Art Basel: In conversation with Kendell Geers

The politics of artmaking

Kendell Geers will engage in a dialogue with Kimberly Bradley, Conversations Curator of Art Basel, and artist Mandy El-Sayegh, delving into the intricate dynamics of the politics inherent in artmaking. Together, they will explore how artists whose work intersects with sociopolitical themes navigate current conflicts and the ensuing ramifications. They’ll delve into the tangible impact that ‘political’ art can, should, or might have today, considering the challenges of precarious public funding, self-censorship, nationalism, and the emergence of cancel culture. The conversation will revolve around the strategies artists employ to develop their artistic visions and effect positive change, both within their roles as creators and as citizens. Ultimately, it will be a discussion on the urgency with which artists respond to the ever-shifting landscapes and systems that surround them.


Practical information
Conversations: The politics of artmaking | Kendell Geers
Date: Friday, June 14, 2024
Time: 1 pm – 2 pm
Location: Messepl. 10, Basel, Switzerland, Auditorium, Hall 1 Ground Floor

ABOUT Kendell Geers

Born into a working class Afrikaans family during the height of Apartheid, Kendell Geers quickly found himself fighting a Crime Against Humanity on the front lines of activism and protest. Running away from the military regime and a six year prison sentence, he escaped to London in 1988 as a political refugee. In 1989 he moved on to New York where he found employ as Richard Prince’s full time assistant. Following the release of Nelson Mandela, Geers returned to South Africa in 1990 to help build the new democracy.

From his strong experiences as a revolutionary, he developed a psycho-social-political practice that held ethics and aesthetics to be opposite sides of the very same coin, spinning upon the tables of history. In his hands, the discourse of art history is interrogated, languages of power and ideological codes subverted, expectations smashed and belief systems transformed into aesthetic codes. The raw energy of a Punk attitude is blended with the visceral visionary philosophy of poets like Rimbaud, Blake and Burroughs in an uncanny cocktail of unexpected contrasts.

A European by descent, an African by birth, Kendell Geers work embodies the contradictions of his identity, being both Animist and Mystic, Shaman and Alchemist, Punk and Poet. The warp of popular culture is woven into the weft of poetry, painting, literature and ritual. He uses experience to colour perception, spiritualising matter and materialising spirit, mocking tradition like an iconoclast whilst celebrating history like a Medieval Monk.

Believing that art is as political as it is spiritual, Kendell Geers’ varied practice cannot be simplified, cannot be reduced to cliché or fashion. Working as an artist, musician, designer and writer, his strategies are without compromise because he believes that “Art changes the world – one perception at a time.”

Kendell Geers was born in May 1968, Johannesburg, South Africa
He lives and works in Brussels, Belgium