A few weeks back, Art Basel Miami Beach 2015 took place, alongside a number of other fairs. Vanessa Albury highlights a few of her favorites from those other fairs.
Art Basel Miami Beach, the blue-chip fair on view during Miami Art Week, receives plenty of coverage. However, with 20 fairs in Miami this year, I like to explore the other fairs in-depth. Each fair has a specific appeal and missions. Untitled features many Latin American booths thanks to Director Omar López-Chahoud, under an airy tent partially lit by diffused sunlight and enhanced by an endless sea view. Satellite and X Contemporary have new fair appeal and beckon the audience to North Beach and Wynwood, respectively. Other fairs focus on local Miami artists or affordable price points.
I missed a few events and artworks I would have liked to experience, such as FriendsWithYou’s Light Spirit and TSA’s Artist Run, showing artist groups and solo projects by Penelope, Field Projects, Jess Perlitz and many others. With so much happening, copious rain, constricted traffic routes and numerous art fairs, it is impossible to see everything during Miami Art Week. Here are a few of my favorite pieces and projects from the week.
Pulse had the most video-based art I saw at the fairs in Miami this year, from pioneer video artist Name June Paik’s TV’s with aquariums to Yorgo Alexopoulos’s contemplative panoramic wave-scape in a custom video vitrine toPlay, a video series curated by Stacy Engman featuring Rachel Rampleman, Bahar Behbahani, Julius Hofmann and Nino Mustica.
LOCUS (Oslo, Norway) with works by Javier Barrios, Thale Fastvold, Marianne Darlen Solhaugstrand and Tanja Thorjussen. The artist collective LOCUS is one of about four Norwegian galleries or artists groups in Miami this year, each at different fairs. LOCUS curated a booth in Wynwood at X Contemporary, the inaugural art fair of former Select director, Matthew Eck. LOCUS was funded by OCA’s new International Support for Galleries and Temporary Exhibitions Arenas (ISGIES) grant. OCA is supporting Norwegian artists venturing into commercial art milieu, like other funding groups such as SpareBank Nord-Norge. Themes of transformation and unseen forces run through the LOCUS booth, as seen in Tanja Thorjussen’s reindeer, bird and tree branch hybrid drawings and in Thale Fastvold’s Genius Lociwith misty clouds hovering above the ground, suggesting the recent absence or developing presence of invisible energies.
Tumbling down the wall and across the floor, Yvonne Gonzalez’s Immense Blue Feeling is especially eye-catching. Eric Slayton, Flavia Souza, Elena Lyakir and Javier Barrera are also presented with the artist initiative Berlin Collective.
X Contemporary’s Producing Director Crystal Curtis facilitated panels and conversations in the Living Room. HungryForFortune (Caia Hagel and Ricarda Messner) presented Sex, Violence & The Female Gaze with an packed afternoon of interviews and artist presentations with Angela Washko, Morehshin Allahyari, Rachel Rabbit White and Rachel Small of Interview Magazine. Angela Washko presented works including her project Council on Gender Sensitivity and Behavioral Awareness in World of Warcraft. Realizing the best way to reach some people, possibly the least accessible to Washko, she enters live video games and engages other players on feminism issues within the game’s structure. Moreshin Allahyari shared her works exploring Iranian culture and feminist issues, such as her collages Like Pearls, addressing how women are objectified in the Muslim world. Her images show Islamic-friendly lingerie ads aimed at men, without showing any forbidden photos of female skin, and marketed as a means to “make her yours.”
Prosjektrom Normanns (Stavanger, Norway) with Ane Graff, Lars Morell, Elin Melberg, Kristin Velle-George, Margrethe Aanestad and Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova curated by Ian Cofre.
