Finding Basel

Nico tells us about his short trip to Swiss city Basel.
15 Sep ’10 by Nico Travel

During summertime you really need a good reason to leave berlin. The budget of the average berlin kid is small and the opportunities to spend it are countless. You don’t wanna end up spending money on a trip to a city which can’t compete with the big B and then hear the stories of all your friends about what was going down.

So its basically just: beach . Or in my case: basel.

170 000 inhabitants, located between the borders of germany, france and switzerland, center of the chemical industry, why would you care about basel?

For me it was the only chance to experience the work of an artist who played a big role in my personal development, who dragged me inside a new world and revealed new interests and passions inside of me. If it wasn’t for Jean Michel Basquiat I wouldn’t be in Berlin right now, I would be a different person. Logically I had to see the huge retro perspective in Foundation Bayerle. Basquiat lived fast, died young and left behind a huge amount of work which is, thanks to the popcultural phenomenon we call hype, nearly completely in private collections. So your chances to feel the monstrous energy of his huge paintings are limited. I had to take mine.

The exhibition was everything I wanted it to be. I sat down, surrounded by all the large canvases, and just consumed the energy, the rebellion, the freedom, the desperation. It was crazy.

At first basel seemed to be kind of the opposite to basquiats energetic, chaotic paintings and in a way the opposite to berlin,too. The city moves slow and thoughtful. You dont crash into hysteric hipsters, no tourists carrying their digicams like rifles and trying to catch the next never ending party, no annoyed-by-life berliners who cant stop yelling. Just relaxed living. I walked threw the oldest part of the town and suddenly it felt like walking threw an old village in the south. A cat was lying on a bench, hiding from the sun. Kids played on the street and a beautiful well sprinkled calmly. I totally lost myself in that atmosphere. Then I learned that it was the quarter where all the “Kunstis” are living, that is equal to “yuppie” in Berlin. :)

The Rhein is just beautiful. Imagine you could jump into the spree without being killed by a mutated forelle or die by intoxication. That is what the Baslers do, they jump in, all their stuff in waterproofed swimbags and let themselves being carried away by the flow of the rhein. Its so nice. Unfortunately I didnt do it because the rhein was very angry due to the heavy rain the week before.

In the nighttime I finally found berlin. My lovely host Alejandra took me to the opening-party of a bar. It was located at the NT Areal, its crazy how similar it is to the RAW Tempel in Friedrichshain. A huge territory where culture actually happens, where artists use the walls as an outside gallery, where skaters come together, where people dance, drink, eat, live and which is sadly just for temporarily use. A problem we know very well in berlin. Hanging around with the basel youth I recognized that the spirit of their generation felt very similar to mine. A spirit the basel kids call “hippie-kacke”. I like that.

In those two days Basel really fascinated me. So small but still so multifaceted, high-contrasted and such an important place for art in the world. Its worth a visit.

Five comments

  1. very nice pictures. i experienced basel as such a laid back place too. people don´t worry about crime or something. they don´t even lock their race-bikes (if it wasn´t for a bad karma – the colagno sport would have been mine). the minus thing about basel are teh prices. london, new york? paa! i paid 6,50 euro for a dürüm!

  2. yea, i forgot to mention that. I had a Piadina for 10,50 Franken. Took me three bits to finish it. You could take a bath in classy brugeramt-pommes for that money :D

  3. Just for the record, it is called Fondation Beyeler, not Bayeler.
    And thank you for the lovely review of Basel.
    Concerning the prices: it might seem expensive, but the wages are a way higher here, in contrast to London or NYC…

  4. these photos are amazing…especially the one of the grandmas going up the stairs and the girl on the step…is the pigeon flying by?? Way to capture the moment!

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