Courtesy Art Basel
Every December, Art Basel Miami and the hundreds of satellite events can be equally illuminating and frustrating. There are many ways to skin an art fair—and in this post, New Museum’s Gary Carrion-Murayari, Curator, and Karen Wong, Deputy Director, share some highlights.
A forty-eight hour visit to Miami is an arduous and less-than-productive proposition—a few hours at the main fair, a few hours at NADA, a few meetings, a couple of dinners, and back on the plane. My memories of the fairs are, therefore, unavoidably hazy and the familiar inevitably wins out over the new. The main fair had a number of engaging works by established as well as emerging artists—paintings by Laura Owens at Gavin Brown’s enterprise and sculptures by Andra Ursuta at Ramiken Crucible stood out in particular—while both the Art NOVA and Art Positions had work by young international galleries that made them both worth the visit. But NADA probably had my favorite piece: an upside-down witch’s mask smoking a cigarette on top of a green violin by Danny McDonald, an artist whose work I’m often drawn to because of his humorous use of materials that irreverently depict contemporary society.
“Architecture for Dogs” curated by MUJI’s art director Kenya Hara left me bewildered. Are dogs a man’s best friend? Yes. If there is one place to exhibit the designs of thirteen world-renowned architects and designers (including SANAA, Toyo Ito, MVRDV), the Miami Design District would be a first choice. Is Sou Fujimoto’s doghouse cum shelving and storage unit a bit of genius? Absolutely. And all the blueprints can be downloaded for free? You betcha.
In post-earthquake/tsunami Japan (March 2011), a country still reeling from the devastation, maybe design levity is good. But I can’t help wondering—in gathering such tremendous talent, could the resources to develop animated construction drawings on a robust website have been put to better use? Temporary shelter? Emergency lighting? Infrastructure redevelopment/reconstruction? These blueprints would make a real difference.