The Biscayne Times

Jul 04th
Off the Basel Path 2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Melissa Wallen, BT Contributor; Cover and spread photos by Silvia Ros   
December 2018

Getting weird during Miami Art Week

There is more to Art Week than white cubicles with stuff hanging on the wall. A lot more.

TCOVER_STORY_1_LEAD_SHOThis feature, “Off the Basel Path,” is an annual exaltation of art that reaches beyond white cubicles, crowded walkways, and minimal context. It’s for the adventurer who spurns the idea of VIP lounges, passed champagne, and six- to seven-figure price tags.

If you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume that you expect more. This survey of events, ranging from art exhibitions to film festivals, is exactly that; it offers a sampling of what makes this time of year so special.

This has been a year defined by political turmoil, social division, and investigations into the ethical limits of technology. It has also been a banner year for women and people of color. The following selections are intended to reflect the conditions that precipitate these anxieties and define both our current existence and imagined futures.

Think of “Off the Basel Path” as a much-needed respite.



“We Are All in the Same Boat,” by SUPERFLEX

Over the past two decades, talking about the weather has evolved from small talk to hot topic as conversations about global warming intensify. The international scientific community has offered unequivocal evidence that sea levels are rising, leaving coastal cities like Miami vulnerable to catastrophe. The cost of the devastation wrought by a rising tide would be immeasurable, and unless we can find a solution, Miami could be underwater by the end of the century. To be clear: this means no more art fairs.

Artists and activists are addressing the emerging social, political, economic, and global conditions being accelerated by the effects of climate change. One such group tackling the issue is the Danish artist collective SUPERFLEX, whose newest multimedia exhibition, “We Are All in the Same Boat” at Miami-Dade College’s Museum of Art and Design, aspires to bring the carnage of climate change home to Miami, albeit with a humorously subversive touch.

Using a range of media but with a focus on video, and touching on issues relevant to Miami -- such as water, migration, finance, and climate -- SUPERFLEX’s “We Are All in the Same Boat” hopes to engage viewers and spur conversations around what it means to live in a world of increasing complexity while contending with Mother Nature’s steadily rising temper. One highlight, Flooded McDonald’s (2009), asks us to reflect on the fate of the world’s most famous fast-food chain as it is consumed by water. As chaos slowly ensues over the video’s 20-minute run time, it’s clear that such change is blind to the promise that late-stage capitalism will somehow save us.


“We Are All in the Same Boat,” by SUPERFLEX, through April 21, 2019, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, 1:00 to 6:00 p.m.; Saturday, 1:00 to 8:00 p.m. Museum of Art and Design at MDC Freedom Tower, second floor, 600 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 305-237-7700,



“A Reckoning,” by Judy Chicago

Judy Chicago is having a much-deserved moment. After she was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People of 2018,” it was announced that the pioneering feminist artist would receive a career-spanning survey of work at the new Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. The timing, in conjunction with the resurgence of international interest surrounding her, was auspicious when you consider the current political climate. For example, a record 117 women won their elections across the country in November, all but guaranteeing improved representation in U.S. politics. The social conditions that precipitated this victory for women also highlight why exhibitions like Chicago’s at ICA Miami, aptly titled “A Reckoning,” are crucial.

The presentation highlights her transition from abstraction -- represented by such works as the newly re-fabricated Sunset Squares (1965/2018) and the “Resurrection Triptych” series (1973) -- to more figurative series, including “PowerPlay” (1982-87). Throughout the exhibition, women remain at the center of the conversation, whether it’s celebrating their lives and contributions through history or demonstrating the destructive consequences of the relentless male struggle for power and control.

Brightly colored tapestries depict the pain of giving birth. Test plates from Chicago’s canonical installation, The Dinner Party (once loathed by male art critics and derided as kitsch and now permanently on view at the Brooklyn Museum), feature artistic renderings of the female vulva. These bold images demand your attention and serve as an enduring testament to the power and resilience of the female spirit.


“A Reckoning,” by Judy Chicago, December 4 through April 21, Tuesday through Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., ICA Miami, 61 NE 41st St., Miami,




“Vanguard Concert Series,” featuring SsingSsing

’Tis the season to be creative. The Rhythm Foundation and Emerson Dorsch Gallery are bringing costumed Korean glam rock band SsingSsing to town. On first glance, it’s easy to misread the band’s elaborate drag flair and ’70s rock worship as an irreverent take on Western pop culture, but the production is steeped in the rituals of Korean shamanism.

