What to Expect at photo basel 2018 - Sven Eisenhut in an Interview

Art Fairs, Interviews

June 12, 2018

Concurrent to the Art Basel Week, photo basel returns to the city this June for its fourth edition. As Switzerland’s first and only international art fair dedicated to the medium of photography, it welcomes galleries from all around the world in a unique, authentic setting. An active platform for collectors, visitors and buyers, the fair aims to encourage dialogue between all actors of the photographic community.

Returning to Volkhaus Basel, photo basel 2018 will bring together 35 exhibitors from 12 countries, including France, Italy, Belgium and Colombia. Curated by Daniel Blochwitz, an expert in photography, the fair has prepared a range of discoveries and rediscoveries.

We had a chat with the Fair's Director Sven Eisenhut to find out what's cooking at this year's edition. In an exclusive Widewalls interview, he talks about the novelties of this year's edition, the selection process, the new section dedicated to vintage prints, the local art scene, and much more.

Antanas Sutkus - J. P. Satre and Simone de Beauvoire in Lithuania, 1965
Gallery STP, Antanas Sutkus - J. P. Satre and Simone de Beauvoire in Lithuania, 1965

Photo Basel 2018

Widewalls: Founded in 2015, Photo Basel now returns for its fourth edition. What has changed since the inception of the fair?

Sven Eisenhut: Lots of various changes and adaptions have been made. Firstly, we now occupy the Volkshaus (for the third consecutive time). We now also work with Mr. Daniel Blochwitz as our Artistic Director.

For this year's fourth edition of the fair, we have two special exhibitions, live performances and also a small conversations panel.

Widewalls: This year’s edition will bring together 35 galleries coming from 12 countries. Are there some highlights you would like to mention?

SE: In general, I think it is fantastic for a boutique art fair to welcome so many international galleries and exhibitors. We show 114 artists from 22 nations and over 450 artworks - so even here, the numbers are increasing, so it is too hard to just name a few.

Widewalls: In addition to the main exhibition program, the fair introduced the section Master Cabinet: Pivotal Moments. How did this section come to be? Could you tell us more about the program?

SE: We would like the classic booths/stands to be dedicated mainly to contemporary photography. We know however that many of our exhibitors have tremendous treasures in their galleries and saves - so we want to give them the unique chance to show them to a broader audience. And this is what we aim for, a boutique museum style museum exhibition where all the vintage prints are for sale.

Alinka Echeverria - Becoming South Sudan, Sunday, 2011
Alinka Echeverria - Becoming South Sudan, Sunday, 2011

The Position and Impact of the Fair

Widewalls: Being Switzerland’s first and only fair dedicated to photography, how do you think Photo Basel has contributed to the development of the local art scene?

SE: Every artist, every small off space contributes to the cities rich offering of culture. Basel is Switzerland's cultural capital and we are extremely proud to be part of it.

Widewalls: How would you describe the position of Photo Basel within the contemporary art market? Who are the visitors of the fair? 

SE: We cater to a broad audience - I would say that at the beginning of the fair, within the first 2-3 days, we mainly get visited by institutions and collectors, whereas towards the weekend, we realize how many local visitors are flocking the aisles.

Eijiohashi Shimabara - City Nagasaki, 2016
Galerie CO119, Eijiohashi Shimabara - City Nagasaki, 2016

Collectors at Photo Basel

Widewalls: What would be your advice to a collector coming to Photo Basel?

SE: It's always best to connect with other collectors and also gallerists, they can and will be happy to advise you on every little step. Buying art is very personal and involves not just a certain budget but also you have to open up and let your emotions (gut feelings) make a decision.

My personal advice is to always listen to your heart first, and if your ears are also in line, buy it before you regret it.

Widewalls: How do you see the concept of the fair evolve in the future?

SE: We would like to increase our size a little bit and be able to show more collections and prizes, Basel during that particular week in June is the epicenter of the global art world - we aim to be a sustainable, long-term part of it.

Featured image: Sven Eisenhut © Léa Girardin for photo basel.