TFW: You’re For Real Over Art Basel
Last year we lamented the Art World Spring Break that is Art Basel, and unsurprisingly, this year the focus remained on pretty much anything else BUT the art (see this utterly riveting article “In Miami, Booth Furniture as Compelling as the Art” in the New York Times). Add to this year the eerie and uncanny feeling that we were experiencing more of the week via Instagram than IRL and you find there really is no need to make the trip. You’ve heard it all already– it rained a lot, someone was stabbed, and the US’s biggest art mall remains unfazed.
So why write about it at all? A fair question, unfortunately without an answer other than to highlight what WTT? found compelling and noteworthy. (Oh yeah, and for the photos. Mostly for the photos.) If it makes you feel any better, we actually decided to bring the WTT? column back after a letter from Duncan and the stirring Homeroom program, “Self-Portrait in a Kanye Mirror” last Tuesday at the MCA (more on that later), so we’ll try to keep this one brief.
Highlights: The schadenfreude I experienced when the “monsoon” (in my mom’s words) literally rained on everyone’s Basel parade. Did you come here to “work”, or what? Also, The Littlest Sister Art Fair (and panels) at Spinello, Anselm Kiefer at Margulies Warehouse (a seriously WTF moment of awe), Coral Morphologic’s installation at SwampSpace, bbgrl Sofia Leiby’s exhibition at Michael Jon, the multicolored breakfast at The Sagamore Hotel (what was up with that art tho?), ceviche, and nearly everything at the Artist-Run Satellite fair in North Beach (hey, not mainland, but at least it’s north of Arthur Godfrey). Snacks.
Also was very feeling Martine Syms thoughtful, haunting “Art on the Move” project, NITE LIFE, at Locust Projects and on buses and signs around Overtown (pairs excellently and unfortunately with the news that David Beckham is building a soccer stadium there after richer neighborhoods turned him down. “This will be the most responsible stadium development in Miami history,” said no one truthfully ever.).
Last but not least, Rashad Newsome’s weirdly under-attended and overly-awesome “King of Arms Miami” Parade in the Design District on Tuesday, Dec 1st. The FMU musicians were rad, Newsome’s lambo was out of control, and the voguing group from NY brought it despite the lackluster crowd, comprised of what seemed like more cameras than people, a pissed off looking Jeffery Deitch and our small group. The annual TM Sisters beach hang on Monday night. Oh, and one more, the performances at Vizcaya!
The Weatherman Report
Reflections of Self-Portrait in a Kanye Mirror
Free Tuesdays are generally bustling at the MCA, though I was still surprised to see that nearly 20 minutes before the much-anticipated Homeroom’s School Night: Self-Portrait in a Kanye Mirror was set to begin on Dec 15th, the (Wolfgang Puck?) Cafe was already filled to capacity, with overflow seats starting to fill up in the central hallway of the museum.
Billed as “a multimedia info show with artists and educators who assemble to reflect on the art and life of Kanye West through the lens of their own personal Yeezus” the evenings event featured Krista Franklin, Allison Glenn, and Lisa Yun Lee with Kevin Coval, J. Johari Palacio and Anthony Stepter. And reflect they did.
Fred Sasaki of Homeroom opened the evening with his own personal Yeezus demons, cracking self-deprecating jokes about his unending love for Kanye and his own son’s disapproval of rap music. The vibe was right as Sasaki led the crowd in taking Kanye-inspired “I am a god” selfies and in singing bars of West’s hit “Runaway”. While the roster was pretty long, the guests were stellar and each presentation was just how I like it, short and sweet. The first speaker up, Anthony Stepter, made a compelling attempt to equate his life with Kanye’s, referencing the artists fateful car accident that launched his career. Next was Allison Glenn on Kanye’s “interruptions” as they relate to her own practice as a curator and writer.
Following Glenn was what (almost) seemed to be a spontaneous audience performance of a mash-up of Kanye lyrics. Next, coming to the stage to the tune of West’s “Mercy”, J. Johari Palacio presented a light and amusing stream of consciousness on Kanye’s presumed internal monologue, while Lisa Yun Lee opted to use the opportunity to discuss everything from conservative conceptions of “Black Excellence” to misogyny in rap music. While Lee was riveting, she was unfortunately paired with Kevin Coval, who’s spoken word poetry alternating with Lee’s speaking felt awkward. Fortunately, Krista Franklin was there to bring it all back together, offering her own poetic read of Kanye in her piece, “Devil in a New Dress, Or Making Paper with Kanye West.” Stunning.
After the presentations a surprisingly poignant Q&A followed, with Stepter describing his own “constructed” understanding of race in response to a statement from an audience member on anti-Black sentiment. Afterward, many at the MCA adjourned to the Soho House, where J. Johari Palacio satisfied everyone’s need to listen to Kanye songs over cocktails and good conversation. A+++. We heard that audio should be available soon if you weren’t able to attend in person. Pair that with the special mix Palacio created for the evening and enjoy your own KW AP.
