Art Basel’s growing universe will continue to expand next year, thanks to a new, nearly-impossible-to-define three-day event—Art Basel Inside, which is due to launch next year in Abu Dhabi. Marc-Olivier Wahler, the director of the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire in Geneva, will curate the event, which runs from February 14–16.
“[It’s] not in an art fair, not in a museum, and also not really a summit,” he told ARTnews in a phone conversation. “It all started with this idea for offering to art lovers a kind of experience that doesn’t exist elsewhere.”
Over the course of the event (whose run overlaps with that of the 2020 edition of the Frieze Los Angeles art fair), site-specific installations and commissions will create what Wahler describes as a “highly immersive” experience. Participating artists have not yet been announced. Pressed for details, Wahler said that Art Basel Inside will simulate the “feeling involved in the elements,” adding, “This is in the desert, but you can walk underwater and listen to poetry.”
Wahler is the cofounder of the Centre d’Art of Neuchâtel in Switzerland, and the founder and director of two Paris-based arts institutions, the Paris Art Lab (PAL) and the Chalet Society, that “create specific ecosystems,” the curator said. “That’s what I try to do by creating a new institution or running an institution.”
Marc Spiegler, the global director of Art Basel, said of the event in a statement, “In today’s world it is vital that those in the art world not only speak to each other about the art world, but rather discuss with a wider range of thinkers a broader range of topics.”
The event is co-hosted by Abu Dhabi’s department of culture and tourism, and a spokesperson from Art Basel told ARTnews that the decision to host the event there comes from “Abu Dhabi’s commitment to this initiative and their overall contribution to innovation and the arts.” The spokesperson added, “With projects such as Louvre Abu Dhabi, Warehouse421, Manarat Al Saadiyat, the Cultural Foundation and the NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, and the upcoming Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi projects, in recent years Abu Dhabi has developed into a global destination for culture.”