ARCHIVE // 2016 – 2005

VOLTAshow01 — founded by Kavi Gupta (Kavi Gupta, Chicago), Friedrich Loock (LOOCK, Berlin), Ulrich Voges (VOGES GALLERY) and Amanda Coulson — premiered in 2005, parallel to Art Basel and attracted over 10,000 visitors. Conceived as a tightly-edited event that would focus solely on new, cutting-edge production, interchange and intersection were encouraged between the wide range of international exhibitors in order to create a relaxed atmosphere that was more boutique than shopping mall.

In 2006 VOLTAshow02 was presented an expanded format in a bigger location in the Basel harbor. While allowing for almost double the number of exhibiting international galleries, a project section dedicated to emerging artist solo presentations, specialized publications and a riverside café, the fair still maintained its charming, intimate atmosphere. On opening day The Art Newspaper declared "VOLTA Gets Even Better!"

VOLTAshow03 and VOLTA4 consolidated the fair's success in the industrial Ultra Brag location and introduced a new model so as to maintain the focus on content. Continuing the original idea of presenting an event that is more exhibition than trade fair, a Curatorial Board was conceived to advise in the selection process. Breaking away from the traditional fair format of having a committee of galleries judge their peers, VOLTA asked internationally-known art critics and curators to bring their expertise to the table.

In 2009 VOLTA5 moved from its former home in the industrial harbor area to the very heart of the city and took up residence in Basel's historic Markthalle, opposite the main railway station. With a usable surface of 2,600 sq. meters, the Martkhalle set a new standard for VOLTA5, taking the organization up to a new level of professionalism and allowing for a wider range of galleries from areas across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.

VOLTA6 presented more than 200 emerging artists from all over the world at the newly renovated Dreispitzhalle, the centerpiece of Basel's latest hot spot, the Dreispitz Areal, a former warehouse district and now an artistically-vibrant neighborhood best known for the Schaulager.

In 2011, VOLTA7 returned to the Dreispitzhalle, and, together with the Curatorial Committee, proposed a much stronger emphasis on single artist presentations or on booth concepts that bring the work of two artists into dialogue with one another, thus giving emphasis to artists by allowing for a greater understanding of different individual practices.

VOLTA8, Basel's platform for cutting-edge art and emerging international talent, mounts its eighth year this June with the wind at its back. Buzz for the fifth iteration of VOLTA NY, the stateside invitational solo-artist fair, coupled with positive reactions from the previous VOLTA7, culminates in a creatively curated showcase of mainly solo and two-or-three artist dialogues spanning 81 exhibitors, with 68 returning from previous years.

In 2013, VOLTA9 lights up the industrial Dreispitz Areal in its ninth edition. 74 exhibitors staged contemporary projects of compelling distinction, representing Europe and the Americas, plus the Middle East, South Africa, and East Asia, with 58 galleries returning from previous VOLTA incarnations.

VOLTA10 celebrates its decade edition as Basel's renowned art fair for new and emerging art in 2014. VOLTA returns to Markthalle, the historic domed landmark situated in the heart of Basel and former venue of VOLTA5 in 2009. Beneath Markthalle's recently renovated rotunta, 68 exhibitors from six continents converge to mount a compelling discourse of contemporary projects, including over 50 galleries from previous Basel editions and featuring some of VOLTA's distinguished 'alumni' galleries.

VOLTA's eleventh edition in Basel concluded with a spontaneous and spirited standing ovation that resounded across Markthalle as the fair closed on Saturday evening. The week was a pitch-perfect harmony of major sales, steady flow of visitors, and important and timely creative positions. From the local and international press to collectors from around the globe and gallerists alike: VOLTA11 has secured its status as Basel's premiere alternative fair for significant artistic discoveries. 

Twelve years is an accomplishment for a contemporary art fair, particularly when one can bob and weave around market peculiarities while still retaining its authenticity and identity as a platform for critical discourse and international artistic discovery. Coupled with the array of ambitious booth projects and pedigree of visitors to the fair — including notable repeat patrons from opening day — VOLTA12 advanced its position as Basel's fair for new international positions.