BART Basel art exhibition takes over SF public transport

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While art collectors and fashionistas around the world descended on Miami last weekend for the annual Art Basel conference, another much less exclusive event took place here in San Francisco. “BART Basel,“a traveling public transport pop-up where anyone could step onto a podium and present a work of art, debuted for the first and probably the only time.

“I just told everyone to bring items that were important to them. It was not a very planned art exhibition. Everyone received the email the day before, ”explains the organizer and“ chief curator ” Danielle Baskin.

The event took place on Saturday afternoon traveling through six different BART stops (Embarcadero, Civic Center, 16th Street Mission, Glen Park, Colma, and San Francisco International Airport). Even though it was last minute and totally unauthorized, BART Basel featured a very official looking production value. A professionally printed repeating banner hung from the platform walls, and a red carpet led to a white foam podium with a clear plastic coating that temporarily housed each piece of art. A DJ randomly introduced himself, playing soft background music during the artist’s talks and upbeat dance music as the group packed their gear and boarded trains to move between stations .

Advertised via an explosion of emails, tweets, and an overly serious website that gently suggested “eclectic formal attire is preferred in galleries,” the event drew a crowd Baskin estimated at 120 attendees and 40 presenters. open mic style (view a public photo and video gallery here). Guests could RSVP as ‘gallery representatives’ to facilitate the whole process, and there were even official-looking BART Basel bracelets and lanyards.

Organizer and “chief curator” Danielle Baskin inspects a work of art at the unauthorized traveling art exhibition BART Basel, which took place on Saturday, December 4, 2021.

Courtesy of Vincent Woo

For those who follow Baskin online, the goofball nature and professional polish of the event should come as no surprise. You might recognize her for stunts like listing sidewalk rocks for sale on Craigslist, simulating a blue check house check program, creating an app that hooks up strangers over the phone. and, most recently, the draping of a Spirit Halloween banner over the Google sign at the offices of the Embarcadero company.

While their Google stunt was quickly shut down by security and the banner ended up in the trash, that stunt went off without a hitch, in part because they only spent 10-20 minutes on each. platform.

“We were just using BART. We got tickets, then we waited for the train. If there’s a problem, we’re stuck waiting for the next train. Because we were moving from platform to platform, everything was fine. If we had been seated at a station all day it would have been a little different and we would need permission, but it worked well for this traveling art exhibit.

A presenter at the unauthorized BART Basel traveling art exhibition, which took place on Saturday, December 4, 2021.

A presenter at the unauthorized BART Basel traveling art exhibition, which took place on Saturday, December 4, 2021.

Courtesy of Vincent Woo

As for the art itself, the objects ranged from parodies to extremely personal, with each presenter giving a short speech showcasing the artwork as photographers buzzed, adding to the appeal. Someone just brought water, another shared a notebook that they had had for many years. There were childhood items, like a box of tickets from every carnival ride the presenter did as a child (participants were invited to take them, and did). More than one person brought a handmade stuffed animal, and in reference to the celebratory reputation of the Art Basel event, someone showed a bag of coke (miniature bottles, not drugs) . A pair of stragglers who had just arrived on an SFO flight presented their handwriting and their girlfriend, who put her head inside the display case.

As you might expect in San Francisco around 2021, someone showed an NFT.

A presenter at the unauthorized BART Basel traveling art exhibition, which took place on Saturday, December 4, 2021.

A presenter at the unauthorized BART Basel traveling art exhibition, which took place on Saturday, December 4, 2021.

Courtesy of Vincent Woo

While no art is for sale, in a sense, BART Basel has served as an unofficial fundraiser. “One hundred and twenty people came and went to SFO, that’s a lot of income for BART. Over a thousand dollars, ”says Baskin.


She doesn’t plan on replicating the farce anytime soon and expects her upcoming projects to be more digitally-based than event-driven, but experience has proven that maybe BART could one day host its own. traveling art gala.

“There might be a weekend where art is posted all over the bay area, and you can walk freely to the platforms and maybe get a little card, and spend the day on BART and up and down, ”she said. “… A friend described his experience of attending this event as a trailer for a larger art exhibition.”

A pair of foreigners who stumbled upon BART Basel while roaming after arriving from San Francisco International Airport.

A pair of foreigners who stumbled upon BART Basel while roaming after arriving from San Francisco International Airport.

Courtesy of Vincent Woo





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