Art for a Better World

To mark Art Basel, UBS presents a new exhibition and projects that highlight the power of creativity to inspire positive change

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How can art inspire us to create a better world? To mark Art Basel in Basel (September 24-26, 2021), we present artists who use their voices to address the most pressing issues of our time – demonstrating the power of art to consider a more sustainable future. The program follows UBS’s commitment to achieving net zero emissions in its own operations by 2025, and its leading position on sustainable investing.

Reimagining: A Better World

At UBS, we believe that artists are the spokespeople of our time – and have a vital role to play in provoking conversations and challenging the status quo. The UBS Art Collection presents Reimagining: A Better World, an exhibition of works from the Collection, including significant recent acquisitions, which explore today’s most critical issues. The exhibition is available to the public online in the virtually recreated UBS Art Gallery from 16 September-January 4, 2022 and will also be on display in the UBS Lounge at Art Basel's Collectors Lounge.

Works by artists Pamela Rosenkranz, Olafur Eliasson, Julian Charrière, Richard Mosse and Catherine Opie highlight the consequences of humanity’s exploitation of natural resources, while the multi-layered film The Hikers (2019), by Rashid Johnson, offers an almost tactile exploration of nature, which conveys the anxieties that result from racial discrimination. Compositions by Jeppe Hein and Tomás Saraceno invite moments of reflection and contemplative thought about the fragility of the physical world in which we live.

Art towards a more sustainable future

Our wider Art Basel program highlights the power of art to raise awareness of sustainability and inspire charge. In the UBS Art Studio, in the public area of Art Basel in Hall 1.0, two artistic projects focus on the role art can play in making the world a better place. The first, Little Sun, a nonprofit organization founded by artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen, works to deliver affordable clean energy in Africa and inspire people to take climate action globally. Little Sun will feature a project by artist collaborative Ghost of a Dream to raise funds and provide vulnerable communities living without access to electricity with clean power and light. Discussing the initiative, Olafur Eliasson says: “Our actions have consequences for the world. Little Sun is a wedge that opens up the urgent discussion about bringing renewable energy to all from the perspective of art to raise awareness about the unequal distribution of energy today.” To-date, the organization has distributed over 1.2 million personal solar devices worldwide to communities without electricity – generating 58 million additional study hours for children after dark, saving households $150 million in expenses, and reducing 800,000 tons of CO₂ emissions.

Alongside Little Sun, BOTTLETOP will present flags designed by artist Morag Myerscourgh to raise awareness of the critical importance of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy, and its 2050 Net Zero target. The artwork is a preview from an upcoming campaign to use art to inspire action and encourage people to make the switch away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy.

Elsewhere, Parcours, Art Basel’s site-specific sector, returns to Basel (September 20-26) presenting works by artists in locations across the city. Mudmen, a large-scale installation by Lithuanian artist Augustas Serapinas, will be on display at UBS Aeschenvorstadt branch. More than fifty stacks in different sizes form a group of sculptures resembling snowmen. Initially planned as an installation made of snow for the 2020 Riga Biennial (RIBOCA), an unusually warm winter without snowfall in Latvia meant that they could only be constructed of hay, soil and mud. Serapinas’ Mudmen remind viewers to consider the effects of warmer global temperatures as a result of climate change and its impacts.

At the Fondation Beyeler, on September 21, Olafur Eliasson will discuss his diverse practice in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director, Serpentine Galleries, London. Renowned for works that challenge the way we perceive and co-create our environments, Eliasson’s art is driven by his interests in perception, movement, embodied experience, and feelings of self and community. The event continues our Artist Talks program, presented in partnership with the Fondation Beyeler, which invites internationally renowned contemporary artists to speak about their work.

New insights into collecting

Alongside these activities, UBS presents new insights into the behaviors of collectors in The Art Basel and UBS Mid-Year Review 2021 (released September 9, 2021). Presented in partnership with Art Basel, the new survey explores collecting across five markets, as well as examining the structures and business models that have results from shifts in the market in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

September 2021