Art Basel’s Conversations series presents stimulating panel discussions on topics concerning the global contemporary art scene. Prominent members of the international artworld – artists, gallerists, curators, collectors, architects, critics, and many other cultural figures – each offer unique perspectives on producing, collecting, and exhibiting art. Programmed by Mari Spirito, Founding Director of Protocinema, Istanbul/New York.

Thursday, December 6

10am - 11:30am
Premiere Artist Talk | Allora & Calzadilla

Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla,Artist Duo, Puerto Rico
Manuel Cirauqui, Curator, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla are a collaborative duo based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, whose work addresses the intersections between cultural, historical, and geopolitical concerns, and includes performance, sculpture, sound, video, and photography. In 2011, they represented the US at the 54th Venice Biennale, and earlier this year had a major exhibition at Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona and MAXXI, Rome. Previous works include a long term-site specific commission with Dia Art Foundation in a cave in Puerto Rico (Puerto Rican Light [Cueva Vientos], 2015); and a performance work in the collection of MoMA involving a pianist playing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy from within the soundboard of a modified Bechstein Piano (Stop, Repair, Prepare, 2008). Here, they discuss their work with Manuel Cirauqui, curator at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

1pm – 2pm
Collector Talk | Private Institutions and Art Education

Julieta González, Director, Museo Jumex, Mexico City
Ella Fontanals-Cisneros, Philanthropist and Entrepreneur, Miami
J. Tomilson Hill, Philanthropist, and Vice Chairman, Blackstone Group, New York
Moderated by Shumon Basar Writer, Editor, and Curator, Berlin/Dubai

An increasing number of private art institutions are expanding their activities beyond putting on exhibitions, often by implementing art-education programs. In times of declining resources for education in the public realm, private initiatives like these are gaining importance and filling the void left by public organizations. But how do these educational programs contribute to the public-art discourse and what motivates patrons to initiate them?

2:30pm – 3:30pm
Museum Talk | 21st-Century Audiences

Lisa Phillips, Toby Devan Lewis Director, New Museum, New York
Gary Tinterow, Director, Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pritzker Director, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Moderated by Arthur Cohen, CEO, LaPlaca Cohen, New York

In a period of rapid societal upheaval brought on by demographic change, generational shift, and the impact of new media, museums are facing increasing challenges to remain relevant to a 21st‐century audience. This talk examines the main issues arising from this shift, and the strategies major public institutions have developed to stay relevant to both traditional and new audiences.

4pm- 5pm
Collector Talk | Changing Times, Changing Collections

Bridgitt Evans, Co-founder and President, VIA Art Fund, Boston John Hoffman, Art Collector, Kansas City Moderated by Josh Baer, Advisor and Publisher, Baer Faxt, New York

Our times have been defined by radical political shifts. They influence most of our society’s sectors, from technology to culture, and also have an impact on the economic situation, which has affected the buying behavior of institutions and collectors. So what factors are patrons and museums currently taking into account when they decide to support a new artist, and how are collections responding to political change? Have high-level art advisors witnessed a significant change in the choices their customers are making? And what role are new artistic and curatorial voices playing in the shaping of collecting institutions?

5:30pm - 6:30pm
Museum Talk | Looking Towards Sustainable Funding Structures in Latin America

Gabriela Garza, Art Collector, Mexico City
Alec Oxenford, President arteBA Fundación, Art Collector, and Founder, OLX & Letgo, Buenos Aires
Joel Yoss, Co-founder and Artistic Director, Proyecto Amil, Lima
María Mercedes González, Director, Museum of Modern Art, Medellín

Moderated by Chris Sharp, Independent Writer and Curator, Mexico City

The significant economic changes shaking up Latin America are having a direct impact on culture and cultural institutions, with the artists, gallerists, patrons, and museum directors based in this region making moves to respond to the new financial climate. Now may be the time to do more with less. With this in mind, what are the specific needs and proposals for new funding structures in Central and South America? And what role are artists playing in the reorganization of civic life? Responsive funding structures often act on a local level, but are there any networks that have the potential to provide support and funding on a larger scale?

Friday, December 7

10am – 11:30am
Artist Talk | Artists’ Influencers

Christo, Artist, New York
Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director, Serpentine Galleries, London
Tomás Saraceno, Artist, Berlin

Conceived by Hans Ulrich Obrist, this series brings together artists to discuss the people and moments that have significantly influenced the development of their artistic practice. For this edition, Obrist will be in conversation with the New York-based artist Christo, a major figure in the artworld who, together with his late wife Jeanne-Claude, has influenced generations. Earlier this year, Cristo presented The Mastaba for Serpentine Lake, the temporary floating sculpture in Hyde Park, London, for the Serpentine gallery, which was a culmination of more than 60 years of working with stacked barrels. Currently on view at Pérez Art Museum Miami is the documentary exhibition ‘Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980–83’. Following this conversation, Obrist talks to Tomás Saraceno, a Berlin-based artist originally from Buenos Aires. Saraceno is celebrated for his large-scale, floating, interactive installations, which are seated in science and nature, and use wind, weather balloons, and spiders.

