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An international arts extravaganza descends on Charleston this week, while indie bookmakers get the spotlight in Brooklyn and Bostonians get a last chance to view one of art’s most eye-popping names up close.
‘Basilea’ in Basel
May 23-June 17
The phenomenon that is Art Basel is still a couple of weeks away, but the festivities are kicking off early at Basel’s Messeplatz. There, the ever-inventive Creative Time is presenting Basilea, a collaborative public project between site-specific artist Lara Almarcegui, critic and installation artist Isabel Lewis, and Santiago Cirugeda’s architecture studio Recetas Urbanas. Cirugeda’s team will work with local and international volunteers to design and build a multi-purpose civic structure; Almarcegui will coordinate a large-scale installation of grave ldeposits from an active quarry to surround the civic structure; and Lewis has conceived a series of public workshops to occur on the Messeplataz as the structure is built. Before Art Basel’s over 90,000 annual visitors descend on the city, the project’s mission seems especially apt–to encourage reflection on how a city’s inhabitants alter and re-appropriate its environment, on both individual and collective levels. Artbasel.com.
Brooklyn Art Book Fair
May 25 and 26
Book fairs can often feel like showcases for the highest bidders – but not the second annual Brooklyn Art Book Fair. At this young fair celebrating underrepresented and emerging artists and writers, the tables and space are free to all exhibitors, guaranteeing a refreshing sense of democracy and giving much-needed attention to over 50 independent, artist-run presses and organizations. The fair’s organizer, Endless Editions—a community-based curatorial and publishing project in New York City–has brought in a diverse range of exhibitors, ranging from better-known presses like Printed Matter and Small Editions to rising imprints like Homie House Press and Blk Girls Zine World, plus a series of readings and performances over the fest’s two days. McCarren Park Pool, 776 Lorimer St.; bkabf.info.
Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston
May 25-June 10
For 17 days and nights, Charleston will transform into an international arts mecca when the 42nd annual Spoleto Festival USA comes to town. The lineup at Spoleto is always a tantalizingly diverse and talent-packed one, but this year’s is especially exciting even by those standards, starting with opening night: a tribute to Jerome Robbins—the iconic choreographer, who launched his Ballets USA troupe for the original Spoleto festival in Italy in 1958—with performances by Miami City Ballet and principal dancers from New York City Ballet.
Dance is a high point of this year’s festival, with appearances by Kyle Abraham’s Abraham.In.Motion, extraordinary tap company Dorrance Dance, and the stellar modern/ballet duo of Jodi Melnick and Sara Mearns. But there’s plenty more to look forward to, including the Kneehigh and Bristol Old Vic production of The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, based on the love story of Marc and Bella Chagall; the US premiere of Liza Lim’s opera Tree of Codes; countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo on the chamber music series; and two appearances by jazz dynamo Jon Batiste. Spoletousa.org.
“M.C. Escher: Infinite Dimensions” in Boston
Through May 28
In his lifetime, artist M.C. Escher didn’t find widespread acceptance in the mainstream art world—but he did find avid fans in mathematicians, psychologists, even crystallographers, thanks to his intricate works simultaneously built on mathematical principles and defying logic. Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts gives Escher the in-depth look he deserves in its exhibition of fifty works from both public and private collections, spanning the artist’s tessellations (repeated shapes fit together with no gaps), sphere and water reflections, transformations and perspective and perception conundrums. Pay special attention to the labels for the works on display: they’re written by a host of notable creative professionals—from music, design, theater, religion, mathematics and beyond–reflecting on what speaks to them most about Escher’s work. 465 Huntington Ave.; mfa.org.