By Wendy Windercal Dec 18, 2019


Maurizio Cattelan, Comedian


It’s that time of the year again, when people from all over the world flock to the Sunshine State to assist the biggest art spectacle. Art Basel returned to Miami Beach for its 18th edition and will forever be remembered for the ongoing saga originated by Maurizio Cattelan’s duck-taped banana on the wall artwork that sold for $120,000.


The infamous banana was the most provocative and talked about piece during art week, unleashing a social media frenzy. Memes of the banana exploded with countless mocked versions. The plot thickened when a visitor of the fair, Georgian native and New York based artist David Datuna, pulled the banana from the wall and ate it without permission from the gallery as part of his stunt as well as performance piece Hungry Artist. The artwork was restored with a new banana and was taped back on the wall. Ultimately, it was removed from the wall on the last day of the fair as visitors became frantic in the booth area while taking pictures, causing safety concerns for the surrounding artwork. However, the pandemonium did not end there. Hours later the same wall was vandalized by another visitor who wrote with red lipstick "Epstien (sic) didn’t kill himself" referring to the death of the disgraced multimillionaire convicted sex offender.


Meanwhile, one floor above the banana hysteria, the 18th edition celebrated the launch of Meridians, a new sector of the fair. With the recent renovations and expansion of the Convention Center, the highly anticipated new Grand Ballroom was dedicated to large-scale works. Thirty-four monumental projects including sculptures, video, performance art and installations were showcased in this new platform.


Besides the Meridians debut, two new spaces opened during Art Basel week: the new Rubell Museum and El Espacio 23, both located in Allapattah. Situated in close proximity to Wynwood, Design District and the Miami River, this neighborhood is mainly characterized by its numerous warehouses facilities and a prominent Dominican community; thus, flourishing into a new emerging cultural and art hub in Miami.


The Rubell Family Collection, which was previously in the Wynwood area, is now the new Rubell Museum located in Allapattah. Shifting their collection from a 45,000 square-foot repurposed Drug Enforcement Agency impoundment facility; the Rubell’s have rebranded and upgraded the size of their space to 100,000 square-foot campus. The collection includes renowned artists such as Cindy Sherman, Elizabeth Peyton, Richard Prince, Candy Noland, Sterling Ruby and more.


A few blocks away on the west side, the real estate mogul, art collector and major patron of Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), Jorge Perez, opened his new private museum El Espacio 23. The opening exhibition Time for Change: Art and Social Unrest in the Jorge M. Perez Collection explores the conflicts and contradictions of contemporary society with emphasis on marginalized societies, political unrest and state terror. The 28,000 square-foot warehouse includes artworks from Ai Wei Wei, Alfredo Jaar, Ana Mendieta, and Rashid Johnson, among others.


Heading southeast of Allapattah, the historical Flagler Street in downtown Miami has become an ideal site for art collectives. The area’s closed business spaces were intervened with experimental projects, pop ups and site-specific installations. VOID projects presented a cohesive program with powerful and stirring artworks at a former Payless Shoe store. The Homeless exhibition central theme was the concept of home from a political, social and personal viewpoint based on cultural heritage, identity and patriotism. Across the street, an intervention of what seemed to be a former travel agency became a storefront installation selling tickets to heaven.


A few blocks away, the curatorial collective GOOD TO KNOW presented the exhibition WE BUY GOLD with site-specific installations on the corridors of the jewelry district. Taking place in a semi-abandoned mall, the artworks were displayed between mom and pops jewelry stores, pawn shops and gem dealers. One of the site-specific installations were bags of dirt located around the hall inviting the public to dig through the dirt in search of a gold nugget valued at approximately $2000. Through this practice, it examined society’s greed at the cost of preserving our natural resources.


This year’s remarkable programs, exhibitions, fairs and public installations were around Miami Beach, Allapattah, and downtown Miami. Waking up to chilly mornings and starting off early, we’ve rounded up the best artworks we got to see during Miami Art Week.


Francesco Vezzoli, Ilona Staller, Il Proibizionismo


Paul McCarthy, Dead Andy and Nancy


David Hammons, African American Flag


Hernan Bas, a zombie and a flaming volcano


Hernan Bas, The Florida Screen


Sarah Lucas, How Was It For You? 


Raymond Pettibon, Selected works 2018-2019


Deana Lawson, House of My Deceased Lover


Ron Terada, You Have Left the American Sector


Pepe Mar, Varla TV


Leandro Elrich, Order of Importance


Elmgreen & Dragset, Bent Pool


Harry Nuriev, Balenciaga Sofa


Kueng Caputo, Roman Molds for Fendi


John Miller, A Refusal to Accept Limits


Sterling Ruby, Flag


Anselm Kiefer, The Ways of Worldy Wisdom


Sarah Palmer, Incredible Laughter. Sarah Palmer, That Which is and That Which Was. Sarah Palmer, Forgotten Night (False/Faithless)


Kara Walker, Securing a Motherland Should Have Been Sufficient


Ana Mendieta, Untitled (Glass on Body Imprints)


VOID Projects 


L.E.O., Stranger 3


Pablo Valbuena, Wave from Øbskur magazine on Vimeo.


Images © Obskur magazine