We are in the midst of a warm snap. The snow has receded. The ice has left the lakes and rivers. I dig out the fall clothes I had packed away, reluctant to leave warm hats and scarves at home. I know the cold is waiting just around the corner for me to let down my guard again, but I do not want to miss the brief reprieve. I walk through warm days and nights, trying to understand this seasonal contradiction, as I struggle to hold the contradictions that surround me.
I support and enjoy the art installed in the long waiting room of Union Depot. I often eat lunch there. I linger with people in transition, crosstown bus riders and Amtrak passengers traveling to Chicago, and I am drawn to the gentle, rippling, summery reminder of Jim Campbell’s suspended 8 ½ x 11.
I simultaneously struggle to understand why the largest and most visible artworks are by artists from outside the Twin Cities (Campbell is based in San Francisco) and why artists from outside these communities and the legacies and present realities of injustice in those communities, like Ralph Gilbert from Atlanta, whose six large murals were recently installed, are asked to “reference the railroads’ impact on the Dakota tribes and their land; [and] the importance of railroad jobs for African Americans, especially in St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood.”
8 1/2 x 11, Jim Campbell
I want to support the artists and makers whose work fills the overwhelming number of recent and upcoming holiday markets, popup shops, and art fairs. I love and would love to take home their work. I want to support artists trying to make a living and their desire to do so through their artwork, through forging and finding new ways to economically support themselves.
I simultaneously struggle with the fact that economic survival in and economic diversification of the artworld often shore up the neoliberal, capitalist systems that benefit a handful of people and visit violence on the earth and the people outside of that small minority.
Mural, Ralph Gilbert
I am filled with the deep pain, anger, frustration, hopefulness and solidarity of Million March MN and protests around the country over the weekend. I felt power dynamics being exposed when the march stopped traffic and stunned holiday shoppers looked on in disbelief and confusion. I believe the affirmation embodied in those marches that artists, that all people can come together to make change here and in cities across the country.
I simultaneously struggle with the fact that Midway Contemporary Art‘s Monster Drawing Rally fundraiser took place hours after the march. I support Midway, and the Monster Drawing Rally is an inventive, exciting way to bring together artists, collectors, and supporters to raise money. It was difficult, however, to watch hundreds of people pack in to watch artists make drawings and snatch up the drawings before they were hung on the walls. Consumption was conspicuous as people surged through crowds to be the first in line to buy a drawing, to buy drinks, to see and be seen, seemingly unaware of the larger issues and inequities in the world outside the white walls, deaf to the rallying cries still ringing in my ears.
Monster Drawing Rally, via Midway Contemporary Art
I am leaving the Twin Cities soon, moving to warmer, greener climates. I have learned so much from and in this place, but I clearly have a lot more to learn. These paradoxes in the artworld and in the rest of the world happen everywhere. I must remember that I am not alone in trying to understand and make sense of these worlds, that we all must struggle to make meaning of the contradictions that surround us. I am reminded as I enter a new place, a new art community that all of the knowledge and experience I think I have is simply a place from which to start learning and growing.
I can hold complexity and contradiction; I can move with and through and around that uncomfortable unresolvability. I remember that I am privileged in ways I know and in ways I cannot see. I will continue learning. I will continue making. I will continue to use the privilege and access I have to reflect and shine light on the inequalities and injustice around me.
Daily, as a ritual, I read a book on the train entering and returning from the city. Usually I read a book set in the past, and usually fiction, although this month it is Christian Dior’s autobiography: Dior by Dior.
The train delivers me to one of two jobs. At one, I volunteer to construct Victorian sets for early 20th century plays. I am surrounded with petroleum oil lamps and a costume closet of lace petticoats. With a thrust towards being elsewhere, I try on a pair of above-the-elbow gloves.
“One of the strangest facts about a couturier’s profession – which the uninitiated find the most incomprehensible – is that a fashion is always decidedly out of season. The winter collection is worked upon in the season of lilac and cherry-blossom, the summer collection when the leaves or the first snow is falling. We couturiers are like poets. A little nostalgia is necessary for us. We like to dream of summer in the middle of winter and vice versa.” – Christian Dior
Dior is filled with strategies of being elsewhere. The book details the life of a humble man designing a fashion line, his name becoming synonymous with the industry after his first ever collection called The New Look, designed at the age of forty.
