International News Digest

FEBRUARY 21

With both a new hall and a partial redevelopment of Art Basel’s original venue, architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron have tried to update the fair’s space to correspond with its status as a “global-live-marketing enterprise,” noted the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. The major challenge for the architects was to revamp the enclosed entrance with a contemporary design. The new plans, which cost over $460 million, feature an entire renovation of the facade and the entryway of the original building. The result of the additions have added over 400,000 square feet in exhibition space. Visitors entering the fair will first encounter the circular “City Lounge,” which will consist of a bar and restaurant as well as a twenty-five-thousand-seat event hall. The showrooms will be tinted, as the new façade of the building radiates natural sunlight from outside, an aspect of the new design’s emphasis on sustainability.

Meanwhile, in Der Standard, Olga Kronsteiner reflected on the major shift in the business model of auction houses. Kronsteiner noted that the increasing amount of revenue made by private art sales has begun to dwarf profits gained by public auction. She cited the annual release of Christie’s 2012 fiscal records, which disclosed that its private sales reached upward of one billion dollars last year, surpassing 2011’s record of $814.6 million by 26 percent. Sotheby’s annual report, which will be published at the end of this month, is expected to reflect a similar trend. The findings follow recent news that Sotheby’s Canada will end its live-auction program entirely, instead focusing on private sales. These changes reflecting a shifting customer base, wrote Der Standard, caused by the growing competitive market of private buyers and the shrinking margins of traditional live auction house sales.

The Bergen Assembly, the new triennial slated to take place in the Norwegian city this fall, has announced some surprising new details about its upcoming edition this fall. For one, the festival asserts that it will not be run by curators in a traditional sense, but rather will recruit Ekaterina Degot and David Riff as “conveners.” The difference? Degot and Riff will use a “research-based methodology” and initiate “conclaves” of other artists and thinkers who will then collaborate on projects. According to the triennial’s website, the name of its upcoming edition, “Monday Begins on Saturday,” comes from “the title of a novel by Soviet sci-fi writers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky about a fictitious research institute staffed by a motley assemblage of fairytale beings and mad scientists who are trying to solve the problem of human happiness through magic.” The website also notes, “A montage of newly commissioned artists’ projects and historical material, punctuated with fragments from literature, and quasi-fictional curatorial annotations, the assembly is conceived as an aggregate or archipelago of fictitious research institutes—a little like the departments in the novel—‘hosted’ by existing institutions in Bergen.”