Studio Lenca, Ni de aquí ni de allá
Art Basel Miami Beach returned for its 20th edition. Once again, art collectors, celebrities, artists, art enthusiasts, and fashion victims, peregrinate to the Magic City for an extravagant time. The jam-packed week included black tie private events, artist-hosted dinners, blockchain parties, intimate performances from award-winning musicians, and booze-fueled receptions. Furthermore, intended for a clientele on the go looking to enhance their beauty and wellness between art fairs, injection filler sites as well as morning beachside yoga to detox the body from the night before were available at Scope. The extensive programming throughout the week catered to everyone’s needs and interests. The overlapping events across Miami, not to mention getting stuck in the causeway traffic hell, certainly narrowed our choices. Nevertheless, we have rounded up the prominent works and events we attended.
We kicked off Art Basel week with a cocktail reception at Mr. C’s hotel rooftop in Coconut Grove. Hosted by Mexico City-based gallery JO-HS, it presented a curated concept “A Surrealist Stay”. Works from Celeste, Ramiro Gonzalez Luna, and Demit Omphroy were showcased throughout the hotel, which include a mix of ceramics, sculptures, and installations. This unique approach, celebrated the 1930’s historic auberge La Colombe d’Or in south of France; artists from all over the world would leave a work of art in exchange for a stay.
At Art Basel, the operating “Casino” by Belgian artist Guillaume Bijl at the Meredith Rosen Gallery’s booth, was the best artwork we viewed at the fair. As part of the Survey sector, dedicated to historical works produced before year 2000, his 1984 casino installation was restaged. Actors were employed pretending to be croupiers serving at the blackjack and roulette tables on the opening day; the lighting and carpet were meticulously recreated, and the Dutch old-master paintings hanging on the walls were printed from Wikipedia. At the original opening of “Casino” in 1984, the controversial installation was raided by the police thinking it was operating without a license, and that real money was being gambled. This artwork invites the guests to join the game. In doing so, the guests play a role as performers as well.
Within walking distance from the fair, an immersive art-meets-blockchain technology beachside experience awaited us. Surface and Polygon joined forces and hosted a three-day workshop at a pop-up bungalow at the W hotel in South Beach. The funky, multistoried space featured an art gallery with salon-style panels that hosted discussions focused on Web3 programming and the technological advances in art, fashion, communities, and sustainability. Visitors were free to wander around the rooms and view the immersive installations by MokiBaby, OffLimits, Spatial Labs, LNQ, Prism Collective, and Worthlessstudios.
Concurrently, on the other side of town, The Gateway: A Web3 Metropolis returned for its second year. While the city of Miami was in the process of removing the FXT name from its arena after the fall of the disgraced Sam Bankman-Fried, just a few blocks down, the blockchain, the NFT, and the digital art enthusiasts congregated. During this five-day production, the streets of Flager District turned into an audiovisual gallery; panel seminars from industry leaders as well as activations took place across twelve historic buildings. Presented by NFT Now and Mana Common, together with MoonPay, this immersive experience intertwined art, music, gaming, tech, fashion, and culture. Contrary to the current turbulent times of the crypto trading, this edition was better organized, more interactive and animated than the previous year.
The influence of Web3 technologies on artworks was noticeable throughout the week. Indeed, the best public art we viewed outside the fair was Ares House at The Row exhibition. The real-life digital space experience was designed by the international acclaimed artist Daniel Arsham in collaboration with Mona, Future Galerie, Jayaram, and Everyrealm. This architectural project interlaced the physical with the digital world seamlessly through a 3D projection mapping. It also featured a kaleidoscope room with works from various artists such as Misha Kahn, Andrés Reisinger, Alexis Christodoulou, Six N. Five, Hard, and HAZE, whom showcased architectural landscapes with no physical limitations. Entering this IRL realm was stepping into Daniel Arsham’s futuristic civilization; his metaverse landmark included the artist’s design furniture pieces and sculptural works.
Later that evening we headed to Prada Extends at the Faena Forum. Curated by DJ Richie Hawtin aka Plastikman, this multisensory music project bridged techno with the new music genres from the latin music community, including DJ Ela Minus, Sofia Gabanna, and Slim Soledad. This invite-only party rave was attended by fine-looking guests wearing a classic vintage or a current garment from Prada’s collection as an homage to the label.
The final leg of our Art Basel circuit was the CryptoPunk #305 unveiling party at the ICA in Design District. The performance that stole the night was Tara Long aka POORGRRRL, a Miami based artist, rapper and curator. Her act was a biting satire of the glitzy glamour scene that took over this week. She came out on stage wearing a trash bag dress, cigarette buds sticking out of her tangled hair, and a banana in her hand. Her “fuck it” poise in the scenario along with her awkward bass noise music style set off into an experimental journey; she performed a distorted loop of Garbage’s vocals “I’m only happy when it rains”.
Donzii, a post-punk industrial band from Miami, collaborated in her musical voyage. They popped up with helmets and on their bicycles, which seemed like they detoured from an evening cycling ride and landed at the ICA by accident. One of their bicycles was spinning upside down in the middle of the audience as though it was being tuned-up with rare objects, thus leaving everyone baffled. The unorthodox performance left the audience highly intrigued and wanting to see more of this bizarre spectacle. At the end of the night, we asked the crew and some of the band members about the artist on stage; their response was clueless which added more mystery to this performance. Soon after, Pussy Riot, the controversial Russian band and headlining gig of the evening took the stage.
Overall, this Art Basel was different than previous years in the wake of the emerging technologies shaping new works of art. Since the pandemic, there has been a shift to a virtual realm presence and the phygitalization of art. The metaverse universe is an unchartered territory, yet it has allowed artists to expand their creative process through this media. Certainly, this digital platform is bringing the art world to new heights.
Zora J Murff, Post No Bills
Zora J Murff, Woah Nigga, Die Slow Nigga (Cooning)
Juan Uribe works at SGR Galeria's booth at UNTITLED
Various artists at Km 0.2 booth at UNTITLED
Tschabalala Self various works at Pilar Corrias' booth at Art Basel
Raymond Pettibon at Regen Projects' booth at Art Basel
Sadle Barnette, Brothers (left), Photo Bar (center), Fancy (right)
H.R. Giger, Biomechanoid
Daniel Arsham, Amalgamized Tête de l'Hermes d'Olympie
Wolfgang Tillmans, Faltenwurf Prinzessinnenstrasse / Pines
Tom Sachs, Federal Express
Rirkrit Tiravanija, Untitled 2022 (free everything)
Jonas Wood, 4 Seasons
Scott Lyall, Talent 31
Pia Camil, BRAGUETA XL No. 2 (with piercing)
Ryan Gander, I be... (xlix)
Anthony Akinbola, White Bronco
Zilla Leutenegger, Broken Kitchen
Giulio Paolini, Fuori quadro
Bárbara Sánchez - Kane, dryclean usa
Hernan Bas, Conceptual Artist #14 (A formerly-sanctioned exorcist, he spends his weekends performing final rites at poorly reviewed exhibitions)
David Hockney, Bruno Mars
Objects of Common Interest, Chronos at Design Miami
Harry Nuriev, The Trash Bag Sofa at Design Miami
Pussy Riot at ICA
Photography and video by Pietro Cammareri
© Obskur magazine