Opinion

Let Us Now Praise Famous Shills: Art Basel Preview Edition

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If you aren’t already quaking with anticipation for the latest installment of Art Basel Miami Beach, you obviously don’t matter. The best-kept secret of the global collector class is that nobody quite throws a party like MCH Group, the Swiss-domiciled “Global Live Marketing” conglomerate that owns the Art Basel franchise. All the hippest subsidiaries are there: MCH Messe Schweiz (Basel) AGMCH Swiss Exhibition (Basel) Ltd., and Art Basel U.S. Corp. Not a parvenu in sight!

Beyond being a geyser of proper nouns in boldface and providing the ultimate backdrop for non-ironic references to the “art world,” the Basel Miami bacchanal also hosts leading luminaries weighing in on the issues of the day. This fact was reassuringly affirmed by a press release that just landed in my inbox announcing the “daily line up of events offer[ing] dynamic dialogs between prominent members of the international art world.” Before my eyes glazed over in reverence, I caught the prominent billing for the fair’s “Premiere Artist Talk” (boldface theirs):

This year’s Conversations program in Miami Beach launches on Thursday, December 5th with the Premiere Artist Talk by the American multimedia artist Doug Aitken, discussing his recent nomadic project ‘Station to Station’ in conversation with Artforum Editor Michelle Kuo.

Everyone knows that Doug Aitken‘s Station to Station gambit, which virtually no major art critic even bothered to review, was just a roundabout Levi’s ad campaign. Not that today’s Artforum, Chelsea’s nutshell of infinite ad space, has ever met a shill it didn’t like, but the orgiastic indifference of this pairing, in this setting, is something to behold. If that isn’t art, I know not what is.

See you in Miami!

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