Art Basel Miami Beach and Associated Art in Miami

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This was the fifth time I’d gone to ABMB (Art Basel Miami Beach) and the multi-ring circus that includes the peripheral art fairs, local museums, collectors who run private museum spaces, temporary public projects and various lectures, performances, film showings and parties. I decided to take it easy and be guided by the interests of several friends who were also in Miami for the events, spending two days with tv news producer, Jake Haselkorn, who’s spent the past 20 years covering Asia and my good friend, Berta Sichel, Director of the Film Department at the Reina Sophia Museum, Madrid, as well as meeting up with  Artblog’s Roberta and Libby for a day. The following are random snapshots rather than any attempt at a synthesis.

Fashion at the Cisneros Foundation brunch
at the Cisneros Foundation brunch

 Berta Sichel , Reina Sophia curator at C.I.F.O.
Berta Sichel, Reina Sophia curator who organized C.I.F.O. exhibition

Berta had curated the exhibition, Being in the World; Selections from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection at C.I.F.O (the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation), one of Miami’s private museums. The exhibition explores video work by Bill Viola, Shirin Neshat, Chantal Ackerman and four other artists or artist collaborations.

Sharin Neshat  still from 'Zarin'   video
Sharin Neshat still from 'Zarin' (2005) video

The selection investigated the work against the background of Jean-Paul Sartre’s idea of  situation as a way of exploring both the literal and metaphorical displacement  accompanying current globalization and the previous cultural habits and experiences that migrants inevitably bring to new circumstances.

Robin Rhode, detail, ‘Marongrong’ 2002 digital animation
Robin Rhode, detail, ‘Marongrong’ 2002 digital animation

CIFO hosted a brunch which was notable not only for the food and elegant floral decorations set within tents outside the exhibition space, but also for the amazing range of footwear worn by the female guests. I wasn’t in Kansas or Philadelphia anymore!

flowers at the Cisneros Foundation brunch
flowers at the Cisneros Foundation brunch
More fashion at the Cisneros brunch at the Cisneros brunch

Ackerman’s D’est: au board de la fiction was the highlight of the artwork on view, a piece that doesn’t loose its power no matter how many times I see it.  It was the first time I’d seen Neshat’s  powerfully-wrenching short piece,  Zarin (2005), a straight-forward single-channel narrative in color. I can only assume it presages her approach to film in the feature-length Women Without Men for which Neshat won the Best Director award at this year’s Venice Film Festival.

 Susan Sterling, Director, National Museum of Women in the Arts
Susan Sterling, Director, National Museum of Women in the Arts

I caught up with Susan Sterling, Director of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. who was escorting members of her Director’s Circle around C.I.F.O.’s exhibition. Susan and I co-curated an exhibition of Carrie Mae Weems’ work in the early 1990s, and later in the day I ran into Carrie herself.  That was a great reunion.  Carrie has been making videos, one of which, exploring her long interest in male/female relations,was prominently on view at Photo Miami .

at the Cisneros Foundation brunch
at the Cisneros Foundation brunch

The other private museum I saw was the Margulies Collection at The Warehouse . Miami’s private museums surely represent  more square footage devoted to contemporary art than in any city in the world, and none is more impressive than the collection put together by real estate developer, Martin Z. Margulies.

 Roberta Fallon, Martin Z. Margulies, Libby Rosof
Roberta Fallon, Martin Z. Margulies, Libby Rosof at Margulies' Warehouse

I’d known Marty and his curator, Katherine Hinds since 1984 and was delighted to introduce them to Roberta and Libby. The collection’s recent acquisitions emphasize video and photography (Penn photography students curated an exhibition from the collection which was reviewed here)  although there was also sculpture by younger artists as well as a major installation by Michael Heizer and significant work by George Segal, Miro and Noguchi.

at Margulies Warehouse l. to r.: Los Carpenteros, Shinique Smith, Sara Barker, Florian Baudrexel, Robin Rhode
at Margulies Warehouse l. to r.: Los Carpenteros, Shinique Smith, Sara Barker, Florian Baudrexel, Robin Rhode

Unlike most of Miami’s other private collections as well as most public museums these days, in the U.S. and Europe, Margulies’ collection goes beyond the handful of artists who are the current fashion; this not only gives it a personal stamp, but also means that even seasoned art professionals are certain to be introduced to new artists.  I certainly saw artists I didn’t know. One area was installed around urbanistic themes: Anri Sala’s video, Dammi I Colori (2003) which pans the newly polychrome housing in Tirana; Courtney Smith’s Paraparquetry (2007) which employs re-used wood from old furniture to create a multi-dimensional parquet floor that resembles a cityscape;

Courtney Smith’ 'Paraparquetry' (2007)
Courtney Smith’ 'Paraparquetry' (2007) at Margulies' Warehouse

and Peter Belyi’s Danger Zone (2007), a model of a distopian city of the future whose failed modernist towers have crumbled to rubble. Belyi is a sort of Piranesi of the 21st century, creating a sci fi romanticism of ruins.

Peter Belyi 'Danger Zone' (2007) at Margulies' Warehouse
Peter Belyi 'Danger Zone' (2007) at Margulies' Warehouse
Tags

anri sala, being in the world, berta sichel, bill viola, carrie mae weems, chantal ackerman, cifo, cisneros fontanels art foundation, courtney smith, florian baudrexel, george segal, isamu noguchi, jean-paul sartre, juan miro, libby rosof, los carpenteros, margulies collection at the warehouse, martin z margulies, michael heizer, national museum of women in the arts, peter belyi, roberta fallon, robin rhode, sara barker, shinique smith, shirin neshat, susan sterling

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