An Intimate Evening
Amid Basel’s Clamor

Several of the artists who have collaborated on Art Bars on different occasions were in attendance, such as Jeremy Shaw, Adrian Wong, Michael Riedel, and Ryan Gander

Stepping out of the rainy evening streets and into the cozy space of the Galerie at Volkshaus Basel, I hardly recognized the place. I’ve been here several times before, climbed up the stairs to the second floor gallery curious to see what it would look like this time. After all, in the last couple of years the space has been transformed into a whole different universe to host, for about one week, the ABSOLUT Art Bar. Last year, it was Brooklyn-Based artist Mickalene Thomas who resurrected a room from her childhood memories, and converted the gallery into a 70s style Brooklyn apartment, complete with wallpaper and furniture, to house the popular ABSOLUT Bar nights. Entering the elegant gallery this time, several round tables were set to host an exclusive dinner event, and the beautiful space’s vast balcony let just enough clamor in from the outside allowing guests to follow the game that was being screened outside, should they want to.

Serbian-born and L.A. based performance artist Ana Prvacki welcomed guests who started trickling in with a unique concoction that came complete with a compass. “It’s a drink to help you ground yourself, instead of lose yourself” she told me, explaining that clay was one of the special ingredients of the cloudy mixture. Strangely enough, the drink’s earthy flavor did have a calming effect, at least on me, and I slowly felt my focus and orientation realigning after the onslaught of visual input I had just experienced at the fair. The room started filling up with guests and art world personalities such as curators Chus Martinez, who was on the jury for the previous Absolut Art Award and Massimiliano Gioni, who’s a member of the 2015 jury for next award. Several of the artists who have collaborated on Art Bars on different occasions were in attendance, such as Jeremy Shaw, Adrian Wong, Michael Riedel, and Ryan Gander, who also created a deep lilac tinged bespoke drink that was served later in the evening, just before desert.

Global Art Manager at Absolut, Ulrika Lövdahl, made the announcement that this will be her final Absolut event – sadly, as she has been the perfect host to so many well-orchestrated nights from Basel to Miami, Hong Kong, Kassel and of course Stockholm. But before we got a chance to process the news, the night’s entertainment took center stage and busted out some serious easy listening tunes: Julian Brandt and Marina Schiptjenko, better known as Julian & Marina among the scandipop crowd, were all the rage with just vocals and a synth. Later on, when tables were shuffled to clear the dance floor, it was Shane Aspergen who provided the tunes. Walking back down from the gallery at the end of a great night of inspiring conversation, dance and cocktails I was happy to realize that on the way down, the stairs look just as I remembered them – velvety and familiar, hosting the memories of another singular night, knowing I’ll be back.