Expect to hear folk and Shamanic stylings from several provinces of Korea -- Gyeonggi Sori, Seodo Sori, and Seoul Gut -- infused with a quirky pastiche of glam-era rock and roll. Imagine if David Bowie had followed in the footsteps of the Beatles, who famously incorporated elements of Indian raga into their sound after a fateful encounter with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in his north Indian ashram -- but that Bowie found himself in Seoul instead.

Fun and fabulous, yet respectful of their Korean folk roots, SsingSsing is the spiritual rock-and-roll panacea you never knew you needed until art burnout set in. The performance is co-presented by the Rhythm Foundation, Emerson Dorsch Gallery, and the Korean Cultural Center New York as part of KCCNY’s Korean Culture Day 2018 Program, and is supported by the Korean Foundation for International Cultural Exchange.


SsingSsing, presented by the Rhythm Foundation, December 7, doors open at 7:00 p.m. with the performance at 8:00 p.m. Admission is free with RSVP.

Emerson Dorsch Gallery, 5501 NE 2nd Ave., Miami, 305-576-1278,



“Faena Festival: THIS IS NOT AMERICA,” with various artists

The inaugural Faena Festival kicks off this month amid the hotbed of happenings that is Miami Beach. This weeklong engagement aims to expand the scope of Faena Art’s contemporary cultural programming through a platform of newly commissioned installations and performances.

Major installations and performances feature works by a diverse roster of emerging and established talent, including Derrick Adams, Cecilia Bengolea, Isabel Lewis, Luna Paiva, Tavares Strachan, and Wu Tsang and boychild, among others, to be staged on the streets, sidewalks, the beach, and throughout the Faena District.

Faena Art aims to unify cultural movements and break down geopolitical divides. Zoe Lukov, the festival’s curator, brings together a number of perspectives, all pertaining to the great American narrative.

First displayed in Time Square, Alfredo Jaar’s A Logo for America (1987) will be restaged on an LED Jumbrotron-equipped boat moving along the Miami Beach shoreline during the festival. It brings a timely message.

“The U.S. seems to be at war against refugees and immigrants when they have always been part of the origin and fabric of this country,” says Jaar. “The meaning of America has never been challenged in such a shocking way, and so to present A Logo for America in Miami today is for me an extraordinary opportunity to suggest that another America is still possible.”


“Faena Festival: THIS IS NOT AMERICA,” December 3 through 9, free,

at various venues on Miami Beach, 305-534-8800,



“XYZT: Abstract Landscapes,” by Adrien M. & Claire B.

While the ways in which we hope to see the present and future may be hotly contested, there’s no doubt that the tools we implement to reimagine the world and communication are changing. The act of making and experiencing art isn’t immune to evolving and accelerated technologies. Founders of ARTECHOUSE-MIAMI thrive on innovations in virtual reality and digital media, presenting a treasure trove of possibilities for immersive methods of display and compelling multi-sensorial experiences. First opening its doors in Washington, D.C., ARTECHOUSE (Art + Tech + House) champions itself in representing digital artists who explore the possibilities in bridging the divide between fine art, science, and technology.

Orchestrated by acclaimed French contemporary digital artists and multimedia choreographers Adrien M. and Claire B., “XYZT: Abstract Landscapes” is an illuminated series of interactive and curious virtual landscapes constructed from the principles of four dimensions: X (horizontal), Y (vertical), Z (depth), and T (time). Inspired by complexity in natural environments, math and physics models were manipulated into abstract representations of space, delineated by lines, dots, letters, all sensitive to reconfiguration by direct human touch. A compelling display that is not only dizzying in its technicality and immediate illusions, “XYZT: Abstract Landscapes” begs philosophical questions about our seemingly limitless potential and boundaries between the terminals of the body and unseen energies.


“XYZT: Abstract Landscapes,” by Adrien M. and Claire B., December 8 through April 28, 2019, daily, 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., sessions every 60 minutes,

ARTECHOUSE-MIAMI, 736 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, tickets:,



Sand: Amphitheater, Theater, Arena, by Misael Soto

The idea of labor can be unifying and yet hard to quantify, particularly when dealing with issues pertaining to desire, preservation, and connection. Misael Soto, ArtCenter/South Florida’s first Art in Public Life resident, has led a monumental effort in stacking thousands of pounds of sandbags on Miami Beach, forming a Greco-inspired amphitheater and community forum.

Illustrating the fragile landscape of an eroding beach, this form metaphorically and literally created a physical space to foster discussion and creation. Over the course of a month, city officials, historians, artists, architects, activists, musicians, writers, and poets participated in programming that brought numerous perspectives to this mini utopia.

