Here is a glimpse of what you can expect at Art Basel's return event in Switzerland next month

Visitor capacity is capped at 20%, but organisers are bringing back both Unlimited for large-scale works and the public art trail Parcours

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Augustus Serapinas's Mudmen (2020) will be part of Parcours, presented by Emalin © Courtesy of the Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art

Augustus Serapinas's Mudmen (2020) will be part of Parcours, presented by Emalin © Courtesy of the Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art

Details of what can be expected at Art Basel (24-26 September) as it returns to the Messeplatz next month (postponed from June) have so far been scant. But the organisers have today released a glimpse of the programming we can expect.

"The scale and ambition of this year's Unlimited and Parcours are testament to the dedication of our participating galleries," says Marc Spiegler, the global director of Art Basel. "They are boldly presenting complex projects, many conceived before the pandemic, which now take on new meaning."

Aside from the 272 galleries that will be exhibiting, this year’s Unlimited, curated for the first time by Giovanni Carmine, director of the Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, will feature 62 large-scale works in the Messeplatz's Hall 1, including Carl Andre's sculpture Mastaba (1978) presented by Konrad Fischer and Lebanese artist Etel Adnan's large-scale drawing Le Soleil Toujours (2020) presented by Sfeir-Semler.

“The pandemic has amplified our need for direct engagement with the ‘originalsʼ. Our encounters with art have intensified: our attention and lust for discussion is on the rise,” Carmine says. “In this context, Unlimited turns out to be the ideal stage to experience these feelings in a real space – to relish in them, to reflect upon them.”

Julius von Bismarck's Die Mimik der Tethys (2019) will be shown in Unlimited by Sies + Höke © Julius von Bismarck, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021. Courtesy of the artist, Sies + Höke (Düsseldorf) and Alexander Levy (Berlin)

In the Messeplatz square outside the main halls, Monster Chetwynd will create a large-scale installation and performance (curated by Carmine) while Cecilia Bengolea is working on a video installation and performance to be staged within the fountain (overseen by Parcours curator Samuel Leuenberger).

Meanwhile, 20 site-specific installations and performances will be peppered across the city’s public and private spaces as part of this year’s Parcours section, all tied together under the thematic umbrella “Can We Find Happiness Together Again” and curated by Leuenberger, the founder of the non-profit exhibition space Salts in Birsfelden, Switzerland. Parcours highlights will include 12 large-scale paintings and performances by Claudia Comte (presented by Gladstone Gallery and König Galerie) at the Stadtcasino, Basel, and public walk by Hamish Fulton titled Walking in Every Direction on Basel's Marktplatz presented by Galerie Tschudi.

Both Unlimited and Parcours presentations will be featured in dedicated online viewing rooms along with a curator audio guide as part of the fair’s digital component Art Basel Live.

The film series will be curated by the writer and lecturer Filipa Ramos and New York-based film curator Marian Masone, while the conversations programme will feature a panel of Daniel Buren and Philippe Parreno, in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist.

Fair organisers have said strict Covid-19 restrictions will be put in place and enforced by the Swiss government, including a capacity capped at 20% less than in previous editions (on public days) and “all visitors to the fair need to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, provide a recent negative COVID-19 test, or be fully recovered” according to a press release.

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