Running concurrently alongside Art Basel is the Liste art fair, where collectors and dealers descend to discover emerging talents from young galleries. Though Liste used to set up shop in an old brewery, since last year it is now being hosted in the Messeplatz, the same complex where Art Basel takes place. Attendance was down overall last year at Liste, but it’s expected that being in such close proximity to Art Basel will this year bring those numbers back up.
There were good signs yesterday that that was the case when the fair opened at 11 a.m. for VIP attendees. A large crowd congregated outside as the white wine flowed, and soon Liste was in business.
With 82 galleries hailing from 37 countries, Liste is by no means a small fair. ARTnews put together a selection of the five best booths at the fair to help cut through the noise.
Gabriella Torres-Ferrer at Embajada
Gabriella Torres-Ferrer’s series “Mine Your Own Businesses,” at Puerto Rican gallery Embajada’s booth, is full of simple, damning work. As Puerto Rico has become a kind of haven for crypto enthusiasts due to its low taxes, its remote work capabilities, and its ideal beaches not far from the mainland, Torres-Ferrer has turned their critical eye to these tech guys.
Begun in 2018, “Mine Your Own Business” is a series of sculptures in which microcomputers are attached to everyday objects. A few crumpled-up cans of the energy drink Monster are embedded with a computer which lists the richest person in the world (who is currently Elon Musk, according to these sculptures). Another set of objects, a group of pineapples, are enlisted to meditate on cryptocurrency. One of the computers affixed to them shows a small graph charting the price of Bitcoin, while another one mines the currency itself, albeit very inefficiently. In this work in particular, Torres-Ferrer makes an explicit link between this commodity du jour and the centuries-old fruit economies of Latin America.
Andre Morgan at Harlesden High Street
Andre Morgan’s solo presentation at Harlesden High Street is a bit of a trip. His paintings verge wildly in style. Some are illustrative, with a kind of vaporwave, anime influence, while others have the look of a box TVs static. Still others almost look like pictures taken with a phone. Set up as they are, Morgan’s paintings mold and morph across mediums and resolutions in a clever way.
The content of the work also has a range that travels from the fantastical—Morgan inserts himself as a character in some of the more cartoon-y tableaus about street racing—to the deadly serious. Sabrina Beauty Salon (2022) and The struggle for Stonebridge (2022) both deal with the rapid gentrification of Harlesden, the neighborhood where Morgan grew up that was once predominantly Black. Sabrina’s salon, for example, was one of the last remaining Black businesses in the area, and The struggle for Stonebridge depicts the ugly rubble following the decimation of affordable housing to make way for luxury apartments. In “Juneteenth (It’s Dre Day and Everybody’s Celebrating),” as this mini-exhibit is called, audiences get a high-impact glimpse into the everyday exteriority and interiority of Morgan’s life.
Ni Hao at Gallery Vacancy
Ni Hao’s project “The Lathery Enfold,” at Gallery Vacancy’s booth, transports one to the steamy environment of the bathroom. Sculptures fitted with shirts are “discarded” across the booth floor, a machine attached to a humidifier quietly hums, and all around the walls are grids and shower contraptions holding pats of soap. In these works, especially ones from the series “Grid,” in which balls of soap are neatly organized into IKEA-made racks, Ni questions how the rituals of hygiene fit individuals into consumer-ready subjects. In the wake of the pandemic, questions of how systems shape the health and behavior of individuals are particularly sensitive and relevant, especially as different regions embark on different paths that make us question the line between pragmatism and paranoia.
Eva Fàbregas at Bombon
Eva Fàbregas’s sculptures are soft and innocent, even as they are shot through with innuendo. Her sculptures, a few of which are malleable and displayed in different positions, are all suggestive shapes in pastel colors that recall the supple folds of the body. “It’s like a playground for adults,” one of the gallerists at Bombon said. Yet the works recall a primary phase of early childhood when bodies, including one’s own, have not yet been defined. Instead, they are simply safe and natural.
Jasmin Werner at Damien & The Love Guru
Jasmin Werner’s lightbox sculptures immediately stop you in your tracks. A figure of an angel is illuminated in her works, hovering above Liste’s crowds and giving the impression of a stained glass window. Upon closer inspection, one sees that the works are are actually made of a mesh-like material upon which Werner’s photographs have been printed. Most of the photographs are of Werner’s cousin, a Filipina women who lives and works in Dubai to support her family. Werner’s cousin is placed in front of the wing motifs that are found in many places across Dubai. They act as a photo opportunity meant more for tourists than the many Filipino workers who make the city function, either as maids, cooks, nannies, or construction workers, or in other roles.