Interview with Joanna Kamm, Head of ListArt in Basel

Everyone is currently expressing solidarity with Ukraine. How far does Art Fair Basel go beyond symbolic work?

The important thing is that galleries in Eastern Europe called me a few days after the start of the war. From the start we discussed how we can support Ukraine. This resulted in several projects: the call for donations, the curated film program in the Ukrainian language, or presentations on the catwalk that were expanded to include Ukrainian artists. And, of course, the invitation to the Kyiv galleries The Naked Room and Voloshyn.

Is this commitment easier to implement for a non-commercial trade fair? Since this year, the list has been supported by a foundation.

We have a small structure, so we were able to respond quickly to the war. Overall, the idea of ​​the List as a supportive nonprofit organization, and perhaps the help, is in our genes. The main thing is to give young artists and gallery owners from all over the world a platform. Therefore, after the outbreak of the war, it was only natural to do the same for the Ukrainian art scene.


Community Circle: Trade Fair architecture from the Basel Art Gallery list
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Photo: Liste Art Fair Basel / Gina Folly

Endowment funds were used to support exhibitions that included Ukrainian positions in their programmes, such as LC Queisser from Tiflis or Sandwich from Bucharest.

Our organization covers production costs if the fair needs them. With respect to Ukraine, we have also provided special and retrospective support. Another fund is “Friends of the List”, which provided additional funds for Ukrainian projects. This scholarship is usually for high-end, premium, and risky presentations, so it also benefits other exhibits.

What is the price range for young and new discoveries this time?

This ranges from a few hundred to twenty or thirty thousand francs.

What is the impact of your round interior design?

When we learned in 2021 that we would have to release a pandemic version, it was clear we couldn’t stay in our cramped building in Warteck. The exhibition hall we are in now is architecturally the opposite, and I thought: What is the most important thing we would like to take with us to a new place? It’s the feeling of community, of spending time together, getting to know each other, creating lifelong connections, and maybe even sharing artists. It was reported to our architectural office. This is how the circle appeared as a connected shape.

Was your point of view used as a previous gallery owner?

I used to share the list myself and I understand the needs of gallery owners very well. They call it “democracy” when – as here in our circle – all showrooms have roughly the same conditions. This goes down very well. But you can’t compare this hall setting to our former site in a former brewery with so many different rooms. It has not yet been decided where we will be in the long term. We have been here at the exhibition center for the past two years due to the pandemic.

What is the difference after the pandemic?

You could tell that the younger generation of artists is thinking about the uncertainty that the pandemic has created for them. For now, it’s about examining where you define yourself: somewhere between reality and fantasy. You can see something fragile on several viewing platforms, which at the same time shows new perspectives.

Art Gallery ListMessi Basel until June 19 accept 20 francs

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