Miami Art Week 2016 was a whirlwind of events, performances, art fairs, exhibitions, and pop-up installations around the city. With art fair connoisseur Cathy Byrd by my side, I began exploring the contemporary art that was sweeping through Miami. Our first adventure was Tide by Side, a colorful processional performance celebrating the new Faena Art District on Miami Beach where we watched an array of colorful performers enacting both exuberant and spiritual rituals inspired by Miami’s cultural history. Miles away, at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens on Biscayne Bay, Mira Lehr’s and Yara Travieso’s What This Place Does Not Remember interwove ancient Greek mythology with the wild side of the estate in a marvelous operatic performance.
Opening day was the most intense. First, we attended the press preview inside the Miami Beach Convention Center where renovations had been halted to welcome Art Basel Miami Beach. Presenters gave the international art fair credit for igniting an ever growing number of participating galleries and satellite fairs and for stimulating new art ventures in Miami. Walking through the fair, we were met with the hustle and bustle of people experiencing and explaining artworks, an exotic fairgoer wearing an extravagant headdress and a glittering gown that trailed behind him on the floor (turns out this was the flamboyant British artist Daniel Lismore), a man with a tie that defied gravity, and a lot of highly political art.
Sam Durant‘s End White Supremacy was one sign of the times that caught our attention and made others stop, reflect and take photos. Dating from 2008, the work feels all too relevant in today’s world. There was comic relief in the Swiss museum Fondation Beyeler‘s collaboration with Italian artists Maurizio Cattelan‘s and Pierpaolo Ferrari’s Toilet Paper. In their faux apartment, it was impossible not to love the riotous wallpapers, the pink urinal and the massive amount of spaghetti that spilled into the space from every angle and opening.
With no time to waste, we headed to Untitled, Art fair to present Fresh Art International‘s first live broadcast in the Untitled, radio program via Wynwood Radio. Our 5-day series would feature conversations with artists, curators, and critics about art and art fairs, the recent U.S. presidential election, biennials, books and what roles artists might play on the global stage. While inside this tent, I acquired a cool t-shirt designed by Rirkrit Tirivanija and Tomas Vu and printed on the spot.
Next was a film screening at Miami Beach Cinematheque that I’d been eagerly awaiting. In The F-Word, filmmaker Robert Adanto explores the work of fourth-wave feminist artists and the motivation for their use of the body as canvas and commentary. The photography of Leah Schrager on display in the lobby highlighted the film’s argument regarding female empowerment in a set of nude self-portraits.
Two hours later and ten blocks north at the Art Basel’s Public Sector opening in Collins Park, Naama Tsabar‘s Composition 18 invited visitors to immerse themselves in overlapping waves of music played by women musicians perched on their amplifiers. The evening added up to a stunning experience, when you count the grilled veggie burger offered to me hot off an ad-hoc grill under the hood of a white limousine parked in the grass and the wild disco party hosted by Lady Bunny inside the park’s rotunda.
For me, the glowing finale was on my drive home that night, when I spotted Yvette Mattern‘s Global Rainbow radiating through the sky all the way from the Design District.
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Contributed by Evelyne Zapata, with Cathy Byrd, for Fresh Art International.