By Wendy Windercal Dec 18, 2018



The much-anticipated Art Basel descended upon Miami for its 17th edition in the newly renovated Miami Beach Convention Center.  In conjunction to the main event, dozens of unaffiliated satellite fairs spread throughout the city thrusting Miami Art Week into a global destination.


The week kicked-off at Faena’s “This Is Not America.”  This multidisciplinary festival originated with Alfredo Jaar’s 1987 video art piece “A Logo for America.”  The electronic billboard mounted on a boat sailing across the coastline contained a loop of images of the flag and map of United States, thus raising the question on what defines America.  The program’s multiple settings at the Faena district connected both land and sea, and explored Miami as an entry-port to migrants, refugees and tourists. It featured installations and performances of Derrick Adams, Cecilia Bengolea, Wu Tsang and Boychild, among other artists.


A mile away from the Faena district, the Berlin-based artist Tomás Saraceno, in collaboration with Audemars Piguet and Aerocene Foundation, presented “Albedo”. The installation, located on Collin's oceanfront, featured forty inverted umbrellas and reflective structures, which collected solar energy to lift the Aerocene Explorer into the air, as well as producing enough heat to cook at the stations. Daily performances included cooking demonstrations with rotating menus, in addition to solar flights, engaging the audience to imagine a post-fossil fuel era.


Our next stop was RAW POP-UP, which took place at an abandoned 43,000 square foot department store in downtown Miami.  Formerly Burdines, this historic Miami staple was the store of stores back then.  I remember fondly shopping here with my parents as a kid every time we flew into Miami on our family vacation back in the 80s.  This space was intervened by a collective of creators, local and international artists, performers and musicians, with immersive installations, creating an experience of a retail apocalypse dystopia.


We arrived at opening night, and a large queue of people was waiting anxiously to enter.  A saxophone player walked up and down the line enlivening the crowd with jazzy tunes.  The entry to the building was through a loading dock that led to a maze of madness. Every hall as well as office space and fitting rooms had site-specific artworks, engaging the visitors to break the look but do not touch boundaries, crafting a multi-sensory experience. Among them, the installations on several cubicles illustrated the different organized crimes that defined Miami’s iconic era, concurrent with Burdines' heyday.  After being there for over an hour, going in every room we could find, we thought we saw the end of it as we approached the exit door. To our surprise, we were caught up in a salon where a live indie band was playing, fueling another hour of excitement.  We left feeling nostalgic, different and wanting to come back another night.


Just a few blocks away from the abandoned department store, a decadent and outdated underground mall on Flagler Street, characterized by jewelry and perfume shops with a Payless Shoesource store up front, turned into an unconventional art intervention.  As part of the Bodega Run series, Tschabalala Self’s installation "Lee’s Oriental Market" explored how race and ethnicity function in a commercial place. In partnership with this commission, the program included a curated line-up of DJs and performances taking place on the basement of the mall as well as the food court area on the ground level. Concurrently in the same location, Mana Contemporary's resident artists held open studios on the upper floors, inducing a vibrant and eclectic evening for the crowd.


This year Miami’s art scene proved to be thriving with ingenious art installations outside the main fairs.  As the programs during Art Basel Miami get bigger each year, it’s impossible to view everything and be everywhere at the same time. These are some of the highlights of the artworks we viewed this week.



Wu Tsang and Boychild, Love Is A Rebellious Bird 




Faig Ahmed, Siddharta Gautama


Zohra Opoku, Within Us


Levan Mindiashvili, Corroded Scent of Yours.02


Anselm Reyle, Untitled


David Douard, W'


Wolfgang Tillmans, Leonardo


Tomás Saraceno, Theater of Shadows


Paola Pivi, What goes round - art comes round


Robert Gober, Untitled (Detail from 1978 - 2000)


Larry Bell, Time Machines


Claudia Losano, Chico. (Manuel Solano)




Tomás Saraceno, Albedo's installation view 


Installation view of one of the RAW POP-UP rooms


Installation view of one of the RAW POP-UP rooms 


Osiris Cisneros and Olga Más, USDA Choice