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Floating Pages: one week on the Rhine

Updated: Jan 13, 2022

Sun, water, and art. For the whole week, September 20th to the 26th, Archivorum was uniting these three elements, presenting two artists’ books on a boat sailing along the Rhine river. Let’s take a look back on Floating Pages and remember the great moments we had in Basel.

The first Archivorum live event was set to present the first two artists’ books of the ArchivorumxM series, published in collaboration with Kodoji Press.

ArchivorumxM is an editorial project born in continuation of Archivorum’s commitment to the protection and promotion of artists and art-related publishing. Each of these publications was originally conceived by the particular artists involved in Magic Megève (hence Archivorum×M). Magic Megève is a contemporary art project born in the village of Megève, France, where internationally renowned artists are contributing to the renovation of a chalet by creating structural elements such as stairs, floors, ceiling, furniture, lighting, etc. The chalet is conceived as a space, open to everybody, dedicated to art: exhibitions, conferences, readings and many other public events will all take place there. In the same spirit of non-exclusivity and the praising of art as everyday experience, ArchivorumxM books have been created by the artists in their own, unique way, sui generis, without any form of restriction.

The event took form quickly and naturally. The idea of Floating Pages was born in discussion and collaboration between Archivorum, Kodoji press, and the two artists presented during the event: Darren Bader and Luís Lázaro Matos. Darren presented Scott Mendes’s Pleonasm, the sequel to Scott Mendes’s Venice, a series started two years ago at Venice Biennale. The book is a journey in space and time, through parallel universes, the belly of a whale and Manhattan’s rooftops.

Luís Lázaro Matos’ book The Pond Skater was different; the artist’s portfolio was seen from the perspective of a pond skater gazing into the depths of the artist’s ideas.

The Pond Skater, and inflatable sculpture by Luís Lázaro Matos on the roof of our boat

The whole team was aligned in creating something inclusive and as fun as the books that we were presenting. Starting from this wish, we realized an extraordinary setting for our event: a boat sailing on the Rhine. It then took just the linguistic mastery of Darren Bader to come up with the title that encapsulated the essence of the event: Floating Pages. To make our journeys even more captivating and bizarre, Luís Lázaro Matos mounted a giant inflatable pond skater on the roof of our boat.

We began the day getting the first passengers at Rhywyera, a traditional place for a promenade and summer lunches in Basel. We then moved along Kleinbasel, the Rhine's lower side, finally crossing the river near St. Alban. The weather was beautiful, and many came, also to enjoy the views the river offers. And those who decided to enjoy swimming in the river instead were greeted and carefully avoided by our captain from RhyTaxi!

An interactive object in Virtual Reality made by Darren Bader floating above the Rhine

Luís Lázaro Matos and Darren Bader also visited us, although each in a totally different way. Darren was present in augmented reality: using QR codes on our boat, guests could interact with characters from his book via their phones. Luis, on the other hand, stepped on board himself to meet our guests and talk about his book, and share ideas for new art to come.

Yet the event itself was different from the expectations of its organizers, as Luís Lázaro Matos confirms:

‘I was mostly surprised with how relaxed people were doing a boat tour in the Rhine river. It seemed like a perfect break during an art fair. I was happy that people were happy. I had great conversations that somehow became slightly more special taking into consideration how magic it was to have the river as a backdrop, together with my floating sculpture and Darren’s incredible floating augmented reality 3D characters.’

For Luís Lázaro Matos, the adventure had started before he even stepped on the boat. As in a jestful performance, a huge inflatable Santa Claus showed up in Basel by some postal mistake instead of his inflatable sculpture of a pond skater. The issue was resolved, and a pink pond skater was soon gliding on the Rhine, attracting curious visitors.

In total, more than 230 people came on board to learn about art and enjoy the views from our boat. Floating Pages welcomed participants of ArtBasel fair, book lovers, and those who just adored the idea of a boat ride with the books. The boat was welcoming everyone, making art closer to people.

And it was a surprise for everyone who joined. As one guest noted:

‘I'm local and I've been here for Art Basel many times but I've never seen anyone presenting at the boat, it's amazing.’

Participants of ArtBasel were also happy to take a break outside, still enjoying the art:

‘This boat is such a great relief from the fair. You get this fresh air and still learn about amazing art.’

Another guest noted:

‘It's a festival of art on the river. Everything is about art: from the books to small touches like the beers made with artists.’

Indeed, every guest received a “survival kit” for a smooth ride, containing ecologically and ethically packaged snacks in addition to a beer bottle from Brasserie 3 Mats (Strasbourg), which was decorated in collaboration with local French artists. Could a boat ride get any better?

Weeks after, we are still enjoying the pictures and memories from the Floating Pages event. It was a fantastic start, and soon Archivorum will bring something even better. So, see you soon!

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