Christian Dior is an old fashioned man. This is known from his opinion about hats, for example. At a time, even 1946, when hats were worn less, Dior refused to show a collection without them. “Personally I consider a woman without a hat is not completely dressed…’How pretty you look today!’ often means no more than: ‘How well your hat suits you!’”
A structural backbone to the fashion collection is described: from the first brainstormed sketches to the final runway showing and later, appointments conducted with department store buyers. The autobiography is a diaristic preservation of decorum. Sacred rules punctuate the book, from how to scent the couture salon before a runway show, to a seating arrangement, to correct proportion of vacation in the country to industriousness in the city, enumerated by threats of throwing this or that dress into the waste paper basket.
Even the dresses live by ceremonious rules.
“I scribble everywhere, in bed, in my bath, at meals, in my car, on foot, in the sun, in electric light, by day, and by night. Bed and bath, where one is not conscious, so to speak, of one’s body, are particularly favourable to inspiration; here one’s spirit is at ease.” – Christian Dior
The decorum of writing struck me recently in a folded image of orange-gloved hands, holding pencil and paper, within a crowded subway car as part of Moyra Davey’s ongoing photographic series called Subway Writers from 2011. The series documents people writing in the subway. From the slight blur and close crop, the image has a covert nature. Photographs also appear within Davey’s oeuvre of readers in transit. Sometimes, her work operates through the sending and receiving of mailed photographs and letters, as well as the reading and displaying of these correspondences.
Moyra Davey, Orange Gloves, 2012, From the Subway Writers, C-print, 12 x 17.5 inches, tape, postage ink
Christian Dior knows best that images have the possibility of bringing lost details into new circulation, a dropped hemline, a padded waist. And until the final showing of a new collection – partially resurrected past – he guards his world against prying eyes.
He writes, “In every direction, there are signs that the new collection is being prepared. This happy world of wool and silk is sternly guarded against intruders. Whenever there is a rumor that a stranger is approaching, veils of white toile are flung over everything, covering the new materials and obscuring the accessories. The busy workroom is transformed in an instant into a peaceful deserted salon.”
At one point in the autobiography, Dior stops short of describing a dress rehearsal and allows a stranger’s perspective. The chosen stranger was a person who had never entered the couture world before. It is to this outsider that Dior submits his white toile and muslin secrecy.
The narrative continues from this outside voice. “When I first reached the landing on the first floor, I lost myself in white muslin. Successfully evading this first barrage of snow, I had to overcome a second, through which I was firmly but courteously rebuffed by a disembodied hand.”
In Davey’s photographs writers and readers are seen existing elsewhere, their head in a book or correspondence. The outsider’s voice is not shared, we are rebuffed. To see a photograph of a letter being written, no matter on what and to whom, reminds me that I would like to write a letter. Whether or not I really have the desire to write, the image provides a homesickness obliquely resonant with its original definition. Nostalgia originated as a purportedly deadly medical condition from the English Civil War, the term with which soldiers were diagnosed when suffering symptoms of endlessly audible echo leftover from the clamorous battle.
Co-curated by Dawoud Bey, Michelle Grabner, Caroline Picard, and Daniel Sauter, Allison Peters Quinn and Kate Lorenz, with work by Evan Baden, Hannah Barco, Greg Browe, Houston Cofield, Maggie Crowley, Barbara Diener, Assaf Evron, Andrew Holmquist, Kelly Lloyd, Jesse Malmed, Esau McGhee, Ben Murray, Celeste Rapone, Kyle Schlie, Tina Tahir, Keijaun Thomas, Daniel Tucker, Ramyar Vala, Julie Weber and Nicole Wilson
Hyde Park Art Center is located at 5020 S. Cornell Ave. Reception Friday, 6-8pm.
When I moved back to Miami from New College in Sarasota in 2009, a new gallery opened on NW 7th Ave called OHWOW (Our House West of Wynwood). During that year’s edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, OHWOW mounted an exhibition called “It Ain’t Fair” which included a work by Aaron Young entitled “Locals Only.”
Nearby on 41st Street, Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz debuted their 3 story, 30,000 sq foot private museum space including an Ana Mendieta vault that had it’s own separate lock and was only open for viewing when Mrs. de la Cruz was in the building.
