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Art for All: A Conversation with Monica Ray Scott, Founder of Basel Art Summer Camp
A one-of-a-kind event for artists and art lovers during the week of Art Basel.
Feature 27 Apr 2024
An image of Monica Ray Scott

Meet, Monica Ray Scott, the creative force behind the Basel Art Summer Camp, an innovative initiative poised to redefine Art Basel Week. Driven by her fervent belief in art accessibility, Monica conceived this community-driven event to provide emerging artists and art content creators with a unique platform to showcase their work. Set against the backdrop of the centrally located Hyve hostel, which doubles as both accommodation for the participants and their exhibition space, the Basel Art Summer Camp promises a week-long celebration of creativity and innovation. In this interview, we learn more about Monica’s inspiration, the journey of bringing the project to life, plus more.

What inspired the creation of the Basel Art Summer Camp?

A couple of things – growing up in a town near Basel meant that Art Basel has always been one of the weeks “I come back home for” no matter where I am currently living or working – still today 15 years later. When I was a student, it was my favorite place to get summer jobs. I spent many editions of the fair working for ArtReview at their magazine stand and once or twice worked for MCH Group as a guard for the works in one of the first editions of the Art Parcours. It was super exciting as a student to get a glimpse behind the scenes of such an exclusive event, not necessarily a place I would be shopping around for art… Even though art is something I’m very much into and now being past the student years, it is definitely something I could imagine buying and investing in. Over the years I’ve been exploring different types of affordable art. When I was a student, I gave myself a budget of 150 CHF a year to buy something and would usually get prints from other graduates. It’s still something I continue to do and with each new stage of life, my budget gradually grows. I still sometimes get prints or small works directly from artists, but also at smaller galleries/art shops when traveling. Two shops I recently discovered in Portugal end of last year were Apaixonarte and O Galleria and I do remember thinking to myself that I don’t know many places like that in Switzerland. With all that backstory and having a seed in my brain of wanting to find affordable art, I’d say two things truly brought the full thing to fruition. Last year we worked with the artist Eddie Hara to refurbish two vintage vending machines and put them up during the week of Art Basel with tiny artworks inside. It was super short notice, a bit of a scrappy project – but we made it, and artists from around the world sent in their tiny works to be added. One of the places we put them up was Hyve Hotel, and as we occasionally go by to collect the coins and have a coffee, the owner and the people that work there have become our friends over the year, so I thought what better place to host something? End of the year 2023 I went to Art Basel Miami, which was a completely different experience. The satellite fairs were almost more fun than the real fair (I spent most my time at Untitled last year) and it was great to see how every restaurant, club, and bar used the week’s festivities as a way to host an art-themed event. It was a lot more relaxed in terms of who is “allowed” to host an art event. There were all sorts of pop-ups and events where you could see art being created and buy art – or painted sneakers – and I thought it was a lot of fun. So, trying to bring a bit of the Miami feeling back to Basel by hosting young, emerging artists, in the hostel who will exhibit and sell their work there. But also, and more importantly for people who aren’t (yet) at the stage where they are represented by a gallery – and a gallery that gets to show at Art Basel – to be able to come to Basel, stay for free, and experience the city during art week. I’m also super excited about showing them all the fun stuff the city has to offer, like swimming or sitting in the Rhine, the beautiful Beyeler Foundation, all the museums, and much more.

Can you share the criteria for how you selected the artists and Art Content Creators for the Basel Art Summer Camp? What specific qualities were you looking for?

Through the vending machine project and a small TikTok channel I’ve been using to share art travels and art stories, I’ve been able to connect with artists and their friends gradually over the last year. So, most of them are people that I’ve met through TikTok or Instagram. For example, a while back I saw that Madeline Argy, who was Central Cee (UK rapper)’s girlfriend at the time had a painting of him in one of her Instagram photos. I asked on TikTok if anyone knew the artist. Found her, we chatted a couple of times, and even tried to do something for Miami – but it was too short notice, and now it’s finally happening. Just seeing how excited she was, was a motivation. Another artist Onka actually reached out through you as an ArtGorgeous IG post. I happened to be at a New Writer’s Workshop with Frieze in April, popped by her studio, we clicked and now she’s joining too. One artist was an illustrator I had previously bought work from in Portugal and the print shop. So yeah, it is wonderful how the digital interactions become physical and vice versa and I think it’s really great how social media helps make these connections.

We’ll be announcing each of the nine artists on a dedicated Instagram channel if you want to see more of them here.

What kind of networking opportunities can artists, art content creators, and attendees expect during the event?

We will also be hosting 5 art content creators and writers. Being in the world of writing and social media myself I can see how beneficial it is for artists to connect with writers and vice versa – to share the stories behind the people and the work. So, the artists and content creators will be living with each other for a week. For attendees we have a couple of things lined up – of course, the main thing being this pop-up gallery with works from all 9 artists as well as the possibility to buy things there and then and this shop experience at the Hyve Hostel where anyone can come by 13-16 June and browse and buy art. We’ll be launching a Kickstarter to help fund the initiative and in there we’ll include different “rewards” and activities that attendees can donate with but also get something in return. For example, joining the opening night reception in the presence of the artists, an exclusive VIP dinner with the artists, two of the artists will be hosting a workshop, one will be doing a live mural, and more.

How will the exhibition space be organized within the Hyve Hostel to showcase the works of the participants?

There are two open spaces on the bottom floor – one opens up to a bar area – we’ll exhibit across the two rooms allocating a pillar per artist. There is a small connecting room between the two where we’ll set up a shop. That is the plan at least. We’ll spend Wednesday together setting things up – so who knows what could happen.

Can you elaborate on the types of events and activities planned for art lovers and collectors throughout the week of the Basel Art Summer Camp?

  • Live mural 
  • Workshops with the artists
  • An exclusive meet and greet dinner with the artists
  • An opening night with drinks and hanging out with the artists
  • Everyday open doors, drinks at the bar
  • Last but not least we will also be creating a postcard set for anyone who wants to support us but cannot be there in person, so we’ll send them a set of postcards with a postcard from each artist

You can find out more about Basel Art Summer Camp here.

You can back the Kickstarter here.

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