Swarms of well dressed casuals descended as local collectors opened their houses to the privileged-public; an invitation was still required. With an abundance to digest, all one could go with in terms of judgement was immediate reaction.
Cuban-born Felix Gonzalez-Torres ’ pile of old fashioned sweets sat in the corner playfully and referenced the hosts' alleged currency as collectors. The title of his most recent retrospective exhibition, Specific Objects without Specific Form (2010), exemplifies the ambiguity and abstract element of his work, a quality which summised the often minimalistic 70's art. Referencing a historically important and groundbreaking idea: Subject before Matter and Object without Form.
Some readings of the artist's work suggests a strong influence of his experience with AIDS and he is subsequently said to reference death through his work; often using lightbulbs and other elements that diminish like the piles of sweets in a room. Viewers can take away with them parts of his installation, stacks of paper with poetic messages, or hard-candy. Even after his premature death in 1996 he continues to connect with his audience. His work remains light and optimistic, though once discovered, with an underlying sadness.
Nathalie Djuberg, Badain, 2005 (video installation)
Natalie Djuberg, Badain, 2005 (still)
Matthew Day Jackson had some strong work.
|Matthew Day Jackson, Return to Heaven, 2009|
|Matthew Day Jackson, 2010|
Designers pay the price for subsidsation. A great installation none the less and one which matched their Mount Street window display. A cynical sign of the art world selling out and answering to larger market-leaders and a more developed art-business, or, a demonsration of the success of the art world, validated by the appearance by the famous fashion house? Who gets there first- the designers or the buyers?
Bentleys hosted a boring party- the highlight being sitting in a stationary car. Party wise, the problem here lay that in order to go to as many as possible and stay on schedule there wasn't time to finish a drink at one, leaving one remarkably sober and proficient. Judgement was sharp. The night scene did deliver and the parties were wonderful- art did not stop and was a part of everything. Damien Hirsts 2 metres wide and a wall of Kenny Scharf in the hotel lobby, it was very Miami- big, bold and wonderfully tacky at times. Hummers and horses, rivers of vodka.
|Tobias Madison, Against Nature, 2010|
|Huan Yong Ping, Well, 2007|
|Huang Jong Ping, Well, 2007|
Outside, Jennifer Rubell served her signature porridge breakfast, titled Just Right, in a cottage installation down the garden path- adding to the surreal and experiential element of the week. Art is about performance and happenings. Guests were invited to enter through a small concrete hole in the wall and enter a series of rooms where they could help themselves to over sized pots of porridge and various toppings. Simon de Pury had this at his wedding some weeks prior. Meanwhile, at the main Rubell house Nobu were making packed lunches. Mrs Rubell, Mera, added to the theatrical element by wearing her signature vibrant purple wig. Mr Rubell was less friendly; saying it was a pleasure to meet him he abruptly asked why. My response was measured against his art and contribution.
The De La Cruz collection was housed in an architecturally striking building and a visual gold mine. Ugo Rondinone's colourful windows were tantilizing and memorable. Rondinone likes to play with doors, hide and seek; delivering an entrance but refraining from permitting it. A black door in a corner of a room, a window without a view. The curator explained, 'Clockwork for Oracles asks us to slow down and contemplate the nature of time, while inviting us to enjoy its playful sensory delight' .
|Ugo Rondinone, Clockwork for Oracles, 2008|
|David Altmejd, The Shepherd, 2008|
This huge sculpture is both monumental and in a state of decay, a graondoise is countered by a volitile gesture. A mythical creature embezzled with mirrors and micro constructions. As with Rondinone's mirrored windows which reveal and distort the passing audience, the question of self and the universal obsession with identity construction is evoked and broken in Altmejd's work.
|Peter Doig, Rainbow Wheel, 1999|
The Design Fair this year was cleverly placed next to the main convention centre (previously it had been in a different district hindering its accessibility) and to my fortune I met the very handsome Konstantin Grcic, ‘Designer of the Year’ who was being interviewed outside on his comfortable hammocks. Inside, there were some beautiful designs and as this exemplified this industry is increasingly considered closer to art than craft. Check out the Carpenters Workshop gallery.
Art Basel Miami was spectacular. I'd never seen anything like it- the execution, the quality, the standard, the vastness: it was
A pile of Ai Weiwei ’s sunflower seeds had made their way from
|Ai Weiwei & Robert Rauschenberg|
|Antoni Tapies, Three Brushes, 2008|
|Jan Fabre, Tribute to Belgian Congo, 2010|
Man Ray's sculpture of hangers turns the banal into something peculiar and wonderful. Re-presenting the ready made and challenging the narrowed & bored minds of his audience.
|Tabaimo, Tawamushi, 2008|
At Chantal Crousel gallery’s stand, The Camel’s Humps and the Ironing Board by Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla a title that sounds like a fable, indicative of an exotic animal being ironed by a larger power. A human control issue and impossibility at the hands of nature.
Isaac Julien's exhibition and video installation Ten Thousand Waves at the Bass Museum of Art was an hour, nine-screen installation, captivating and referencing various stories of ancient native Chinese travellers, mediating unfinished journeys which end in death. Narrating, is a transient watcher and female muse. The artist’s core inspiration was the high profile tragedy that made the tabloids in which a group of Chinese illegal immigrants drowned working in
There was so much missed but this will always be the case. If one word counted it’d have to be consumption: without any negative connotations; ABM was rapid, inspiring, growing, indigestible, insatiable.
Miami Basel 2011, 1st-4th December. Go to the W, the Setai, the Delano, Shore Club.