Postcolonial Thoughts: Basel 2016 Pilgrimage

by Christopher Hutchinson

Art Basel in America is a 4 days art fair that is being held from 01 December 2016, Thursday to 04 December 2016, Sunday. This art fair is being organized by M. C. H. Swiss Exhibition (Basel) Limited. The venue of this event is Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC) which is situated in Miami Beach, Florida, United States of America. Art Basel in America 2016 will showcase a wide range of products and services related to art and collectibles sectors from the leading exhibitors, for example, premier paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, prints, photography, film, video, and digital art. Over 250 exhibitors are expected at this event to showcase their products and services. Over 70,000 visitors are expected at this art fair. Visitor profile of this event includes collectors, artists, dealers, curators, critics and art enthusiasts. The recurrence of Art Basel in America is annual. The first year of this art fair is 2002.




It’s always good to go to Art Basel Miami. The first time one goes as an artist one is simply overwhelmed with the quantity and quality of the works only experienced before in books. The first year your feet hurt from actually trying to see everything. You come in contact with real artworks that had a profound influence on you and are curious to see if they still have the same impact.

The art fan comes out and you are transported back to when you were purely in love with every aspect of being an artist. While you are having these spiritual encounters, thousands of people are mobbing through these spaces and they are just as zealous as you to reaffirm and acquire the impact of these art works. And while your favorite pieces are bringing back that nostalgia, two feet away is a gaudy monstrosity that has a completely jarring effect that breaks nostalgia–until two seconds later when you fall again for another piece.




You could spend everyday for a week just at the main Art Basel convention center. But there is literally tons more art to see. At the satellite fairs like SCOPE, CONTEXT, ART MIAMI etc.



These Satellite fairs are where you actually begin to see your and your peers’ work and in whose galleries. These fairs also include many of the same works at the main Basel but, for example, may contain the drawings and paintings of Richard Serra versus an actual full-scale sculpture. There is a sense of confirmation that you are on the right path. You also see the total and complete embrace of technology and art. There is a lot of 3d printed work, super-slick experimental materials, and florescent colors. This also confirms that you don’t need any of that either.


Wynwood Walls

The Wynwood Walls was conceived by the renowned community revitalizor and placemaker Tony Goldman in 2009. He was looking for something big to transform the warehouse district of Wynwood, and he arrived at a simple idea: “Wynwood’s large stock of warehouse buildings, all with no windows, would be my giant canvases to bring to them the greatest street art ever seen in one place.” Starting with the 25th–26th Street complex of six separate buildings, his goal was to create a center where people could gravitate to and explore, and to develop the area’s pedestrian potential.

The Wynwood Walls became a major art statement with Tony’s commitment to graffiti and street art, a genre that he believes is under appreciated [sic] and not respected historically. He wanted to give the movement more attention and more respect: “By presenting it in a way that has not been done before, I was able to expose the public to something they had only seen peripherally.” Murals by renowned street artists have covered the walls of the Wynwood Walls complex since 2009, and to create more canvases and bring more artists to the project, Tony opened the Wynwood Doors in 2010 with 176 feet of roll-up storefront gates. The painted exteriors and interiors of the doors reveal a portrait gallery. Murals have also been commissioned for Outside the Walls through 2011, in key locations outside the park itself.


The Wynwood Walls have changed in 2016. A couple years ago it was bouncing with grimy street/graffiti artists and the walls stayed open all night. This year there is evidence that commercialism has spread. The scene is much more conservative than years past. While you can still find graffiti artists still there doing work, it was more curated, as opposed to other years.

The Wynwood basel is on the other side, across the water from South beach. There is a definite push going all the way to little Haiti, Miami.


Prizm Art Fair

WESLEY CLARK My Big Black America 84” x 144” x 14” salvaged and stained wood 2011

My Big Black America
84” x 144” x 14”
salvaged and stained wood

Curated by Mikhaile Solomon

 Prizm Art Fair presents the work of international emerging artists with a select focus on solo presentations by artists from the Global African Diaspora. The theme for the fourth edition will explore the global impact of Africa’s cultural DNA.

