Art Basel 2019

Hidden Bar Returns to Art Basel, With a Bounty of Video Art, Ravioli

A hint as to Hidden Bar’s location.

PHOTOS: ANDREW RUSSETH/ARTNEWS

Good news from the Messeplatz: Hidden Bar, a fairly well hidden bar run by artists that debuted last year at Art Basel, is back for a second round.

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The location is the same (tucked behind the big clock that adorns the outside of the convention center—an area that previously went unused), but the vibe has shifted dramatically. Instead of a charmingly fly-by-night feel, with artworks dotted around the raw space, the organizers have covered the walls with blue fabric and the floors with blue carpeting. It’s sumptuously dark now, the ideal location for a semi-secret rendezvous or just a solo break from the crowd.

Installation view with Heather Anne Halpert’s Huida Hacia Adelante (2019) at left, and Hannah Weinberger’s On Seen (2016) at right.

“After the successful first edition it was our intention to keep up the spirit of the space as such and at the same time create a complete different atmosphere and setting,” Hidden Bar’s curators—Hannah Weinberger, Judith Kakon, and Alice Wilke—told me in an email. “This is why we chose to show this year—besides new a sculptural furniture piece—merely video works and films.”

Installation view/video still of Kawita Vatanajyankur’s The Ice Shaver (2013).

Indeed, the dimly lit atmosphere is ideal for video art, and the organizers have put together a robust program with pieces by more than 50 artists, among them Tommy Hartung, Klara Lidén, Hillary Loyd, Kaspar Müller, and Megan Plunkett. When I stopped by on Tuesday afternoon, Kawita Vatanajyankur’s The Ice Shaver (2013) was among the works screening, and it showed the artist using her face to shove a block of ice back and forth atop a slab of wood. It looked quite painful.

Beverages on offer.

Art aside, Hidden Bar sports a nicely varied menu, with coffees and teas, “long stuff” (two types of Negronis, an Aperol spritz, and other classics priced at CHF 14, or about $14.10), “fermented stuff” (cider, beer, etc.), plus select pastries, hummus, and handmade ravioli (CHF 25, or $25.10—not a small price, but it looked delicious). Food is being handled by Team Milan, and Edit Oderbolz is behind the comfy, dark-hued furniture.

Hidden Bar, like the fair itself, runs through Sunday.

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