That same year the now shuttered Bar on 14th street opened as a facsimile of NYC’s Max Fish. I’m pretty sure that 2009 was also the year that Pharrell William’s debuted the chair he designed in partnership with Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin. I always thought the chair looked pretty coital. Looking back, maybe it was an omen of the celebrity clusterfuck to follow in the coming years as the collectors slowly shed their post-crash modesty. At least William’s makes his home in Miami (Poor guy can’t leave, no one wants to buy his Brickell penthouse!).
Noting that 2009 was the first edition of the fair in the aftermath of the US economic depression, Karen Rosenberg described ABMB as a “delicate organism… [that] requires sunlight, optimism and an abundant supply of collectors with open wallets,” in her review for the New York Times.
Despite the tepid state of the economy, she noted that the fair and its sales weren’t affected too, too much. Aside from this, the most notable thing about the review is the fact that it is primarily ABOUT THE ART. She discusses Kehinde Wiley’s large scale painting of Michael Jackson and Tom Scicluna and Nicolas Lobo’s pirate radio station at NADA, which had just moved to Miami Beach’s Deauville Hotel from the Ice Palace on North Miami Ave.
Fast forward to 2014, and there is so much competing for your attention that the art itself gets lost and even Eva and Adele look routine.
Me, nearish to Eva & Adele in 2009 outside the convention center. I think my friend Cesar Mantilla made me take this.
Since 2009, the increasingly extensive coverage granted to the Miami art extravaganza in the Times is primarily confined to parties, celebrity, prices and failure. In light of the rampant societal problems plaguing our country, this year a troubled anxiety hung around the fair and it’s corresponding events. Trayvon Martin, Reefa, Mike Brown and Eric Garner were in everyone’s eyes, on their minds and protruding from their lips. While the general merriment and partying persevered, it certainly had an effect on the vibe. Or at least my experience of it (Linda Yablonsky seemed unfazed).
Kristin “says something smart.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, the ever eloquent Liz Tracy.
I actually read this sentence in a NYT Magazine recap of the week: “The most quintessentially South Floridian event must have been the island housewarming of the prominent Russian collector Maria Baibakova, who chartered VanDutch boats to speed guests though the twilight to the Spanish mansion formerly inhabited by Cher.”
I almost couldn’t think of anything less “quintessentially South Floridian” than a Russian collector’s housewarming party (gag me with a spoon). Also, isn’t it “Von Dutch”? Or maybe I just haven’t ascended quite yet. After this I probably never will. What do New Yorkers know about Miami anyway? Don’t worry y’all, I care about art and I’ll give it to you straight.
Stopped in a Churchill’s one night to confirm to myself that some things never change.
Personally, my nomination for “most South Floridian” would be for #ihaitibasel, or the Thursday night Kelela/ Future Brown performance at the Perez Art Museum Miami (formerly the Miami Art Museum, but at least the word Miami is still IN the name).
Knowing my hometown a little too well, I would also have to nominate the opening of a new “institution,” the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, as the most Miami thing possible. More on that elsewhere in this edition of the T.
#ihaitibasel was a week long event at various spaces [loosely] in the Little Haiti neighborhood that featured local and visiting artists alike. The front page of the #ihaitibasel website invites you to explore various venues on the mainland of Miami, as most ABMB visitors flock to the island of Miami Beach and never leave. For most Miami artists, the mainland is where the year round action is. It’s also where the majority of people live and work.
An online map pointed out venues like Swampspace, run by the delightful Oliver Sanchez, and Gucci Vitton, the artist run gallery on 82nd street that has received much deservedattention for their exhibition by Ida Eritsland, Geir Haraldseth and Agatha Wara (formerly of Bas Fisher Invitational) in collaboration with Bjørnar Pedersen.
Oceans of Notions at Swampspace.
The large thin reified internet banners hanging in Monday night’s Luxury Face opening commented on contemporary culture and trends through digitally collaged images and non sequitur text about babies and consumerism. I caught up with friends and spotted someone in a “Bad at Sports” t-shirt. Monday night and we were already in full swing.
Luxury Face at Gucci Vitton.
Monday night also saw the semi-local opening at Emerson Dorsch Gallery, featuring Miami artists Hugo Montoya and Brandon Opalka, as well as the NY gallery Regina Rex’s “Cemeterium,” a sprawling sculpture/ performance garden in the Dorsch’s back yard.
