Revisiting Miami Art Week 2016
Earlier this month, visual arts editor Nina Wexelblatt traveled to Miami to experience Miami Art Week, one of the country's biggest arts festivals. Here is a look at some of her favorite discoveries at Art Basel and more.
My flight from Chicago to Miami touched down in the dark, and the long week of art ahead seemed like an impossible hurdle. But first thing in the morning, I found myself outside the Bass Museum, where a public art collection took full advantage of the Miami sunshine. I was greeted by Ugo Rondinone's fluorescent Miami Mountain (2016), whose playful adaptation of the tradition of land art rhymed nicely with the tropical vibe of the city.
I wasn't outside for long. Slipping in the Art Basel entrance, Sam Durant's End White Supremacy (2008) at Blum & Poe smacked me dead-on. This powerful piece alongside brand new election-themed newspaper works by Rirkrit Tiravanija and Jonathan Horowitz's photograph of Trump teeing off into a hellish sky full of flames evidenced galleries' scramble to engage with life outside the Miami Convention Center—lest they be seen golfing while the world burns.
Elsewhere in the fair, I was delighted by subtle gestures. Mexico City's joségarcía brought works by Mario García Torres, whose Museo de Arte Sacramento is an imaginary roving museum of objects from the state of Coahuila, Mexico. These hundreds of unique bronze baubles are each cast individually from the shells of snails that settle in the trees of Coahuila. They are meant to be held and rearranged, and were surprisingly heavy.
I was starstruck by the presence of Betye Saar herself at the Roberts & Tilton booth in the fair’s historical “Survey” section, where her beguiling and esoteric assemblages were on display. The centerpiece was MTI (1973), an altar of sorts chock full of Voodoo symbols. Visitors were invited to leave an offering at its base, which quickly filled up with doodles, candies, and even a lone Pokémon card.
After hours of wandering, I hopped across the street to Design Miami, a small but glamorous fair of furniture, jewelry, and interior design. Amidst expensive lamps and dramatically lit desks were these joyously un-slick ceramics by Takuro Kuwata. To make them, goopy layers of confectionary glaze intentionally explode in the kiln, giving the drooping mugs and fractured vases their cartoonish character.
A few Uber fiascoes later, I made it all the way north up Collins Avenue to NADA, a fair for emerging galleries with a bent toward colorful and often figurative work by young artists. At Los Angeles' Night Gallery, a lush stained glass screen by Samara Golden was lit up by Mira Dancy's sultry neon dancers. Surrounded by women artists exploring female psychology and sexuality, I happily overheard only one man complaining it was "pornographic."
Another NADA treat was the booth of Tokyo-based gallery KAYOKOYUKI. Yohei Imamura's tsurugi No. 1 (2016) is a scale model of Japan's Mt. Tsurugi that may look like it was made by a 3D printer, but is actually a sculptural screen print laboriously made from over 200 layers of ink. In another deceptive move, the material isn't white; it only looks like that through seemingly alchemical juxtapositions of red and blue.
Leaving NADA, I crossed the bridge into Miami proper. Refreshingly, nothing was for sale inside the Herzog & de Meuron-designed Pérez Art Museum Miami. Their presentation of Julio le Parc, I was shocked to find, was the pioneering Argentinian artist’s first major solo exhibition in North America. The show was a nearly unphotographable funhouse of kinetic sculptures of all kinds: interactive games, rotating mirrors, trick sunglasses, and other tricks of the light.
My final stop was the Rubell Family Collection. I couldn't help thinking about a line from Ingo Niermann's dispatch from Art Basel last year: "While the female half of this collector couple rather tries to resemble an artwork—colorful and ageless—the male part rather imitates the appearance of money with monochrome (preferably dark blue) suits." Passing right by Frank Benson's Juliana (2014-2015), this man didn't need a suit to head straight for the money. Progressive art and conspicuous cash: a fitting end to my time in Miami.