Sand: Amphitheater, Theater, Arena was a happening that struck at the core of the uncanny specificity of Miami, where rich, philosophical, creative, and political complexities meet the ebb and flow of nature, constantly challenging us to preserve, build, learn, and prevail. Sadly, the artist’s mini utopia has been dismantled. Documentary photos are all we have left.


Sand: Amphitheater, Theater, Arena, by Misael Soto; events took place in October and November, 2100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach,


“Pop Minimalism: Minimalist Pop,” with various artists, presented by Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian

Returning once again to the Design District’s Moore Building from New York and Los Angeles, blue-chip art purveyors Larry Gagosian and Jeffrey Deitch join forces for their fourth collaboration, exploring the intersections between Minimalism and Pop Art, in conversation with contemporary artists. Dominating post-war America’s visual culture, both movements responded to the subjective nature of Abstract Expressionism, simplicity of form, and popular imagery to dissolve the hierarchy between “high” and “low” art, defining the aesthetics of a generation.

Placed in conversation with recognizable artists from the 1960s, contemporary artists continue conversations that straddle the ideas and practices of these movements. Experimenting with material, and recontextualizing commercial and popular imagery of the past and current, artists featured in this exhibition include Peter Halley, Jeff Koons, Adam McEwen, Sarah Morris, and Richard Prince, among others.


“Pop Minimalism: Minimalist Pop,” presented by Larry Gagosian and Jeffrey Deitch, December 4, 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.; December 5, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; December 6 and 8, 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; December 9, noon to 6:00 p.m., the

Moore Building, 191 NE 40th St., Miami.



“Purvis Young,” presented by Rubell Family Collection

The late Purvis Young was a unique voice in the Miami arts community. His practice was defined by tireless work in his studio, creating vibrant representations of the people, memories, and experiences in his Overtown neighborhood. A self-taught artist who spent the entirety of his life working in Miami, Young created with urgency, using found objects and materials to evoke universal themes and express stories of resilience and strength. Never one to shy from the profound pain within his community, Young said of his compulsion to work: “When the world quiets down, I’ll quiet down.”

Encompassing the entire first floor of the Rubell Family Collection, Young receives a posthumous survey of more than 100 paintings. His subjects range from pregnant women depicted as angels drenched in the yellow of Van Gogh’s sunflowers to protestors rising up in solidarity. At times these works strike a more somber tone: faces peer from behind bars or are caught in brush strokes of fiery color plagued by uncertainty.

Whether he was representing mothers who left their homes to persevere in the face of poverty, or sons who swam in allegorical shark-infested waters, Young brought them all to life. Their stories live on through the vivid images on display at exhibitions such as this one, and you’d be remiss not to listen to what they have to say.


“Purvis Young,” organized by the Rubell Family Collection, December 5 through June 29, December 3-9, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; regular hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., 95 NW 29th St., Miami, 305-573-6090,



“FREE RANGE MIAMI,” with performances by RaFiA Santana, DJs Loka and Fulathela, co-presented by Fringe Projects, Tschabalala Self, and the Facebook Art Department

Amid the underground malls, jewelry shops, fabric vendors, and perfumeries of downtown Miami, artists have recently found a cornucopia of unconventional space prime for intervention. One such piece of site-specific commissioned public art will be on view through March within a functioning mini-mart, Lee’s Deli & Market (28 SE 1st Ave, Miami). Lee’s Oriental Market is a pop-up by Tschabalala Self that explores the iconic power of “the store,” as well as identity, as exploited through commercialism, and community as it functions within transactional spaces. This pop-up installation, commissioned by Fringe Projects, an organization dedicated to facilitating artists in creating context-specific works, marks the first exhibition in Self’s “Bodega Run Series,” to be presented beyond a traditional institution or gallery setting.

“FREE RANGE MIAMI” is a one-evening event that promises a cathartic and possibly chaotic night of performances by multimedia artist RaFiA Santana, DJs Loka, and Fulathela. It is co-presented with Fringe Projects and Facebook Art Department on the occasion of Self’s exhibition.

In addition, Fringe Projects will organize a walking tour of downtown Miami at 10:00 a.m., December 7, leaving from Tschabalala Self’s pop-up, and continuing to various site-specific installations, including new works by Miami-based artist Antonia Wright and New Mexico-based artist Keith Allyn Spencer.