Work by Hugo Montoya at Dorsch.
The title of the exhibition, “BACK ON EARTH, a tragicomedy in two parts,” fits the rambunctious Montoya to a T. At the opening, Montoya toured me through his show, relating his epic journey to retrieve the negative for a large print of the artist as an adolescent in headgear from his mom’s house. Then he turned off the lights in the gallery to bask in his backlight metallic fountains on mirrored plinths.
Hugo Montoya on view in the de la Cruz Collection kitchen.
Light’s out on Montoya’s sculpture fountains.
Despite the fact that I still can’t help but call it the Miami Art Museum, I thought the Thursday night PAMM first anniversary party was pretty boss, and I didn’t even find DIS Magazine THAT obnoxious. Miami should be the focus of these types of events and I was pleased to see my city and its major new museum in such flattering light (I did think the water jetpacks were a little much, though).
Mark Handforth’s light installation with work by Gean Moreno and Ernesto Oroza.
Leyden Rodriguez, Frances Trombly, Gean Moreno and Glexis Novoa at PAMM Thursday night.
LOCALS ONLY CONTINUES in the middle column…
T around Town
I’m pretty sure that people in Chicago are more aware of the celebrities on view at Art Basel Miami Beach than I do, so for your viewing pleasure here are some Miami celebrities and going’s on. Oh, and FYI, grids and artist designed towels were REALLY in guys.
Adler Guerrier inside of his exhibition at PAMM on Thursday night’s anniversary party and opening.
Work in Guerrier’s exhibition, Formulating a Plot. The signs say things like “don’e be bored, alarmed or afraid Blck Power is equitable.”
Amanda Sanfillipo in the Locust Project’s booth at NADA.
Work by Daniel Arsham in the Locust Project space on North Miami Ave.
The gorgeous Anita outside before performing at the Zone’s Art Fair on 82nd Street.
All I want for Christmas is this beautiful diptych by NY based artist, Carson Fisk Vittori (right). These and other works were on view in the Carrie Secrist booth at Untitled.
A enormous sun print by Chris Duncan at the entrance to Untitled. Duncan’s work was on view with Halsey Mckay Gallery.
Best ever instagram of the Art World: Sibylle Friche caught this precious moment in front of a painting by Tim Bergstrom, also in the Hasley McKay booth.
Local favorites, Dracula, performs at Emerson Dorsch gallery on Friday, Dec. 5th.
Ran into an old friend, Jordan Thompson, screen printing at Marc Jacobs’ new story with his business The Fine Print Shoppe.
Marc gets it.
The Weatherman Report
For Miami FL
Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome, originally designed in 1965, in the Miami Design District.
LOCALS ONLY CONTINUED…
Everyone was there and looking real cute. I ran into Nicholas Frank outside under the H&VM fern trellises and toured the museum’s exhibitions with him. I nearly freaked out at a man who was touching my favorite Thomas Hirschhorn gold CNN piece, but otherwise enjoyed seeing the work on display and checking out all the new collection gifts PAMM has received in the past year (many of which I recognized from my work with the Craig Robins Collection in the Design District). The GPS exhibition was impressive, though not over hung (like everything else everywhere— looking at you Bass Museum, Peter Marino).
Nicholas Frank takes in a monumental work by Gary Simmons at the PAMM.
Could you not? Also, how is it that if I sniff a work of art I’m toast, but this guy can just manhandle the art!?
Laz Rodriguez and Dana Goldstein outside of PAMM on Thursday night.
The Queen, Kelela, performing in the rain outside of PAMM.
Right outside PAMM in front of Biscayne Bay, Kelela’s performance was entrancing to say the least, and she was totally a trooper. As the audience ran for cover in the face of a tiny Miami drizzle she just kept singing, working the fog machine rain combo like a genie in a flowy blue dress. I spotted Dev Hynes of Blood Orange in the crowd along with Miami artists Dylan Romer, Lazaro Rodriguez and Dana Goldstein. Just before I had to leave to see Clams Casino and FKA Twigs with my friends at Young Arts, we were kicked out for taking off our wristbands too soon. ¯\_(?)_/¯
FKA Twigs was chill. You can read Rob’s review of the performance, and I am 100% in agreement with his take. Also, maybe a good time to note that WTF!? Gigi’s in Midtown was owning Basel events on the mainland.