Alexandra Smith, Alexis Peskine, Allison Janae Hamilton, Alonzo Davis, Amber Robles-Gordon, Ariston Jacks, Asser Saint Val, Cleveland Dean, Cosmo Whyte, Deborah Jack, Duhirwe, Ezra Wube, Felandus Thames, Francks Deceus, Ify Chiejina, Jamal Ince, James A Rush, Jayson Keeling, LaToya Hobbs, MahlOt Sansosa, Morel Doucet, Marvin Toure, Maya Amina, Musa Hixson,  Nadia Huggins, Nyugen Smith, Olalekan Jeyifous, Sharon Norwood, Shaunte Gates, Shawn Theodore, Sheena Rose, T. Eliott Mansa, Terry Boddie, Vickie Pierre, Wesley Clark, Wole Lagunju


Little Haiti is where you find the Prizm Art Fair 2016. Prizm is where you have to go to see your global African and African-American contemporaries in the same space. This means one has to travel from South Beach across the water to Wynwood and a few miles more. This still illustrates the gap between the Global African diaspora and the Western art canon. African art is still in the basement of many museums. This fact is a sobering reminder.

It was worth traveling across the water, through Wynwood, and a few miles more to see a common visual aesthetic shared by many African diaspora countries working in the same vein. The work could have been presented better but was worth it. The William Cordova curated space was especially interesting.

The most worthwhile were the panel discussions that got a little rowdy with opposing views on the actual state of the black arts movement, and a generational gap or lack there of, in that movement.


Rubell Family Collection

High Anxiety: New Acquisitions
November 30, 2016 — August 25, 2017

High Anxiety: New Acquisitions presents selections of artworks from 32 artists acquired since 2014, many of whom explore polarizing social and political concerns through a broad spectrum of contemporary artistic practices. In gauging the output and energies of these artists we find creative currents that speak to our shared state of uncertainty, nervousness and pessimism. “Artists help us comprehend and grapple with the critical issues in our lives,” says Mera Rubell.


The Rubell Family Collection consistently provides a challenging and pointed view every year. It’s a great space to cleanse the palette and reset after seeing so much art at Basel. The space and lighting are ideal to view the work. And the mob isn’t quite as pushy. Of all the artworks you remember in a year at Basel, the ones from RFC will be amongst them.

Basel is great to recharge your theory and practice. You get a chance to engage with your art inspirations as well as recognize what the current trends are. It’s a gathering of thousands of art minds. At Basel, art dialogue and methodology is the majority. Art lectures and talks are filled with genuine interest and responses. It is the equivalent of attending 50 museums and 20 artist talks in four days. You are able see trends from Denmark to Canada. That can be overwhelming so you learn to pace yourself the next year. Making the Basel pilgrimage is a mandatory.


Christopher Hutchinson 2Christopher Hutchinson is an accomplished Jamaican conceptual artist, professor and contributor to the art community as a writer, critic and founder of the nonprofit Smoke School of Art. He is a Professor of Art at Atlanta Metropolitan State College and has been featured as a lecturer including prestigious engagements at University of Alabama and the Auburn Avenue Research Library. For two decades, Chris has been a practicing artist. His works have been exhibited in internationally recognized institutions including City College New York (CUNY) and featured at the world’s leading international galleries such as Art Basel Miami. He has always had an innate passion for creating spaces where Africans and people of African descent contribute to an inclusive contemporary dialogue—ever evolving, not reflexive but pioneering. This requires challenging the rubric of the canon of art history, a systemic space of exclusion for the Other: women and non-Whites, and where necessary he rewrites it. He received his Master of Fine Arts Degree in Painting from Savannah College of Art & Design, Atlanta and his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama.


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Categories: Art, Postcolonial Thoughts, Writing


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One Comment on “Postcolonial Thoughts: Basel 2016 Pilgrimage”

  1. December 23, 2016 at 1:58 am #

    Thank you. I’ll have to go next year .


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