1pm - 2pm
Art Market Talk | The Future of the Artist and Gallerist Relationship

Howard Read,Co-founder, Cheim & Read, New York
Irene Kopelman, Artist, Amsterdam
Kibum Kim, Partner, Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles
Edward Winkleman, Art Dealer and Art Fair Founder, New York

Over the past decade, the contemporary-art-gallery world has undergone substantial changes. While some galleries have found themselves forced to shut up shop, others have been able to keep growing exponentially. Whatever the situation, most are rethinking how they should be representing artists and dealing with their clientele. Defining the gallery model of the future is therefore becoming an increasingly relevant question. So what does the ideal future-gallery model look like and what is required to develop a sustainable model that will satisfy all involved parties in the long run?

2:30pm – 3:30pm
Art Market Talk | Which Art Problems can Blockchain Solve?

Ruth Catlow, Co-founder, Furtherfield/DECAL, London
Matt Hall, Co-founder, Cryptopunks, New York
Harm van den Dorpel, Artist, Berlin
Orit Gat, Writer, New York/London

Following the Art Basel Conversation ‘Blockchain and the Art World’, this panel addresses the general misconceptions of the various purposes of the digital system. What are the social and political implications of decentralized financial networks, is blockchain a reliable source for fundraising, and how are artists using it in their artistic practice? In this talk, specialists in the field will look at the specificities of blockchain and the problems it may, or may not, be able to solve.

4pm – 5pm
Artworld Talk | VR, Celebrity, and Innovation

Masha Faurschou,Partner, Khora Contemporary, Copenhagen
Jacolby Satterwhite, Artist, New York
François Quintin, Director, Fondation Entreprise Galeries Lafayette - Lafayette Anticipations, Paris
Elvia Wilk,Writer and Editor, New York

Virtual reality (VR) art is on the rise, offering audiences a new way to immerse themselves in artistic practices. For this talk, artists and experts come together to discuss the latest conceptual and technological developments in the field, and examine what makes a great VR artwork, as well as which artists are using the medium most skillfully. Is it true that funding for VR art often comes from large companies and corporations that would rather support celebrity artists than young talents? And how do young artists find support for this sort of work? Crucially, can a technology undergoing such a rapid evolution be understood and appreciated by an audience who might not be aware of its technical intricacies?

5:30pm – 6:30pm
Biennial Talk | How Is Private Funding Affecting Biennials?

Michelle Grabner,Artist, and Artistic Director, Front International, Cleveland
Diana Nawi, Independent Curator, Los Angeles, and Co-Artistic Director, Prospect.5, New Orleans
Nicolas Bourriaud,Curator, 2019 Istanbul Biennale, and Director, Montpellier Contemporain, Montpellier Moderated by
Mark Rappolt, Editor-in-Chief ArtReview and ArtReview Asia, London

Long considered non-commercial mega-shows, biennials have usually been run with public funds and ambition. Their mission has always been to promote cultural engagement and education, and initially, they were financed by taxes and local investors; major fundraising initiatives or sales of artworks were not required. However, the biennial ecosystem has been hit hard by the accelerated leaning of the artworld towards privatization and commodification, making sales and co-production a necessity. This talk looks at how privatization is affecting curatorial practices at the highest level today and how biennial curators are adapting to this global condition.

Saturday, December 8

10am – 11:30am
Museum Talk | What is the Role of Museums in the Age of Political Polarization?

Franklin Sirmans, Director, Pérez Art Museum, Miami
Amy Sadao,Daniel W. Dietrich II Director, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Larry Wheeler, Director Emeritus, North Carolina Museum of Art, North Carolina

Moderated by András Szántó, Author and Cultural Strategy Consultant, New York

Throughout the world, museums are confronting a new, polarized political landscape. The forces of nationalism, nativism, and anti-globalism are on the rise, challenging many of the assumptions of inclusivity on which museums have been built. So how should museums navigate this new landscape? Should they openly engage in contemporary politics, thereby risking the prospect of having to take sides and being pulled into contentious debates, or should they offer a refuge from ideology and social conflict, which could leave them appearing aloof and disengaged? What are the roles and responsibilities of art institutions during a time like this?

1pm – 2pm
Artworld Talk | Feminism – The Global View

Billie Zangewa, Artist, Johannesburg
Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, Independent Curator, Los Angeles Moderated by
Maura Reilly, Curator and Arts Writer, New York

Gender equality and feminism have become increasingly central to the discourses shaping contemporary culture. This panel examines the impact of two major traveling exhibitions related to the topic: ‘Radical Women’, originated by the Hammer Museum, LA; and ‘We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85’, originated by the California African American Museum, LA. Both shows have been on view in multiple institutions worldwide and have received a great amount of media coverage. But how have these exhibitions affected individuals from the communities of the various locations they took place, and has their impact led to any positive developments?