Gallery Diet’s Emmett Moore booth at Design Miami. From the Design Miami blog, photo by James Harris. (I left my phone in the car so I’m missing images of Coral Morphologic, too.).
Other highlights included the opening of Design Miami, and specifically the presence of two booths in the back corner of the fair (near the bathrooms): the Gallery Diet solo booth by Emmett Moore, and Coral Morphologic’s booth complete with a sea anemone Oculus Rift and ceiling projection. Moore, a native of Miami, continues to impress with his artistic design work. His quirky, modular pieces had everyone in Miami talking and beaming with pride. I would take the whole booth (including that sweet printed packing blanket). Days after the opening we heard that other galleries (including Chicago’s own Volume Gallery) were clamoring for meetings with the young designer.
Coral Moropho’s Jared McKay posts about meeting Andre 3000 in their Design Miami booth.
Work by Pepe Mar in the David Castillo pop-up exhibition.
Far and away the best exhibition I encountered last week was Guaynabichean Odyssey by José Lerma, curated by Kristin Korolowicz at David Castillo’s new permanent space on Lincoln Road. Unfortunately, Castillo’s strange and unfortunately flat “pop-up” on the ground level distracted from Lerma’s show, as many people I spoke to had visited the raw and defunct club space chocked full art, but missed the new space on the 4th floor.
Upstairs, Korolowicz took me on a wonderful tour of the exhibition, discussing Lerma’s interest in Ponce de Leon and the Fountain of Youth. The triangulation of Lerma being from Puerto Rico and mounting the exhibition in Miami was just too perfect. There was also a large scale shower curtain depicting a baroque recreation of the Fountain. All of the figures had characteristic Lerma double eyes, I couldn’t help but sympathize.
Lerma’s coup de grâce was presented in the back of the exhibition space where the artist had created a mind bending hyper colorful light installation with paintings (a visual timeline starting with Ponce de Leon and ending close to present day, as the paintings became increasingly smaller). It was really amazing, but hard to explain without seeing— check out the video of the installation above. Just before leaving I ran into Miami celebs Otto Von Schirach and Monica Lopez De Victoria of the TM Sisters (who had a very cool palm tree installation in the weird club). As always, they looked ready for their close up so I made them take a photo in front of Lerma’s work.
Monica and Otto. Now in technicolor. PS- At the opening Monica told me her to-die-for vintage dress was by Miami fashion designer Sheila Natasha, who’s in the collection of the Met!
Agustina Woodgate’s radio broadcast from Spinello’s AUTO BODY exhibition on the beach was also among my favorite offerings. While I unfortunately missed the performances (I really really wanted to see Kembra, Naama and Cheryl, but I could only take so much beach commotion and traffic), it was delightful to listen to Woodgate’s deep voice and adorable diction as I braved what felt like every single inch of Florida highway from Ives Dairy Road to the Rickenbacker Causeway.
Agustina invited a cadre of female movers and shakers that included personal faves, Lauren “Lolo” Reskin of Sweat Records (voted by me as obviously the best record store in Miami) and musician/ stylist Sarah Attias. On the way to visit my cousins in Davie, I got really into trying to understand the engrossing conversation between Woodgate and Karla Damian, from Miami Dade Transport about public transit in Miami en español.
Saturday night, after stopping in to see AUTO BODY, I headed down to Vizcaya for the worst named exhibition at pretty much the best place in the city. If you don’t know what Vizcaya is, educate yourself. It’s totally worth visiting outside of Art Basel, and it’s what elementary school field trips are made of. I just love it there. Even better, the outdoor sculpture exhibition was a showcase of Miami’s best and brightest including Felecia Carlisle, Adler Guerrier, Brookhart Jonquil, Jillian Mayer, Emmett Moore, Christina Peterson and Magnus Sigurdarson (with Domingo Castillo).
Float in the Vizcaya pool by MFA students from the Florida International University’s College of Architecture + The Arts
I ran into the entire Newberry family, and was delighted to make the acquaintance of the Moore family as well. I had a lovely chat with Misael Soto waiting in line for a glass of wine where we discussed his killer performance series, this is happening, at Dorsch and his own work as an artist. I was surprised to happen upon Siebren Versteeg in the hedge maze, where he mentioned how enchanted he was by visiting the baroque Italian-style gardens and mansion last year that he made a point to return for 2014’s opening.
