For the second day of our coverage of Art Basel Miami Beach, Paris, LA visited the Pulse and NADA independent art fairs, the Rubell Family Collection, Hans Ulrich Obrist’s “Instagram as an Artistic Medium” panel, and Ryan McNamara’s MEEM 4 Miami: A Story Ballet About the Internet.
But first, let’s rewind a bit: not content to remain a daytime affair, the cultural events and opening parties during steamy South Beach’s Basel week stretch late into the night. And last night, after a visit to the Untitled. fair, Paris, LA visited the opening party for Peter Marino at the Bass Art Museum. The storied architect of contemporary Gucci and Louis Vuitton branches around the world donated his extensive collection of blue chip contemporary art, including several especially commissioned Damien Hirsts, for the show. The galleries were awash with especially salable black paintings, gold-lacquered skulls, and morbid readymades, like a gas mask case. Most press cited the show as proof of Art Basel’s pop apotheosis, though that was confirmed further by the Jeffrey Deitch-hosted Miley Cyrus concert later in the night.
In the lobby level of the Bass was Gold, a flashy show that encapsulated the ostentatious displays of wealth at Art Basel. Although the curatorial text hinted that the present artworks’ use of gold was intended to be critical, it wasn’t clear of what. Instead, visitors saw two rooms of shiny things–reinforcing the commodity status of the art object, in the midst of a large commercial art fair.
Outside the museum, in Collins Park, a public sculpture display and performance featured a Lynda Benglis fountain and a fascinating Alfredo Jaar piece with revolving speaker heads speaking in a robotic drone. Visitors lined up to stand inside Truth, and others spraypainted, carved up, and reassembled a wooden wall in a participatory piece by Christian Falsnaes (a work whose best aspect was also its worst: the utter inconsequence of its ultimate form). Finally, the night ended at the Artsy Dance Party, hosted by Carter Cleveland and Wendi Murdoch at the historic Moore building in honor of Chinese painter Shen Wei, which featured a performance by rapper Theophilius London.
Thursday: there was little sleep do be had before Paris, LA was back at it again, this time perusing some of Miami’s many independent art fairs. The morning began (with strong Cuban coffee in hand) at Pulse, on the shorts of Indian Creek Park. There Danziger Gallery exhibited contemporary Dutch portraits by Hendrik Kerstens, using plastic bags and hand towels as traditional Flemish headwear. Unique at Pulse was an African presence, with photographs by Pieter Hugo, Malick Sidibé, and others.
Elizabeth Leach Gallery of Portland exhibited drawings and wall sculptures made of tessellated paperback book scraps by Ann Hamilton. Nearby, Leslie Heller Workspace of New York gave a solo presentation of Lothar Osterburg, who makes photogravures of miniature models of mid-20th century New York City.
Greg Kucera Gallery from Seattle exhibited work by Los Angeles-based artist Chris Engman, who photographs sculptures and installations to suggest intense depth in a truly stunning tromp l’oeil trick.
Next Paris, LA travelled north to NADA, the New Art Dealers Alliance. Just within the hall entrance, London-based Jonathan Viner’s booth impressed with works by Amir Nikravan (who recently closed a show at VSF Los Angeles), Nicholas Deshayes, and Pentti Monkkonen.
Nextdoor, New York’s Lisa Cooley displayed work by Andy Coolquitt and others. Los Angeles-based François Ghebaly Gallery’s booth featured a graph-paper drawing by Channa Horowitz and a photograph by Charlie White. London’s Ibid Projects exhibited new paintings by Jack Conway, whose work is also currently on display at their L.A. branch. Featuring flying bill notes and sacks of gold, Conway ironically captured the high-octane spending at Art Basel, much more effectively than the Bass Museum’s gaudy exhibition.
Other striking booths at NADA including Night Gallery of Los Angeles, Frutta of Rome, and Tomorrow of New York, with its rainbow resin ant farm.
After a quick break to feel the soft sand and warm seawater outside NADA at the Deauville Beach Resort, Paris, LA headed to the mainland neighborhood of Wynwood to see the Rubell Family Collection.
Founded by hoteliers Donald and Mera Rubell, the collection features a laundry list of influential American and British artists–primarily from the 1980s–housed in the former DEA headquarters of “Miami Vice” fame, where confiscated cocaine and Kalashnikovs were stored. The galleries were full of works by Richard Prince, Robert Longo, Jeff Koons, Jason Rhoades, Glenn Ligon, and Charles Ray.
The lobby featured a new commission by Kaari Upson: a silicone and spandex mattress cast over a fiberglass frame, caked in sooty black charcoal dust.
After a quick bite near the Keith Haring-decorated Wynwood Walls, Paris, LA headed back to Art Basel for “Instagram As an Artistic Medium”, a Digital Talk panel discussion featuring curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, artist Amalia Ulman, collector Simon de Pury, MoMA PS1 Director Klaus Biesenbach, and Instagram founder Kevin Systrom, moderated by ForYourArt founder Bettina Korek. After discussing each of their projects and how they involve Instagram, the panelists wondered how the format of a social media platform may be similar or different from past art.
Biesenbach cited On Kawara and Yoko Ono as two artists who predicted the seriality and repetition of Twitter and Instagram, and said that Instagramming his bedroom window every day had seriously affected his sense of time and change. Korek argued that Instagram shouldn’t count as “art” because it isn’t trying to be art at all, but rather a kind of filtered documentation. Finally, the panelists wrapped up with a brief argument over the nature of authenticity: while Systrom stated that the freedom to choose a subject and frame it makes Instagram an authentic platform, Ulman wondered aloud whether preselected screens or filters subvert this presumed authenticity.
Finally, after a brief break for drinks at Disaronno’s party at the Art Deco Gale Hotel, Paris, LA attended Ryan McNamara’s MEEM 4 Miami: A Story Ballet about the Internet, commissioned by Performa. There were truly no bad seats in the house as audience members were carted around by trained workers to various parts of the theater (and even a secret back room), where dancers performed for groups of 10-20 people at a time individually, in pairs, or triplets.
Once the audience had fragmented, perspectives shifted constantly. It was difficult to determine when one’s seat position would change, as the lifts always picked up the theater’s chairs from behind. In all, the dancers performed feverishly for over an hour, ending in the balcony as the music collapsed into itself, with a disjointed mashup of pop hits.
Stay tuned tomorrow for Day 3 of Art Basel Miami Beach.