Miami

By Tanguy, Sarah | Sculpture, December 2014 | Go to article overview

Miami


Tanguy, Sarah, Sculpture


Miami Art Fairs 2013

With so many fairs and biennials all over the world, the inevitable question arises: "Why bother?" But the 2013 Miami spectacle proved that it's still possible to have meaningful encounters with art in a restricted space and time frame. As leading collectors vied against each other and top dealers operated in overdrive, pockets of tangible authenticity managed to emerge from the dense maze of noisy booths and outdoor spaces. Even fair organizers have recognized the possible economic damage of ennui by adding curated shows and perimeter booths for emerging galleries and artists. It is often here that the breaks occur.

At Art Basel, tucked away in the NOVA section at Revolver Galería, Peruvian-born Jose Carlos Martinat created an installation of two fake palm trees spewing bits of paper that appealed from afar with its promise of a deserted island in a frothy sea- a clever take, perhaps, on the artificiality of the fair? According to Martinat, the trees, which stood for Cuba and Puerto Rico, were rigged to search Google for the two islands and the U.S. The data was then processed into notes in English and Spanish. Forming a loose mound, the discharged papers spun a seemingly random yet revelatory account of problematic relations. The added bonus: the notes were there for the taking, à la Felix Gonzalez-Torres.

In the main section, the perceptual temperature took a dramatic turn at Kavi Gupka, where a trompe l'oeil snowman, made of glass, resin, brass, enamel paint, polystyrene, stainless steel, and bronze, appeared totally out of place. The work of Tony Tasset, it sported a multi-hued scarf and twig arms, with patches of faux dirt disrupting the purity of the "snow." The forlorn expression, however, said it all, deftly summarizing the plight of the fairgoer: "What am I doing stuck in this claustrophobic nightmare?" Once again, Tasset transformed a vernacular icon into a self-described "Pop-conceptual" mash-up of the American Dream.

At Victoria Miro, Elmgreen & Drag - set upended another childhood memory with Powerless Structures, Fig. 101 (2013), an all-bling variation on their monumental 2012 Fourth Plinth commission. Here, a life-size, 24-carat-gold-plated bronze boy on a rocking horse brought their critique of the triumphant general to an imagined domestic setting. Devoid of any real context other than the fair, the child's expression of frozen glee became a mask of arrested development. Spoofing the poor little rich boy, who, marginalized by wealth, must play alone, the ensemble cleverly extended the artists' use of excess to pierce what they define as the "New Boring."

A bundle of turquoise and yellow ropes cascading from a bulbous, jellyfish- like creature at ONE AND J. Gallery enlivened the Positions section of Art Basel. Korean-born Auck lander Seung Yul Oh has already gained welldeserved notice for his multifaceted, humorous practice in a variety of media and his open-ended, playful approach. To make the works in this solo presentation, he improvised with materials brought from New Zealand and locally bought mops, transforming a mundane object into a supersize monument to itself, at once irrational and otherworldly.

Michelle Lopez's glistening Blue Angel II was the stand-out of the Public section in Collins Park. Curated by Nicholas Baume, the 24-artist exhibition loosely gathered sculptures around the theme of "Social Animals." The only work made on site, Lopez's crumpled, 20-foot sheet of aluminum clung tenuously to a wall of the Bass Museum of Art. Folded and held together by hundreds of rivets, the work conjured the fatal crash of the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy's performing team, in 2007, as well as 9/11 and other tragedies. Its play with light, along with the pattern of rivets and red banding, lent a minimal, abstract quality reminiscent of John Chamberlain.

At Untitled, the curatorial collective Present Company showed Janelle Iglesias's Miro-esque Constellation, a provocative take on recycling. …

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