2:30pm – 3:30pm
Artist Talk | Judy Chicago

Judy Chicago,Artist, New Mexico
Jeffrey Deitch, Art Dealer and Curator, New York

Judy Chicago is a leading Feminist artist, writer, and educator. Her famous collective work The Dinner Party (1974–79) is permanently installed at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, New York. Chicago pioneered Feminist art and art education through a unique program for women at California State University, Fresno, a pedagogical approach that she has continued to develop over the years. She has exhibited worldwide and is the author of numerous books. Her feminist and humanist work fights against injustices to all living beings and stands as impactful now as it was five decades ago. During this talk, Chicago discusses her artistic practice, what it means to be a feminist and where we stand now in the struggle for gender equality and the recognition of female artists.

4pm – 5pm
Museum Talk | Activism and the Institution

Jodi Throckmorton,Curator of Contemporary Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia
Christopher Bedford, Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore

Moderated by Julia Halperin, Executive Editor, artnet, New York

Political and social activism has been gaining traction in many parts of the world in recent years, achieving new significance both in everyday life and cultural spheres. Public scrutiny of the internal mechanisms that dictate how organizations are run, whether corporations or museums, has increased, which has had an impact on the relationship between activists and these bodies. So how does this kind of activism influence the way museums function? And how have artists’ sensitivities towards race and gender changed? The talk also considers how institutions’ boards and staff are adapting to the rapidly growing concerns raised by their art communities and the general public, as well as how exhibitions and collections are reflecting these shifts.

5:30pm – 6:30pm
Museum Talk | Diversifying Collections – Indigenous Art

Jeffrey Gibson, Artist, New York J
ohn P. Lukavic, Curator of Native Arts, Denver Art Museum, Denver
Wanda Nanibush, Curator, Indigenous Art, and Co-head of Indigenous and Canadian Art Department, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto

Moderated by Jami Powell, Associate Curator of Native American Art, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth

Recognition of and rights for the indigenous peoples of the Americas are growing, albeit too little, too late. Yet credit is due to those who have been fighting for progress and have achieved results. Public and private institutions across the Americas are increasingly eager to include early and contemporary art by indigenous artists in their collections, and this panel brings together multiple perspectives of the subject to address the current situation. The questions considered include what hurdles need to be overcome when collecting indigenous art and, with the growing inclusion of indigenous artists in collections, how has the public perception of them changed? Is racial equality being affected on a broader scale by the diversification of collections? And what needs to happen for further institutional diversification to be achieved?

Sunday, December 9

10am – 11:30am
Artist Talk | The Artist and the Gallerist

Robin F. Williams, Artist, New York
Wendy Olsoff, Co-owner, P.P.O.W., New York Moderated by
Julieta Aranda,Artist, and Founder, e-flux, Berlin/New York

This long-standing panel looks at the dynamics within the relationship between the artist Robin F. Williams and gallerist Wendy Olsoff. The conversation offers a frank and informal insight into the unique and fundamental relationship between artist and gallerist. It considers the factors needed for a strong professional and personal relationship, and looks at the hurdles that need to be overcome to maintain it long-term, as well as the way roles shift, if at all, over time. In addition, Williams and Olsoff share how they met, how they came to work together, and how their relationship works now.

1pm – 2pm
Creative Cities Talk | Art Districts and the Community

Tiffany Chestler, Director of Cultural Programming, Dacra, Miami
Ricardo Porrero, Founder, Codigo Magazine and Gallery Weekend Mexico, Mexico City
Claudia Altman-Siegel, Founder, Altman Siegel, San Francisco

Moderated by Lloyd Wise, Senior Editor, Artforum, New York

Miami, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Los Angeles – art and design districts are sprouting up in cities around the world and transforming urban spaces as well as city life. But what catalyzed the creation of these new districts and exactly how are they shaping urban environments? Just as importantly, what is the districts’ impact on the communities around them and how can they eventually serve them?

2:30pm – 3:30pm
Artworld Talk | Performance as Repair

Nato Thompson, Sueyun and Gene Locks Artistic Director, Philadelphia Contemporary, Philadelphia
Sara Reisman, Executive and Artistic Director, Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, New York
Faith Wilding, Artist, and Co-chair, Visual Art Program, Vermont College of Fine Arts, Providence

Moderated by Stephanie Bailey, Editor-in-Chief, Ocula, London/Hong Kong

This panel examines ‘the performative role of language in our society’. As performance often addresses questions of power structures and agency, does the medium in fact reflect growing public interest in social activism? What role can performance art play in this field, and how are the artworld’s protagonists, including museum board members and patrons, responding to the growing role of participatory civil action in both artists’ practices and the public sphere?