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As you must have noticed through your Instagram feed, Miami is the place to be right now. And the main reason is that there are more than five international art fairs going on at the same time. But the one that’s generated this whirlwind of never-ending activities is Art Basel Miami Beach, which reaches its sixteenth edition this year. The most popular gathering of artists, curators, gallerists, dealers, collectors – and basically everyone trying to succeed in the art world – starts officially today and will go on until Sunday with a full program of events, from talks to studio visits, to after parties and exhibitions throughout the entire city.

The Miami Beach Convention Center, the venue hosting the massive art fair, has been under renovation for the past months and will now present its improved installations, making the sixteenth edition of Art Basel Miami Beach the biggest one to date. Greater booths and wider aisles will welcome collectors and curious visitors alike browsing around the proposals of the more than two hundred and fifty galleries coming from thirty-two different countries worldwide.

There’s always a great expectation for this fair, as well as some troubling questions: has it become a circus? Is the ‘overpopulation’ and increasing number of visitors doing a favour to it? Is the presence of celebrities making it less serious? Is the hype worth it? Will the bubble explode? For the moment, it doesn’t seem like so, as the program of Art Basel Miami Beach doesn’t cease to grow. And to make it easier for you, we’ve selected the top ten things you can’t miss.

Conversations: Digital Museums and Virtual Audiences

On Friday the 8th of December, the morning starts at 10 am with a very interesting conversation titled Digital Museums and Virtual Audiences. András Szantó, an author and cultural strategy consultant based in New York, will be moderating four key figures in the adoption of digital innovation in art institutions. Alberto Ibargüen – President and CEO of John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (Miami) –, Shannon Darrough – Director of Digital Media at The Museum of Modern Art (New York) –, Rachel Rossin – New York-based artist –, and Joel Kremmer – Director of the Kremer Collection and Co-Founder of the Kremer Museum (Amsterdam) will discuss how interactive gallery displays, social media platforms, searchable databases and virtual reality apps are re-shaping artistic and cultural landmarks. The digital era has been with us for some time now and will keep increasing at an unstoppable pace. In this panel, the four experts will discuss how museums, galleries and artists can embrace the change to engage with audiences both online and offline. 

Film: Screening of Boom For Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat


Also on Friday the 8th of December, but at 8.30pm at the Colony Theatre, Art Basel’s film curator, Marian Masone, has programmed a special screening of this seventy-nine-minute piece documenting the early teenage years of Jean-Michel Basquiat. The film, directed by Sara Driver, shows the life of a homeless Basquiat living in New York City before becoming a superstar and features interviews with artists and musicians who got to know him personally.


Jibade-Khalil Huffman

The African-American multidisciplinary artist and poet is participating in different programs of the fair. On the one hand, the gallery Anat Ebgi will present within Positions program a major project by Huffman, which focuses on the black male figure in art history, film, and literature. On the other hand, some of his audio-visual pieces – GIF, First Person Shooter and Figuration (A) – will be screened as part of the Film Program today Thursday the 7th of December, and they pay homage to African-American popular culture by mixing photography, vintage television and computer animation.


Public: Les Guirlandes (1982 – 2017) by Daniel Buren

The French artist needs no presentation: he’s the author of the iconic black and white columns located at Palais-Royal and of the multi-coloured glass ceilings of Fondation Louis Vuitton. For this edition of the art fair, Buren has restaged Les Guirlandes, an installation he first presented at Documenta 7 back in 1982. The piece, now located at Collins Park with the other eleven site-specific works curated by Philipp Kaiser – debuting this year as curator of the Public sector –, is composed of decorative striped flag garlands strung across the park from palm trees and of loudspeakers playing musical samples from operas to ragtime melodies, and its aim is to criticise the emergence of nationalism.

Public: Domestic Violence: Matriz Nula (2017) by Manuela Viera-Gallo

The New York-based Chilean artist expects to raise awareness on the topic of domestic violence. And our era demands it: the artist’s country passed a bill to legalize abortion in some cases this past summer, and she lives in a country whose president is a shameless sexist. To contribute to the fight for women’s rights, Viera-Gallo presents an artwork as part of the Public sector that embodies the fears, pains and experiences of women who survived domestic abuse. An arrange of broken ceramic, dishes and cups form the installation that looks dangerous because of its pointed and sharp elements as well as silent and inert because of its final composition.

Trance (2017) by Hans Berg


The Swedish artist and music producer is at the forefront of the underground in Berlin, although his live sets are praised in cities all over the world. Berg is capable of making enthralling club music blending house and techno that hypnotizes the audience wherever he goes, but he also creates atmospheric sounds to accompany video art and installations – especially for his long-term collaborator Nathalie Djurberg. In Miami, he’s presenting a new immersive sound work titled Trance, which will be presented on the state-of-the-art surround sound system in SoundScape Park prior to the Film program each evening. Industrial noises, synthesizer rhythms and rainforest sounds are only some of the elements composing the piece.

Kabinett: Andrew Kreps Gallery

The Kabinett sector is a program that allows participating galleries to present a curated show in a space differentiated from its booth. The New York-based gallery Andrew Kreps will present the work of activist and feminist artist Andrea Bowers, whose works have been striking the audience for more than a decade. His most recent series of pieces to date included large-scale feminist posters and cardboards, but for this edition of the fair, she’s done smaller drawings that contain the same denunciative tone and messages.

Kabinett: Galerie Urs Meile


Another unmissable exhibition is the one presenting the work of Cheng Ran. The Chinese artist is one of the most emerging talents, having already exhibited at Palais de Tokyo (París), Museo Reina Sofía (Madrid), and The New Museum (New York). Ran works within film and new media, and he usually explores topics such as mystery and unsolved questions, identity, or death. For the fair, the gallery presents the piece DD-MM-YYYY (2017), the latest chapter of the ongoing project Diary of a Madman presented at The New Museum’s lobby last year. The work focuses on three cities – Hong Kong, Jerusalem and New York – and creates unique narratives through re-edited video collages. 

Survey: Galeria Jaqueline Martins

Another video artist you can’t miss is the one presented by Sao Paulo-based Galeria Jacqueline Martins. Inside the Survey program, which presents artworks created prior to 2000, the Brazilian gallery showcases the pieces of a true female pioneer: Letícia Parente. She’s the author of an iconic piece titled Marca registrada, in which she sews or stitches the word ‘Brasil’ in on of her feet. Parente, being a female artist and not coming from a western country, is still a rather unknown figure among many art insiders, but she’s definitely a one you should start researching about.

Nova: Dépandance

The Brussels-based gallery participates for the first time in Art Basel Miami Beach, but its bet is strong and very contemporary. It’s presenting new pieces by Ed Atkins, a British artist who works both in film, drawing, painting and sculpture, and who’s held exhibitions around the world including Amsterdam, Paris, and Berlin.
Art Basel Miami Beach will take place from Thursday 7 to Sunday 10 December at The Miami Beach Convention Center, 900 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, as well as in other locations. To see the full program, visit its webpage.

Texto
Arnau Salvadó

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