Performance: do you buy it?

The public is warming to the medium, but collectors remain cool.

While some visitors spent the first public day of Art Basel admiring multi-million-dollar paintings, others strayed from the main fair to watch a nude woman examine her body with a hand mirror and a war veteran stand silently in a corner. These performance works, by the artists Joan Jonas and Santiago Sierra respectively, are part of “14 Rooms”, a show of live installations at Messe Basel (until 22 June). The project is part of a wider effort to raise the public’s awareness of performance art.

“Performance is reaching a broader public now,” says Hans Ulrich Obrist, the co-director of the Serpentine Galleries in London, who co-organised “14 Rooms” with Klaus Biesenbach, the director of MoMA PS1 in Queens, New York. “The internet age has made the need for live experiences more urgent.”

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