When last summer Art Basel named Samuel Leuenberger curator of the city-wide sculpture and performance Parcours sector, it was something of a crowning for a hometown hero.
Leuenberger, the founder of the not-for-profit SALTS in Basel, has been an early and ardent champion of local, now international, artists including Raphael Hefti, Tobias Spichtig, Mia Marfurt and Yves Scherer. In advance of his first curated edition, Flash Art caught up with him.
How does your work with SALTS influence or inform you work on Parcours?
SALTS serves as a platform for experiments; the same should be the case for Parcours. Extending the show’s presentation into the heart of Basel, we depend on each artist’s close involvement — site visits and co-choosing the perfect location for their work. There is a very close curatorial involvement, very much like any traditional curated exhibition.
What is the ideal Parcours program?
The ideal is, and should be, that the artwork presented converges with its location. We want to create an experience that feels natural for its visitors, as well as to create a specific environment for the works to inhabit for a week. Hopefully you get to discover new artists or works, get surprised or irritated. Hopefully it touches you and makes you think.
What can we look forward to in Basel this year?
At SALTS we will do three shows, including a two-person with Owen Piper and Lili Reynaud-Dewar, a solo with Lena Henke, guest-curated by Anna Goetz, and a group show entitled “Works Off Paper” by Harry Burke. For Parcours we have nineteen exciting positions indoors and outdoors by emerging artists such as Trisha Baga as well as established positions such as Jim Dine. New this year is Parcours Bar, a location we created where each night of the Art Basel week one off-space is presenting their own program. This was something very important to me, coming from the off-space scene, that the emerging scene is also present in the whole spectacle of the week. Parcours is, after all, a guest in Basel’s old town.