Art in Miami: Art Basel Miami Beach

Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB) didn’t open to the public until Thursday, Dec. 6 but on Wednesday at 10:30 am there was a press conference and reception (champagne but no coffee), and at noon the press and Very Important People were allowed into the exhibition. The Not-So-Very Important People attended the preview at 5; the rest of the world had to wait until Thursday. When the exhibition doors opened it was a bit like the start of the New York City Marathon, with a similar jockeying for position; I had no idea how many press and VIPs there would be. Or how lacking in manners.

VALIE EXPORT detail of Glottis, a multi-screen video projection (2007), copyright VALIE EXPORT

The galleries at the center of the ABMB exhibition hall are so thoroughly vetted that they hold relatively few surprises; it’s a bit like going to a museum. Still, it’s useful if you don’t regularly get to museums in Antwerp , São Paulo, or Seoul. I decided to concentrate on the art arranged around the periphery, under the heading Art Nova (new work). New work didn’t necessarily mean work by new or unknown artists: the first booth that caught my eye was Gasser and Grunert (Vienna) which had two video installations by VALIE EXPORT. Glottis, the multi-screen piece, was a repeated view down her throat as she talked; her dealer explained that EXPORT’s interest in sound was that it was both external to the body and internally-produced.


cover of >Al Taylor Drawings (Hatje Cantz, 2006)

Another senior figure (deceased, in fact) was the American, Al Taylor, whose work has been shown more widely in Europe than here. Borch Jensen (Copenhagen) exhibited map-like drawings based on dog markings in Taylor’s Paris neighborhood (similar to the one illustrated on the book cover, above), while Zwirner and Wirth (New York) showed abstract constructions of painted wood as well as related drawings.

Dan Perjovschi working on his Project at MoMA; photo Robin Holland, New York Times


Other work that attracted me were:

exquisite small-scale drawings by Dan Perjovschi at Lombard Fried (New York); the ones I particularly liked were much more controlled than the graffitti-like work he created on the wall at MoMA earlier this year (above); I also saw the catalogue to the current exhibition of Dan and Lia Perjovschi at Duke’s Nasher Museum

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Cecily Brown at work, photo courtesy Two Palms Press


luscious color monotypes by Cecily Brown at Two Palms (New York)

Can Sayinli and Jørgen Evil Ekvoll War silk carpet, 150 x 200 cm. ; photo courtesy Galerist, copyright the artists

Chahar Aymaq Taimani Pictograph (Baluch type); image courtesy
Chahar Aymaq Taimani Pictograph (Baluch type); image courtesy

War rug by Can Sayinli and Jørgen Evil Ekvoll at Galerist (Istanbul); the Turkish Saylini and Norwegian Ekvoll collaborate on work in a variety of media; the carpet, with grenades and other instruments of war laid out in a traditional decorative pattern, was woven to their design by rugmakers in Hereke, and struck me as the high-art version of the war carpets designed and produced by tribal women in Afghanistan which feature tanks (example above), kalishnikov rifles, helicopters, etc.

Xu Zhen’s Shanghai ART SUPERMARKET; photo courtesy ShanghART

Xu Zhen’s Shanghai ART SUPERMARKET at ShanghART; the dealer explained that XU usually sells franchises for his version of a Chinese convenience store, where all the goods are the packaging of the usual products, minus their contents (the artist will supply new stock, as needed). For ABMB, instead, he was offering the store’s merchandise (e.g. the empty packaging) for sale at the prices of their usual contents (in yuan), complete with plastic bags labeled ShanghART ART SUPERMARKET. Most ABMB visitors didn’t seem to realize that the supermarket was actually functioning . I couldn’t resist Zu’s take both on globalization and on commodifycation within the artworld, and brought home a Coke can (Olympics edition), a box for Colgate toothpaste and the wrappers for M&Ms and Doublemint gum (all the Chinese versions).


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