Late Sunday night, outside of the 71st street warehouse, as I watched a squarish blonde girl with her tits out scream at a crowd of what I was told were “a bunch of Bushwick hipsters who hadn’t been hugged enough by their parents,” the goings on of the last week swirled in my head. I wish I had time to ruminate more, maybe write many pieces instead of this near stream of consciousness. I couldn’t stop thinking about Young’s “Local’s Only” and how annoyed I was with the whole affair, the back and forth, the distractions.
The dance troupe who performed with Zebra Katz performing outside of the warehouse on 71st Street.
There was so much going on I started to feel bad for not feeling bad about missing many of the cool things and people I was in close proximity to. (Sidenote: I am pleased, though, that I missed the instagram panel in favor of Dan Duray’s snarky coverage.) Thankfully, I ran into Ibett and Juan from the de la Cruz Collection and their candid company put me at ease.
OP-ED: WTF is going on with the ICA?
Will the battle of the acronyms end with a whimper?
Before we get started a short recap: Bonnie Clearwater failed to secure the money to expand the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), left for Fort Lauderdale, a 26 year old curator named Alex Gartenfeld became the interim director, the board wanted to merge with the Bass Museum on South Beach, but, after a bitter battle against the city of North Miami ultimately ended up splitting off, creating a new museum in the posh Design District, taking collection objects and digital assets with them.
Now that I’ve had the chance to discuss its opening with Miamians and see the space for myself, I have a few questions and things to put down in digital ink. I grew up attending MOCA and formative parts of my art education took place in the museum. To this day, I think that Ruba Katrib’s stint at the museum brought some of the best and most thoughtful solo surveys I’ve ever seen (Ceal Floyer, Ryan Trecartin, Claire Fontaine & Katrib is now at the Sculpture Center to boot).
The behind the scenes stories I’ve heard about the gutting of MOCA make me physically ill. It’s seriously some Vice City shit. For example, how did the ICA get away with stealing all of MOCA’s computers?! It’s totally loca. I haven’t met Alex Gartenfeld, but it seems like the entire city (minus his sleepover buddy, Irma) thinks he’s a jerk, and the fact that he declined to apply for grants which MOCA depends on seems to support that opinion. Seriously not cute.
Speaking of grants, I also can’t quite wrap my head around WHY the Knight Foundation felt it necessary or appropriate to fund the ICA, when the vanity institution clearly has the advantage of a strong and wealthy board, as well as extremely wealthy supporters. Meanwhile, they pulled a 5 million dollar grant from the MOCA for lack of confidence.
Finally, I just don’t understand why the Brahman’s couldn’t put up the money for the North Miami expansion when it ends up that now they are building a whole new museum out of pocket! That is of course, unless the board just felt that North Miami was too poor and the demographic too black to host a world class museum, or be worth the investment. It certainly wouldn’t be as brag-worthy as a shiny new space in an up and coming area of town valued at 1.4 billion dollars. And if that is the case then I guess I have to admit, it all makes sense.
I know a lot of people have been passing around this article on the internet in the wake of Basel. So here is my version of Is Art a Mere Luxury Good? by Georges Didi-Huberman, Giorgio Agamben and Pierre Alferi et al., modified to reflect my feelings about the ICA:
It seems urgent to us in this moment to demand that public institutions cease to serve the interests of individual collectors through adherence to their ‘artistic’ choices and real estate whims. We don’t have a moral lesson to give. We only want to open a long-deferred debate and say why we do not see the inauguration of the Institute for Contemporary Art Miami as any cause for celebration.
Based on the opinions of my colleagues, the future of the MOCA is grim to say the least. Especially with a shiny new ICA on the horizon in the Design District. And where is Bonnie Clearwater in all of this!?
Please help me figure it out! Are we there yet?
And another thing. The underhanded dealings of the ICA may not be surprising to most, and something about blaming “TINA” as an excuse for local artists and patrons supporting the museum. Others are staying silent on the matter, probably in order to keep their options open and not bristle the omnipotent Knight Foundation. But I am surprised that in all of the discussions of #BlackLivesMatter and Art Basel that this situation and its impact on the community of North Miami wasn’t picked up in any big way by the media (I suspect that the issue is too complicated and the major players too rich to affiliate spuriously with the murder of black men across the country).