Prosjektrom Normanns is one of the artists run projects featured at Untitled, presenting artists who have shown in their project space in Stavanger and curated by NYC-based curator Ian Cofre. Prosjektrom Normanns is also supported by OCA’s new ISGIES grant along with support from Norway’s Consul General in New York, Elin Bergithe Rognlie, and the municipal government of Stavanger. It is refreshing to see local government entities supporting artist initiatives, an arts funding option the market-driven, US art world would benefit from exploring in greater depth. Of special note, the Consulate’s office is supporting contemporary Norwegian artists abroad, offering key funding for selected projects. Prosjektrom Normanns did not disappoint with a thoughtful and curated booth exploring shadowy and evanescent forms. They also actively engage with other artists at the fair. Margethe Aanestad mentioned that they often find new artists to bring to their space in Stavanger through their interactions at Untitled.
Site:Lab (Grand Rapids, USA) with Julie Schenkelberg.
Site:Lab is an installation-driven project run by volunteer in the rustbelt of Michigan, utilizing abandoned buildings in downtown Grand Rapids. Falling from such great heights at the peak of US automotive industry, Michigan is left with vast spaces for exciting artist interventions, including a former natural history museum and entire city blocks. Julie Schenkelberg brings new life to the detritus of former opulence in her installation for Untitled.
Gallerist Susannah Palmer shares with me Rose Wylie’s background, which is my favorite artist’s story of the trip. She explains, Wylie is one of Britain’s “Hottest New Artist” according to Germaine Greer in the Guardian, which is exciting because Wylie turned 81 this year. It’s uplifting to hear of an artist receiving her overdue acclaim and fresh-artist buzz in her later years after a lifetime commitment to creating work. In Thomas Erben’s Nada booth, her “unusual butterfly” floats on the wall endearing and unassuming. In the artist’s own words from an interview with Studio International “I don’t like super skill. I don’t like assumed drawings.”
Erika Vogt, known for her film-based installations, presents sculptures that seem like a larger than life deconstructions of what’s at the bottom of an old toolbox, junk drawer or jewelry box. Her mysterious tools and miscellaneous treasures rest against the wall as if in waiting for activation. She also performed at the ICA Miami with Performa’s Artist Theater Program, their first Miami Art Week presence.
Fiber artists are experiencing an interesting re-emergence in contemporary art. These recent works, like Alexandra Navratil’s hanging tapestries of photography negative strips, are largely aided by developments of increasingly affordable 3D printing and weaving software and equipment. This work references the drape of wet negatives after processing in the darkroom, an appealing fetish of another seemingly endangered medium.
Bakshi’s Portals project invites visitors in Miami to step into a gold painted shipping container and Live Skype with people in similar containers in Afghanistan, Hondoras, Iran and Mexico. The conversation I over heard involved some discussion of the weather and the day’s activities. This portal facilitates connections across the globe. Watching people bond over the mundane is heartwarming and adds a very human and personal moment to the chaos of Miami during ABMB.
Nari Ward comments that he was inspired by the disruption of expectation created by a neighbor in Harlem, numbers runner who had a candy shop but never sold any candy. He decided to play the same game with the white cube gallery space when he first created this Happy Smilers at Deitch Projects. Ward delivers viscerally engaging show with sincere, humorous and thoughtful messages through his found object assemblage; Sun Splashed is a must-see.
Ryan McNamara and Devonté Hynes’ collaboration was commissioned by the PAMM for Miami Art Week, coordinated by former Deputy Director of Education and Public Programs, Emily Mello and Katerina Llanes. McNamara, performing in a red bodysuit, and Hynes’ on guitar, along with 14 other dancing performers and musicians, began the show on platforms in disparate locations across the sprawling terrace at PAMM. Each platform had one musician and one performer in a monochromatic body suit matching the color of the platform, yellow, teal, red, blue… Over the course of the 2-hour performance, the platforms were slowly moved towards a point overlooking Biscayne Bay under hanging columns of lush plants; they met together like puzzle pieces. Each platform was host to an element of the same song, which became apparent as the platforms united, creating an allegory of the artists’ take on Miami with a history full of fantasy and fragmentation. With low lights, vibrant colors, euphonic sounds and an enthralled crowd, this performance was a sensual and breath-taking experience.
Vanessa Albury is a visual artist based in Brooklyn, NY and the co-creator of The Sun That Never Sets, a nomadic, incubator, film and video art gallery. Link: www.vanessaalbury.com and thesunthatneversets.com