“FREE RANGE MIAMI,” with performances by RaFiA Santana, DJs Loka, and Fulathela, co-presented by Fringe Projects, Tschabalala Self, and the Facebook Art Department, with support from the actual Lee’s Deli & Market, December 7, 9:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., 777 International Mall, Mana Contemporary Miami, 145 E. Flagler St., Miami, RSVP:



“The Writing on the Wall,” by Hank Willis Thomas and Dr. Baz Dreisinger

It should come as no surprise that the criminal justice crisis is a subject of great concern to many artists, scholars, and activists. One such scholar is Baz Dreisinger of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City and the founding academic director of the school’s Prison-to-College Pipeline. She knows the crisis intimately; she has taught extensively at prisons throughout the world, collecting handwritten and typed materials from the inmates she encountered in the United States, Australia, Brazil, Norway, Uganda, and elsewhere.

At the Frost Art Museum, the exhibit “The Writing on the Wall” is a collaboration between Dreisinger and conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas, and presents those materials -- prison letters, poems, stories, diagrams, and notes -- for public viewing. The exhibition deftly illuminates a soft, restrained humanity while painting a compassionate portrait of individuals within the industrialized prison complexes of the world.

“The Writing on the Wall” is presented in conjunction with For Freedoms, an initiative founded by Thomas and fellow artist Eric Gottesman that advocates for equality and critical dialogue through nonpartisan programming, exhibitions, and public art.


“The Writing on the Wall,” by Hank Willis Thomas and Baz Dreisinger,

through December 9, Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5:00 p.m., Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at FIU, 10975 SW 17th St., Miami, 305-348-2890,



“ALIVE at SATELLITE,” with various artists, curated by Performance Is Alive

Since bursting onto the scene in 2015, SATELLITE Art Show has positioned itself as an “inclusive and unpretentious” outlier art fair. Some might balk at just how unpretentious it gets -- think warehouses with no air conditioning, run-down pharmacies, and an abandoned Art Deco hotel -- but this is the kind of moxie that gives SATELLITE its unassuming strength. It’s a refreshing change from the white-cube art jails that crowd tents and convention centers during Basel.

This year will ostensibly feature more of the same in the best way possible, as SATELLITE expands to a 33,000-square-foot lot across from NADA, at the Ice Palace Studios. Despite the expansion, SATELLITE is still dedicated to presenting works by innovative performance and experiential artists who are asked to reimagine the environments they inhabit, whether it’s a room, a shipping container, the back of a truck, or a less conventional space.

“ALIVE at SATELLITE” is curated by New York artists Performance Is Alive and features a motley yet potent roster, including New Orleans-based dancer and performance artist Dangerous Rose; Awesome Industries, a conceptual startup that addresses the future of work in the digital age; and Miami-based artists Milagros Collective. Credit is due to the curatorial team, which succeeds in either challenging young artists, injecting new life into staid formats, or repelling blue-chip stowaways.


“ALIVE at SATELLITE,” with various artists, curated by Performance Is Alive, December 6, 3:00 to 11:00 p.m.; December 7, 2:00 to 10:00 p.m.; December 8, 3:00 to 11:00 p.m.; December 9, 2:00 to 7:00 p.m., Satellite Art Show, 18 NW 14th St., Miami,


“Arthouse a Go-Go,” at Nite Owl Theater

If the thought of narrowly escaping throngs of tourists rushing between parties for the cold comforts of a movie theater sounds like your idea of a good time, the Nite Owl Theater might sound like a safe bet.

The Nite Owl isn’t your typical movie theater. Buried deep in the Miami Design District, this revival house cinematheque, dedicated to screening predictable cult classics and lesser-known gems on 35mm film, is like a curio cabinet filled with obscure pop culture detritus recovered from a flooded movie theater after Mardi Gras. It might be the most peculiar thing in a city known for being strange, and during Art Week, Nite Owl intends to up the ante with a series of films guaranteed to register with the art-damaged set looking for something a little more avant-freaky.

This year Nite Owl Theater presents “Arthouse a Go-Go,” with films that range from forgotten classics like Brian de Palma’s 1973 thriller Sisters, David Lynch’s Eraserhead and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me to more avant-garde offerings, such as Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Santa Sangre and extreme Australian body-horror trash like Body Melt. Be on the lookout for last-minute announcements and secret screenings -- Nite Owl rewards those who pay attention.

If avoiding Art Basel, its satellite fairs, and crowds is your imperative, then you’re in luck because this is about as far from the Basel path as you can get without skipping town.


“Arthouse a Go-Go” at Nite Owl Theater, December 3 through 10, Nite Owl Theater, 3930 NE 2nd Ave., Suite 201, Miami, 1-833-NITE-OWL,


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