Even the usually upbeat Theaster Gates couldn’t help but voice his own discomfort at the lack of race discourse during the art fair while sitting on a panel with Paula Crown for the artist’s TRANSPOSITION installation. The Mykki Blanco incident cast Jeffery Dietch’s mistakenly calling P. Diddy “Kanye West” at an art fair last year in a different light. Does he not care about Black people either? What was up with Miley Cyrus?
#ihaitibasel Creates Safe Space for Weary Miami Art Crowd
Collective Calls Attention to Little Haiti Neighborhood
More effecting and impressive than the demonstrations that shut down I-195 (and certainly more poignant than getting arrested for the sake of publicity) was the unmistakable presence of #ihaitibasel.
Showing up late at night after art hopping across the city, I knew I’d see at least a familiar face or two. #ihaitibasel felt insulated from the foreign invasion east of the bay. It just felt real real, like General Practice, or La Cueva on a better than good night. Being in a warehouse on 71st Street, or at the Thrift Store/ Concert Hall on 59th street eased the tension and strangeness I and everyone else [with a heart] felt as complicit participators in the extreme hedonism of the week.
Jorge Rubiera, Monica Peña and Max Johnston outside on the opening night of #ihaitibasel.
The collective organization of the event was a welcome anecdote to the celebrity hosted parties on the beach, favoring content and substance over ego. The producers, Tara Long (Miami), Kathryn Chadason (NYC), Sarah MK Moody (Miami), Ariella Mostkoff, Emily Singer (NYC), Elizabeth Kenney (NYC), Deon Rubi (Miami) and Tatiana Devere (Miami) were approached by the owners of the Little Haiti Thrift Store, Mimi and Schiller Sabon-Jules, after a ‘Little Haiti Small Business Association’ meeting at the Caribbean Marketplace just six weeks before the event was scheduled to take place.
The media’s conflation of killer cops and Art Basel Miami Beach caused me to wonder if Black lives will matter through the next news cycle or not. Especially now that we have a new distraction to worry about in the CIA torture briefs. While our peers across the country demonstrated and hosted conversations about race politics in the United States, attendees at #ihaitibasel came together, shared culture (and this unmarked passion fruit “beverage” that was pretty off the chain) and tried to get along.
One of the most affecting moments of the entire trip was the procession during #ihaitibasel’s opening night on Wednesday, December 3rd. The evening featured the release of the Strangeways zine with a performance by Richard Kennedy of Hercules and the Love Affair. I managed to buy myself a fur muff for Chicago from Mimi Sabon-Jules, who owns the store with her husband, Schiller. (The thrift store is a freaking goldmine for fur and other winter accessories that are irrelevant in Miami.)
Kennedy performing inside of the Little Haiti Thrift Store.
I actually ran into Melena Ryzik interviewing Schiller. When I inquired, Ryzik cagily responded that she wrote for the New York Times. Cool. Whatever, at least she seemed to be into it. Afterwards the Haitian music group, Kriz Rara, led a parade that traveled all the way from 59th street to the satellite space on 71st street where another local, Rainer Davies and his band performed spotless instrumental covers of Sade songs for the audience. It sounded and felt like magic.
Mimi Sabon-Jules running behind the Kriz Rara parade up NE 2nd Ave.
There were certainly lots of young hip New Yorkers (see: anyone from outside of Miami) around #ihaitibasel (most likely due to the presence of performers like Prince Rama, Zebra Katz and Mykki Blanco), but there were also a ton of local Haitian people from the area and a good sampling of Miami artists.
Zebra Katz performing “Ima Read” at the Little Haiti Thrift Store.
#ihaitibasel gave me a great excuse to avoid the traffic and excess of the beach. It felt fresh and was something I’d want to do outside of art week (I still can’t get over that whole Miley Cyrus thing. Straight up just don’t get why people want to see her perform so badly. I saw the VMA’s and that was enough.).
Shout out to the powerful women who put the festivities together. I’m looking forward to seeing more from the group in the months and years to come.
