Art Basel in Miami Beach Launches With Public Sector Opening
Curator Nicholas Baume insisted the bodyguards were there to help.
Last night, Art Basel in Miami Beach unveiled its Public sector, an outdoor sculpture garden in Miami Beach’s Collins Park featuring 26 artworks. The opening festivities included food, drink, and four performance art pieces, three of them roving. The sculptures will remain on view through March 2015 as part of “tc: temporary contemporary.”
In his opening remarks, curator Nicholas Baume, of New York’s Public Art Fund, called it “a huge treat” to be down in Miami for a second year at the sector’s helm, telling the crowd that up north, “come December, we don’t like to open public art exhibitions.”
Public’s 2014 theme, Field Work, gets artists out of their studios and away from the white cube of the museum or gallery. As Baume put it, “it’s about taking all that fury you had and seeing how it works in public.”
The curator made no reference to the two hulking bodyguards who stood flanking him throughout the evening, a performance piece from Ryan Gander titled Thank you, but I am promised to the company of my artist this evening during the opening.
When asked if he had helped Gander devise the unorthodox work, Baume demurred: “This was totally his idea!” He insisted the bodyguards were there to help, although artnet News did get physically brushed aside while approaching to get a photograph.
Later, Baume was spotted in the crowd of participants for Christian Falsnaes’s performance piece Front, pulling double duty as a performer. Falsnaes rallied the troops in front of the Bass Museum before leading everyone over to a white plywood wall with the warning that “without you, there will not be any work.”
After signing release forms, volunteers from the crowd took turns spray painting the piece in black, white, and silver—a popular color palette for graffiti artists, according to Falsnaes. The artist’s assistants then began sawing the wall into pieces, which the crowd carried to a frame across the park, and then nailed up in a new arrangement.
The final piece, called Front, will only exist until about 9:00 this evening, when Falsnaes will begin the process all over again. “The wall is just a projection surface for whatever we put down,” he told artnet News, describing his interest in the crowd as a material for his work.
The Shining, a less in-your-face performance piece by Alix Pearlstein, involved a group of actors traversing the park holding what appeared to be LED flashlights. What the artist calls “personal illumination devices,” their purpose was totally unclear. Mystified, artnet News initially suspected they were somehow assisting photographers as night fell in Collins Park. But no, it was just art.
Rounding out the evening’s performances was Liz Glynn and Dawn Kasper’s cosmo[il]logical, a theoretical physics-inspired piece held inside a tent erected in the park’s rotunda.
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