• Overheard in Miami

    Date posted: December 12, 2007 Author: jolanta
    “How much longer do I have to pretend to be interested in this?”
    —15 year old at Art Positions

    “If you come to Miami to buy art, you’d think you’d get a call girl, and not a Collins Avenue lady of the night.’”

    “Have you been to the bathroom at the Deuce? It’s the new Dash Snow piece.”
    —The consensus of everyone at the Deuce Club on Sunday


    By Thomas Seely 



    “How much longer do I have to pretend to be interested in this?”
     -15 year old at Art Positions

    “If you come to Miami to buy art, you’d think you’d get a call girl, and not a Collins Avenue ‘lady of the night.’”

    “Have you been to the bathroom at the Deuce? It’s the new Dash Snow piece.”
    -The consensus of everyone at the Deuce Club on Sunday

    Bill and I woke up today and had breakfast at a place that served us eggs and cold potatoes. We ate amid the endless thumping of  dance music. One thing about Miami: dance music, everywhere. It’s as ubiquitous as roaches in New York, and is inexplicably piped into whatever environment you encounter no matter how inappropriate or obnoxious. Here, it’s part of nature. So as we sipped cold American coffee and tried to jump-start our brains, the restaurant vibrated with the thump of Saturday night in da club. It wasn’t even noon yet.

    We fled to the beach…

    On Sundays in Miami the beach is, understandably, a rug of flesh and sand. Who wants to watch the Dolphins lose again when you could go outside by the water and watch the skin parade. I spent a good amount of my beach time gawking at three glistening dudes doing one-handed pull ups and stalking around the sand.

    As we lay on the sand, Bill said, “Do you remember the other day when you asked me if there was any piece at the fairs I expected to see but didn’t?”
        “Well, I think I got it.”
        “A sand castle!” He pointed about ten feet away to a crude sandcastle some kid had built. It was half corroded, lopsided and crawling with bugs, but still a serious little sand castle. For a second I was in awe. Of all the art that we saw in Miami, after picking out trend after trend, seeing the laundry list of exhausted formal conventions,  and clichés of clichés of clichés, we hadn’t seen any sand castles. Given the unfathomable amount of work in Miami, someone should have—logically, or just based on statistical probability–built a fucking sand castle! It’s the simplest most obvious idea, yet nobody came through*. I saw a painting of Larry Bird, no sand castle. The best part was that if you squinted a bit, the sandcastle looked like the Miami convention center slowly getting blown away down the beach. For this reason, the sandcastle is near the top of my list of favorite artworks at the fair. As a symbolic gesture of appreciation, I’m buying it with the remaining budget from the JPEG Collection.  It is probably the most expensive sand castle anyone has ever pretended to buy. Maybe next year, when there are 40 fairs, I can put my sand castle into a booth at Basel where it belongs.

    Here’s the rest of the news for the last day in Miami:

    Art Haus

    I went down to Art Haus to see the Bruce High Quality Foundation piece Arthur Kills Again. Unfortunately they took it down the night before. So, when I showed up I found myself staring into an empty swimming pool in back of a condo next to a plastic deer with a tiki mask glued to it’s head, and having one of those “is this art or not?” moments.
     I found myself having a lot of those on the last day of art fair hopping. I’m talking about that moment when you come across a piece of cardboard with a skull on it leaning against an overturned shopping cart, and you think to yourself: “what’s that sculpture from NADA doing out here on the side walk.” And then you realize…“Ohhhhh…. it’s just garbage.” That moment led me to the following thought:

    100 (ish) years ago, the realization that anything can be art was amazingly liberating. Today, it seems to have become rather oppressive. A lot of work we saw screams, “I dare you to say this isn’t art.” Well, maybe everything doesn’t have to be art to be beautiful, intellectual or important. David Robbins said it best: “Let’s not be afraid to make something that’s isn’t art.” Something to think about…

    ArtHaus turned out to be a well needed breath of fresh air. Each room was treated more like a gallery than a booth, so I was compelled to spend a little time with each piece. There were a lot of videos, which seemed to be in low supply at the other fairs.  ArtHaus was set up so that if you wanted to watch a video you didn’t have to compete with the hum of a huge crowd, a complaint I heard from several people about the bigger fairs. I included videos from ArtHaus by Christopher Draeger and Daniel Joseph Martinez in the JPEG Collection.