T around Town Continued…
Very cool sculpture work by Matt Nichols. Feeling his Brancusi vibes, though I hated how overcrowded Untitled (and all of the fairs felt). You don’t have to cover every square inch! And while I’m at it, the thing where the booths rotate the work each day is just dumb. Who goes to the same fair every day to see the work change? I’m showing up once and I want to see it all.
Really gorgeous ekat weaving by Margo Wolowiec at NADA.
Work by Tony Lewis and the ever adorable gallerist, Eric Rushman, at Shane Campbell’s booth in NADA.
Monique Meloche and gallery director, Allison Glenn, speak with artists Derrick Adams and new friend Sam on the last day of Untitled. The group is framed by Ebony Patterson sculptures in MM’s booth.
Naama Tsabar and Agustina Woodgate at the Mikesell’s annual house party.
A patron getting their photo taken in front of work by Alex Isreal at the de la Cruz Collection.
Brad Lovett and I on Konstanin Grcic’s Netscape in the Miami Design District.
Oli and Lulu Sanchez at Swampspace.
Work by Julie Bena at Joseph Tang’s booth in NADA.
The localist of the local. Kevin Arrow’s Beatles Mandala (Amor=Love) celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Beatles landing in Miami Beach on Collins and 73rd Street. Arrow of #myhandholdingthings fame, traveled to India to complete work on the mandala earlier this year.
Crowded at Sad Bar. I mean, Sand Bar.
Ran into fellow ACRE alumn, Theo Elliot, at NADA.
Chris Cook helping Shannon Stratton show off her shoes at PAMM on Thursday night.
The dude from Xeno & Oaklander matching himself during a performance at Gramps on Friday night.
Header image is a detail of work by Glexis Novoa titled Luz Permanente (Ivan Shadr), 2013, Graphite on canvas, 6 x 12 feet, on view at the Perez Art Museum Miami.
Three plywood boxes — each about the length of a coffin — sit atop wooden sawhorses, constructed simply and directly, the wood left unfinished or adorned. They look generic; like shipping crates for telescopes, homemade pummel horses — or better — low rent Donald Judd’s. A dig against Minimalism and Modernism’s consequence on societal aesthetics, where everything becomes bland geometry by accident. One end of each box excretes an electrical cord, snaking down to speakers which play a soundtrack of white noise. On the other end, a lens provides a window to the interior of the boxes. Displayed with the lens side forming a center, they create a performative space, demanding one viewer at a time to crouch down and peer through it. The objects in the installation create a sprawling mess shattering space, as power cords trail out towards the walls, between legs and in plain view, without apology.
Mike Kelley Channel #1, #2, #3, 1994 Exhibited at Tate Modern, photo taken from the internet
Looking through the peepholes one discovers slender tunnels — colons made of tinfoil illuminated by red, blue and yellow lights. The experience is immediately underwhelming. All components are quickly transparent; as the emptiness from viewing the first interior gives way to boredom by the third. An acute awareness of time produced from the bodily act of viewing the work hurries one away. Channel #1, #2, #3 is undeniably bodily throughout, down to the material manipulation by Kelley. Crinkling and wringing the tin foil, tinkering, like a guy in his garage on a Saturday, searching for some truth within the solace of a project.
Mike Kelley Channel #1, #2, #3, 1994 (lens detail) Exhibited at Tate Modern, photo taken from the internet
It is within bowing to peer into a peep show of glowing colons that something unexpectedly humbling can happen. Within three choices of primary color tunnels of light, one is able to be in the private audience of God: what only near death victims and alien abductees experience through trauma is offered up pain free. From the center of the installation begins the infinite within the finite, but like Being John Malkovich. (Rather, BJM takes its cue from Channel # 1, #2, #3.) One can approach these simple containers with expectations of beauty inside them, and find an honesty that deflates not just this experience, but perhaps the entirety of experience. That existence is merely a series of beautifully mundane moments possessing the amount of excitement that a prize from a novelty toy vending machine can generate. Is it blissful disappointment? Some abject loss tied to our subconscious? Maybe something this immediately disappointing can also be so gratifying.
Mike Kelley, Channel #1, #2, #3 (looking through the lens) iPhone photo of page 77 of Mike Kelley 1985 – 1996 catalog. Exhibition and catalog produced by the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, 1997
The Armchair Critic is an attempt to consider works of art through their representation in photographs, while replacing what is lost in an imagined, portable experience.