take time to sit and just be with art. Xhafa will inaugurate Unlimited 2019, as part of the Art Basel experience. Xhafa’s will be the first performative work displayed in the history of Art Basel’s Unlimited Hall since its inception in 2000. The Unlimited Hall annually presents innovative monumental installations and artworks by artists
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already established and well-known, as well as a selection of new artists from international galleries worldwide. The scope of artists over the years has ranged from Frank Stella, (Levy Gorvy Gallery US) Song Dong, (Pace Gallery Korea) to Subodh Gupta’s (Hauser and Wirth Gallery India). Gupta’s “cooking for the world” displayed in Unlimited 2017 was an Instagram sensation welcoming collectors, trustees and art lovers alike to participate. The large dramatic canopy filled with shiny pots and pans greeted famous celebrities, collectors, museum curators and other elites by appointment only to sit down and feast during the duration of the fair! The artist himself cooked for the groups with personal conversations and delicious food. News recently broke that the 2019 Unlimited edition will be the last for curator Gianni Jetzer, who will leave his throne bestowing it onward to
a new curator. After years of dazzling audiences, the news shocked many artists and galleries, but before he leaves he has raised the curatorial bar once again. Jetzer stated that this year brings “a new test” to Unlimited in the form of new performative work by Kosovo born Sislej Xhafa. This new experience for Art Basel Unlimited Hall presents Xhafa’s work titled “Ovoid Solitude” (2019), challenging audiences to participate and engage for the duration of the artfair. The work will have a performer sit silently at a corrugated storefront all week, selling rows of stacked eggs. The work is presented by Galleria Continua who plans to place the work for sale, however, it may be sticker shock for any new collector visiting Unlimited this year! Performance work has arrived at Basel and definitely will impact future generations and collectors who can acquire and admire.