The new Paris+ fair by Art Basel represents a major change to the world of art fairs, and particularly the Parisian artistic landscape, signifying a qualitative leap compared to the city’s former art fair FIAC. However, does this leap also extend to environmental considerations?

From the viewpoint of including artists linked to environmental themes, it is clear that Paris+ still remains behind the London-based art fair Frieze, which took place a week earlier and confirmed its progress in this area, building on a momentum already created in 2021 by the active presence of the Gallery Climate Coalition

Alongside the now iconic Julian Charriere on display at Sean Kelly Gallery and the monumental environmentally-themed installation by Laure Prouvost at Lisson Gallery, the new “Indra’s Net” section curated by Sandhini Poddar, in particular, has drastically increased Frieze’s environmental content. This section showcased 18 relatively emerging galleries, including carte blanches given to Dorothy Cross (Galerie Kerlin, Ireland) and Oscar Santillan (Galerie Copperfield, London). The pioneering socially-conscious gallery Mother’s Tankstation is no longer isolated! 

In addition, Frieze highlighted the environmental NGO Platform Earth at the entrance of the fair. The latter collaborated with the artist Es Devlin on a “carbon-negative” work based on an ink made from air pollution. Of course, the UK also has a long history of artists who specialized in environmental themes: Marcus Coates, for instance, revealed the 365 news items of his “Nature calendar” at the stand of Kate MacGarry. Interested visitors could make good deals, as these already historical artists are still relatively affordable. 

Over at Paris+ by Art Basel, the Galerie Neugerriemschneider unfortunately chose not to highlight its new artist, Tomàs Saraceno, a major artistic figure of the post-carbon era. Certainly the presence of Superflex at Kukje Gallery, of Bianca Bondi at Mor Charpentier – two galleries also present at Frieze -, of Piero Gilardi at Michel Rein gallery or of the legendary Lois Weinberger at Salle Principale, gave an important green touch, but it was far from the green new wave across the Channel. If not at its core, Paris+ offered however some beautiful proposals on its periphery, in the Jardin des Tuileries next to the Louvre, where visitors could observe outdoor installations by Otobong Nkanga (Galerie In Situ-Fabienne Leclerc) and Ugo Schiavi (Double V Galerie), or in the VIP programme, where two exhibitions worth mentioning were present: “Les Militantes” at Maison Guerlain and “Le Rêve du Scaphandre” by CulturFoundry.

But aside from the artists presented, at what point are we in reducing the environmental impact of the fair itself? If Frieze and Paris+ have the same stated objectives, as members of the Gallery Climate Coalition (GCC), and can tick the boxes of 100% LED lighting and the reuse of display wall (assured in any case by the rental companies), exhibitors would’ve noticed more changes in London, where there were widespread symbolic actions, such as a “zero plastic bottles” plan implemented last October. These measures are still small compared to the actions of Art Paris, for example, which in 2021 launched a holistic eco-design approach, and don’t sufficiently address the considerable impact of transporting artworks and visitors, a problem that can only be solved with a concerted sectoral approach. These more collaborative environmental approaches will undoubtedly develop further in 2023, thanks as well to new visionaries at the head of Parisian institutions, such as Guillaume Désanges at the Palais de Tokyo or Emmanuel Tibloux at the École des arts décoratifs. France has not yet said its last word!


Alice Audouin

Translated by Sustainable Art Market

Impact Art News, October-November 2022 #40

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Article also published in the Sustainable Art Market section of the new Art Market Day newsletter in Le Quotidien de l’Art (subscribe to the newsletter). The Sustainable Art Market section, entrusted to Alice Audouin by Art Market Day, provides monthly news and expertise on the art market with regard to environmental issues and sustainable development.

Cover : Ugo Schiavi, Lift and Collapse, 2022, resin, steel, weed and sprinkler system, Double V ©Agathe Hakoun for CDA / Ugo Schiavi