Creative Time

About the Project

What makes a city?


Basilea invited visitors to Art Basel to reflect on a city’s possibilities through a series of immersive projects connecting the City of Basel, its residents and the 95,000+ fairgoers attending Art Basel. Conceived by artists Lara Almarcegui, Isabel Lewis, and architecture studio Recetas Urbanas led by Santiago Cirugeda, Basilea was a project by Creative Time, curated by Elvira Dyangani Ose, and commissioned by Art Basel. This marked Creative Time’s first international public project and the first collaboration between the artists.


The project  aimed to create awareness of the active role we, as citizenry, have to intervene and alter any given urban environment, at an individual and collective level, encouraging discussions about the use and ownership of public space. The project included a collectively built structure, a large-scale installation, and a series of workshops, events and occasions.


Recetas Urbanas led by architect Santiago Cirugeda, worked with local and international volunteers to collectively design and build a multi-purpose civic structure, using locally sourced and second-hand materials. Participants learned from and taught each other through collective exchange and collaboration. During its construction and upon completion, the civic structure was open to all and activated by programs and performances.


Surrounding Recetas Urbanas’ civic structure, artist Lara Almarcegui orchestrated a large scale installation of gravel deposits from an active quarry, from June 11 – 14. Growing daily in increments, mirroring the average volume of gravel extracted from a Basel quarry, the work serves as an invitation to reflect on the consequences of our extractive relationship to the land. In conjunction, Almarcegui encourages you to visit Basel’s abandoned quarries using her publication which contains information about these ‘wastelands’ now awaiting a new function. The publication was free and available to the public on site.


Drawing upon her training in cultural criticism, dance and philosophy Isabel Lewis conceived a series of workshops and occasions engaging the public through new modes of addressal, inviting us to rethink notions of ‘self’ and ‘community.’ The work facilitated spaces for experimentation and play, where members of the public determined their own trajectories and levels of engagement. The public workshops which took place on the Messeplatz in the weeks leading up to and continuing through the week of the fair function as a meeting point for practices that, in Lewis’s view, could form situated and intimate relations with urban space.


For her contribution to Basilea Lewis worked closely with Berlin-based percussionist and composer Colin Hacklander who led the sonic activations creating opportunities to listen in an expanded sense-to sounds, music, and the vibrations of urban material: urban life and nonlife. Hacklander introduced an original score made for multiple Basel drum “cliques,” engaging the centuries-old tradition of Swiss Rudimental Drumming and its unique Basel-born iteration. At the closing of the daily activities, participants spread throughout the area, evincing the specific sonic identities of the Messeplatz within a stochastic composition of individual drum hits before reconvening to present traditional drumming from their repertoire.