|View from SCOPE Pavillion, South Beach, Miami|
I am sure everyone has a story or two to tell about Art Miami, but for me, the big event was the coming together of the Artslant team, some of whom I had only ever met on skype, others of whom I only see once a year. People would ask us, “so where are you based?” And in keeping with Georgia’s legacy, a woman who stuttered and stumbled when asked “where is home?,” Artslant has no geographical home. We exist on the web for 360 days of the year, and take up residence in Miami for the other 5 days.
|There were a lot of this vein of sculpture: |
figures climbing walls
CONTEXT Pavilion, Miami Beach
During the day, the Artslant team tended to arrive on mass, four or five of us, with our Editor in Chief, Natalie, making sure we were all given VIP treatment. This translates to Natalie ensuring that we all got entry to the different fairs. As was to be expected, in each of the fairs, there were usually one or two artists, sometimes only one or two artworks, worth looking at. Museum pieces sat on the same walls as trash, vintage Robert Indiana pieces next to works by unknown artists. Art Miami is art on sale, not so different from a car show, glistening brand new, with gallerists trying to get the attention of those wandering through, to convince us to buy works we would otherwise probably walk straight past, in any other context.
|Denny Gallery Booth, Art Miami|
That said, when I could drag myself away from the sight of the ocean outside the marquee, I made some exciting discoveries. Jason Gringler’s big American and male canvases covered with shattered, broken, fragmented materials were stunning. In fact, all the work at New York’s Denny Gallery was strong, and Gringler’s aggressive, but subtly crafted “paintings” that were more like collages, stood out for their complexity. David Burdeny’s long exposure photographs of cities, iconic visions made strange and unusual, given luminosity and a simultaneous haze descending over skylines we might know, sites we have seen many times before. Thanks to Burdeny's technique cities suddenly become strange and somewhere we haven’t been before. New York, London, Venice, Paris, all are in the distance, with skylines that look more like horizons than an urban metropolis. This is in keeping with the landscapes, made abstract and unusual, again distinctive but unrecognizeable.
|David Burdeny, San Marco Dawn, Venice, Italy, 2012|
Another set of works that stood out for me were the haunting, to the point of being devastating, wintery visions of Claudia Melli, exhibited by the H.A.P. Galeria in Rio de Janeiro. Again, all the images in this stand were provocative, with Melli’s standing out. We stood a couple of feet away from the images, identifying them as photographs, discussing how haunted they were, how eerie and unsettling. A child’s swing with the seat broken, the chain blowing in the wind, the only background being a dark sky filled with looming clouds. Standing before the images, we can feel the cold of the world shown in a realist image. And then, the man from H.A.P. Galeria told us we were looking at drawings made with Chinese ink. With this information, it was impossible to see them as anything other than drawings, but until we were given it, there was no question they were photographs. What makes the works even more haunting is that they were hung in a series, across images there is no respite from the emptiness, desolation, coldness and trauma even that is suggested in their content, a suggestion echoed by the grey material of ink on paper.
|Claudia Melli, A Capella, 2011|
After hours, aside from the art and the Artslant union, my first and lasting impression of the who’s who of Miami, and the who’s who of the contemporary art world were the heels. Never have I seen so many women in heels so high that they were unable to walk. It is easily possible that I do not move in the right circles to appreciate the latest fashion, and it is even more possible that the translation from catwalk to sidewalk is very different in Paris. Nevertheless, I have never seen heels so high and so impractical in such numbers. Women strut around the streets of Miami, are seen in the places to be and hobble from art venue to art venue on 13’ heels that look to have been bought especially for the occasion. As a heel wearer, I know from experience that the height of the heel always becomes comfortable, in time. But judging from the tottering between the car service and the bar, from one gallery to the next, most of the heels in Miami were a one time affair. Indeed, they belonged to a world as different from mine as the meaning of art in Miami.