    Art Positions/The Containers


    The containers were a joke. Sorry, but it seems like the Art Positions organizers put more thought into the food service area than they put into this waste of space. With only a few exceptions, each gallery ignored the fact that they were designing a show for a shipping container, and simply went about hiding the containers’ interior surfaces under white dry wall and florescent lighting. They even put these hideous frosted plastic doors on the front of each one, just like the facades of so many spaces in Chelsea. The containers themselves seemed like a pretentious gimmick to squeeze in some galleries that didn’t fit at Basel. I expected to find the shipping containers scattered across the beach like driftwood, beached whales, or debris washed in from a shipwreck. Anything that would have allowed the containers to interact with the natural elements of Miami Beach, or simply addressed the space of the container, would have been an improvement. Instead, visiting Art Positions made me feel like a detainee doing a gallery crawl through a trailer park.

    Art Supernova @ Basel

    I’m always suspicious of advertising statements like “With Real Cheese!”, “Big Value”, or even “Fresh Vegetables.” In a country that communicates through market researched rhetorical acrobatics, words like “real” “value” and “fresh” are most often used to describe things that, in actuality, have none of those qualities. This kind of logic is implemented to sell the public on everything from Kraft singles (“Made With REAL CHEESE”), to educational policy, (“No Child Left Behind”).  Communicating like this makes it almost impossible to trust anything anyone says, ever.

    With this in mind, you can see why something claiming to be an “Art Supernova” might raise a few eyebrows. To the brand savvy consumer this claim is fishy at best. But, like all good consumers, we eventually broke down.  In the face of all logic and reason, Bill and I headed down the grey tunnel at Basel to check out “Art Supernova.”Christopher_Draeger.jpg

    I’m not sure what I expected an “Art Supernova” to look like, but I did not expect a hodgepodge pseudo group show, with a giant storage locker piled with bubble wrapped paintings as it’s centerpiece. In relation to Basel, I heard Art Supernova described quite accurately as,  “The Kids Table.”

    In all fairness, we were pretty much beat at that point. Anything short of astonishing wasn’t going to get much attention. Another thing that I have to acknowledge is that, going into Basel, I had heard so much groaning about it that I found myself operating in “bad until proven otherwise” mode.

    *There was an installation at ArtHaus that involved sand, and a few pieces at Art Supernova, but there was no sandcastle piece.

    JPEG Collection–Day Five
    (Purchases from ArtHaus and the beach)

    Total Spent Today: $798,500
    Total Spent: $1,000,000
    Remaining Funds: $0

    Christopher Draeger

    For months if not years I’ve been thinking to myself, “Someone really needs to do something cool with that Modern Lovers song ‘Pablo Picasso.’” I even put it on the “art playlist” on my iPod (it also included Songs for Drella and the Bowie song ‘Andy Warhol’). When I saw this video I was ecstatic. It’s essentially a music video for the Modern Lovers song in which the artists runs around wearing a giant paper maché Picasso head, and trying to pick up girls. Hysterical.

    Daniel Joseph Martinez
    Hollow Men

    This video is funny, and unbelievably disturbing. The video depicts a pair of cartoon monster hands flipping through a flipbook that shows a clash between riot police and protesters. The audio is simply Marlon Brando’s “Hollow Man” monologue from Apocalypse Now.

    Unknown Artist
    Untitled (Sand Castle)

    The one piece that should have been in the fairs, but wasn’t.

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