What to Expect at Art Basel's 2019 Conversations

Wednesday November 13, 2019

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, who will participate in one of the Conversations at this year's upcoming Art Basel
Paul Mpagi Sepuya, who will participate in one of the Conversations at this year's upcoming Art Basel  (Source:Art Basel)

As part of the 2019 Conversations program for Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB), which brings together artists, gallerists, collectors, activists, academics, cultural figures, and others to discuss topical issues that intersect with contemporary art and the art market, expect something different and personal from the participants.

Moderators and panelists have been asked to reserve time to discuss the possible productive ways to move forward on their panel's topic.

"Specifically, what are the participants doing themselves, or what might the audience do, with this information? For a discussion on a social or political issue, for example, what are the real-world actions people can implement to respond productively? Or in a discussion on an artist's practice, how can people support that artist's work if it speaks to them?" writes Art Basel advisor Ed Winkleman on the event's website.

"Some of the topics in this year's program are admittedly much larger and more serious than the contemporary art market, such as the regressive legislation cropping up in many US states aimed at taking away women's reproductive rights, and the international rise of nationalism and the violence it has begun to unleash," Winkleman adds. "While some may feel that discussing these issues in the context of an art fair trivializes them, I would argue that as long as artists are dealing with these subjects in their work, we owe it to them to facilitate a context where they can be discussed openly and honestly."

Amongst the topics to be discussed this year are the ethics of museum funding, the direction LGBTQIA+ culture is heading 50 years after the Stonewall riots, how to challenge climate-change denial, and how social-media standards often clash with artists' freedom of expression.

"It is our sincere hope that our audience will take away not only a better understanding of how influential figures both within the artworld and beyond are thinking about these matters, but also what they personally can do with the information being shared," writes Winkleman.

"In addition to a panel on the influence and legacy of Carolee Schneemann, we are fortunate to have some of the most influential and up-and-coming contemporary artists, writers, and thinkers in this year's program, including Rirkrit Tiravanija, Precious Okoyomon, Nicole Eisenman, Marilyn Minter, Nandipha Mntambo, Lotic (J'Kerian Morgan), Sharmistha Ray, AA Bronson, Carlos Motta, Judith Bernstein, Narcissister, Alexis Rockman, Allison Janae Hamilton, Spencer Tunick, Agnieszka Kurant, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Zanele Muholi, Mike Dorning, and David Wallace-Wells."

Conversations takes place December 5-7 in the auditorium of the MBCC. The full program can be found here. The panels are free to attend and open to the public.

Art Basel

This story is part of our special report titled Art Basel. Want to read more? Here's the full list.

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