A friend recently asked me for a guide to surviving Art Basel. After pointing him in the direction of Liz’s masterful event listing, I gave him two words of advice: “you won’t.”
Well maybe that’s not advice, more of a truth. Art Basel was not created with your survival in mind. It is designed to strangle you and leave your body in an irrigation ditch, preferably somewhere near the Everglades. It is the art world’s version of China Buffet – too much, all at once, in every conceivable way until a level of discomfort is achieved and you feel feverish from too much MSG. It’s a whirlpool of commerce crammed into a week and none of it was designed with individual enjoyment in mind.
Look, if you can’t handle an entire day at a major museum (and don’t lie, very few people can) there is little chance you can survive Basel or the innumerable other things going on around it. So maybe you want to follow these tips, formatted in the simplest format possible cribbed mercilessly from Highlights for Children:
Goofus walks into Art Basel itself with no idea what he wants to see or do and wanders until he has a mild nervous breakdown.
Gallant understands it’s impossible to see everything and takes in things in brief, digestible stints.
Gallant: “I think I’ll stop by some local galleries and catch up on the Miami art scene.”
Goofus: “Is that in South Beach? Oh, then I guess I’m not going.” (p.s. I still hate you)
Gallant bikes around different events in the Design District and Wynwood.
Goofus gets off at the wrong exit and gets lost in Little Haiti at 3AM.
Gallant: “I’m going to actually take in some decent tips from other people about how to look at art and experience Basel fully.”
Goofus: “I’m going eat free cheese. Then I’m going to drink until I throw it up.”
Goofus: “I’m not capable of saying anything intellectual about this piece but I will admit it has merit.”
Gallant: “My kid could do that.”
Doing at least some of the above (and actually reading up on what the hell you’re doing) will guarantee a rewarding Basel experience for all. Enjoy yourselves, as I’m sure as hell not going – that crap is too exhausting for me. Being a few thousand miles away this year isn’t helping either.