After the program ended, Sasaki confided that the School series has a cathartic effect over his personal obsession. While he may have let go of Kanye after last night’s event, he only reignited our own interest in the controversial figure– currently bumping Johari’s mix and thankful for Chicago. 😉
Reading is Fundamental
Because we hate Top 5 lists but love books.
The Papi Project by Oli Rodriguez.
The IRL book culmination of Rodriguez’s ongoing interdisciplinary project including 3D photographic sculptures, video, photography and performance that investigates technology, gay/queer hookup culture and loss through the artist’s attempt to seek out men who had sexual relations with his own father. We *think* the book is available for purchase at David Weinberg, which recently hosted a portion of the project in the “Pearly Foam” exhibition curated by Meg Noe.
- Shallow Wounds: Two Accounts of Art Basel 2015. In this collaborative essay WTT? kindred spirits and fellow Miami natives, Rob Goyanes and Dave Rodriguez, expound on the oft felt Basel-related ennui, more flat tires, and Stitches getting punched in the face.
- Christian Viveros-Faune on Why Art Basel in Miami Beach Is Degrading for Art and Artists: Ben-Davis-level astuteness by Viveros-Fauné using Courbet’s The Meeting to talk about relationships between players in the art world.
Lori Waxman’s Best of:
We’re super not into pointless lists (*cough*Newcity*cough*), so good news to us (and art writing in general) that Waxman’s waxing on Chicago art in 2015 is a meaty and thoughtful review of her favorite projects of 2015. We were particularly tickled to see Trunk Show’s delightful missives getting love from Lori. We’d also like to add that their twitter, written from the perspective of the 1999 green Ford Taurus him(?)self, is also pretty hilarious.
T around Town
Because we all know that reviews are boring as fuck.
Decidedly “Meh” Article Attracts Strong Response Online
While we appreciate the effort from Chicago magazine and Jason Foumberg, the recent article “How Chicago Artists Responded to the Laquan McDonald Video” was anemic at best. The fire-y headline left us wanting more. Most lacking was any actual response by artists to the recently released video of the police shooting. It is mostly milquetoast responses by some [highly regarded] Chicago artists. There are some proverbial “shots fired,” wherein [Chicago-ish?] artist and provocateur Pedro Velez calls to Chicago’s main man, Theaster Gates, to make a statement on the situation. Gates apparently declined to comment.
While the Chicago Mag piece tamely leaves it at that, an interesting Facebook thread on Foumberg’s wall continues the conversation with quoted artists Dawoud Bey, Kate Ingold, Robb Stone and Velez adding additional context to their short statements in the article. Regarding Velez’s opinion on Gates, Bey writes “I also disagree with Pedro’s putting Theaster on the spot…as he has in other instances in the past. Not to slight anyone else, but Theaster’s tangible contribution to the city and his own community speaks volumes for his deep engagement.” A lively conversation ensues covering everything from Joe Scanlan’s lecture at UC, to Kanye West’s honorary doctorate at SAIC in 2015.
Meanwhile, in a strange and parallel universe, Chicago Tribune did manage to get a response from Theaster Gates for an article in the paper’s Lifestyle section titled “How to be a good neighbor with Theaster Gates” (can’t make this shit up). The piece does dance around some political concerns, like when Trib’s Lisa Skolnik asks, “I’ve heard you don’t like the word “gentrification.” What term do you prefer?” to which Gates responds “…I hope that what I’m doing is ethical redevelopment…”, but loses me when the “lifestyle” questions come out. Favorite mode of transit? “Roller-skating; I have Chicago Skates classic rink skates.”
Lowlights and letdowns included Art Basel Miami Beach’s Most Anticipated Collaboration (according to NYT) between Ryan McNamara and Devonté Hynes (aka Blood Orange). I don’t think the point was to be as boring as humanly possible. I felt pretty bad for Hynes, who seemed to be the most nonplussed of all. Maybe they jinxed themselves with that Coral Castle pic. The Nari Ward show was sick tho (s/o to Diana Nawi for the great work). Never enough snacks. Visiting artists’ instagrammed obsession with the hologram lady at Miami International Airport. The Braman’s massive campaign contributions to Marco Rubio (they are, btw, the family underwriting the ICA Miami) and republicans in general. Wynwood, always. Being barraged by that image of the bleeding woman in the Nova section of ABMB (can I get a trigger warning?!). That I had to choose between taking a falafel pita from Pita Plus or a Publix sub back to Chicago on the plane with me (went for the falafel FYI).
So I guess my Basel was ok? At least I finally figured out how to deliberately lower my expectations, and how to change a flat tire (thanks Misa & Domingo). Until next year.
Clear Acrylic Art Work
Header image features a detail image of Sunday Painters, originally conceived by Chelsea Culp and Ben Foch for The Hills Esthetic Center and re-staged on the occasion of “The Great Good Place” curated by Brandon Alvendia at Threewalls.
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Hey! We’re back by somewhat popular demand (aka Duncan said so). And we learned how to make video gifs! We hope you enjoyed this super belated edition of the T. Let us know what else you want to hear about by emailing us or hit us up on the tweeter y’all!