Art Basel in Miami Beach Reveals the Artists for Its Public Sector

Performance art will mark the opening festivities.

Sterling Ruby, Big Yellow Mama, (2013) Photo: courtesy Gagosian Gallery.
Hank Willis Thomas sitting in one of his sculptures in the Public Art Fund's "The Truth Is I See You." Photo: Hank Willis Thomas, via Instagram.

Hank Willis Thomas sitting in one of his sculptures in the Public Art Fund’s “The Truth Is I See You.”
Photo: Hank Willis Thomas, via Instagram.

Art Basel in Miami Beach may mean an absurd amount of parties and maze-like expanse of gallery booths in an overwhelming convention center, but art can also be experienced in the wild during the fair—or at least at Collins Park. On December 2, a night of performances and the unveiling of 27 large-scale public artworks will mark the opening of the fair’s Public sector, curated by Nicholas Baume, director and chief curator of New York’s Public Art Fund.

Located just outside the Bass Museum, the outdoor exhibition will feature works from both emerging and established artists, from Katharina Grosse to Athena Papadopoulos (named one of artnet News’s exceptional millennial artists to watch).

This year, Baume’s theme is “Metaforms,” which is meant to explore the process of transformation that makes the creation of art possible. The show examines the ways in which artists take familiar objects and symbols and imbue them with new meanings, uncovering important truths about our world.

“The idea of Metaforms captures the way many works of art draw on the familiar forms of everyday life and through manipulations of scale, material, texture, and content become something else,” explained Baume in an e-mail to artnet News. “That resulting work of art manages to evoke the form at its source while adding new layers of formal complexity and meaning.”

Some works will be participatory, like Sam Falls’s Healing Pavilion, a communal seating area encrusted with amethyst, lapis lazuli, and other gems and minerals thought to have healing powers. Hank Willis Thomas is also offering seating, in the form of one of the speech bubble benches from his “The Truth Is I See You” series.

Sterling Ruby, <em>Big Yellow Mama</em>, (2013) Photo: courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

Sterling Ruby, Big Yellow Mama, (2013)
Photo: courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

Other highlights will include I Can Not Take It Anymore, oversize steel heads from Olaf Breuning; Sterling Ruby’s Big Yellow Mama, the artist’s take on Alabama’s electric chair; and Marianne Vitale’s Ace of Spades, a nearly-30-foot-long sculpture made of 60 tons of steel scrap material the artist salvaged from a track yard facility in Pennsylvania.

After furnishing Baume with a pair of intimidating bodyguards at last year’s opening for Thank you, but I am promised to the company of my artist this evening during the opening, Ryan Gander will return with a new performance during the 2015 opening. The press release describes his piece as a “dandy hobo” who will engage in scripted conversations with visitors to the opening. Titled Ernest Hawker, the performance, commissioned for Performa 15, is meant to represent a future version of the artist.

Matthias Bitzer, Sleep and echo (2012), at Art Basel in Miami Beach's Public sector. Photo: Sarah Cascone.

Matthias Bitzer, Sleep and echo (2012), at Art Basel in Miami Beach’s Public sector.
Photo: Sarah Cascone.

There will also be performances from Xavier Cha, who is juxtaposing the athletic routines of a female tai chi master over those of male bodybuilders; William Pope.L, who is enlisting four large men to skateboard on their stomachs and sing “America the Beautiful”; and Yan Xing, who is outfitting a group of young men in Chinese silks and instructing them to flirt with fair-goers.

As in years past, Public will outlive the week-long Art Basel festivities as “tc: temporary contemporary,” the Bass Museum’s public art program, and will remain on view through February 1, 2016.

The 2015 Public artworks are:

Olaf Breuning, I Can Not Take It Anymore, 2015, Metro Pictures

James Capper, Mountaineer Prototype, 2015, Paul Kasmin Gallery

Tony Cragg, Mixed Feelings, 2012, Marian Goodman Gallery

Melvin Edwards, Ukpo.Edo, 1993/1996, Alexander Gray Associates, Stephen Friedman Gallery

Sam Falls, Untitled (Healing pavilion…), 2015, Galerie Eva Presenhuber

Sylvie Fleury, Eternity Now, 2015, Bass Museum of Art

Katharina Grosse, Untitled, 2012, König Galerie, Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder

Matt Johnson, Twisted Jersey Barrier, 2015, 303 Gallery, Blum & Poe

Jacob Kassay, Untitled, 2012-2015, 303 Gallery

Kris Martin, Altar, 2014, Sies + Höke

Rubén Ortiz Torres, Collector’s Backyard Boogie, 2015, OMR

Athena Papadopoulos, Two Serious(ly) (young) Women, (Hubba Hubba Trouba and Ouchy Waa Waa Mama’), 2015, Supportico Lopez

Ishmael Randall-Weeks, Paraíso, 2015, Revolver Galería

Sterling Ruby, Big Yellow Mama, 2013, and Lips, 2014, Gagosian Gallery

Michael Sailstorfer, Voilà (Dubai) 1, 2011, and Voilà (Dubai) 3, 2011, König Galerie

Tomás Saraceno, One Module Cloud with Interior Net, 2015, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

Tony Tasset, Deer, 2015, Kavi Gupta

Rirkrit Tiravanija, untitled 2015 (don’t shoot the messenger), 2015, Gavin Brown’s enterprise

Francisco Ugarte, Sunlight I, 2015, Arredondo\Arozarena

Timm Ulrichs, Von null bis unendlich (from here to eternity), 1986, Wentrup

Marianne Vitale, Ace of Spades, 2015, Contemporary Fine Arts

Ursula von Rydingsvard, Bent Lace, 2014, Galerie Lelong

Hank Willis Thomas, Ernest and Ruth, 2015, Jack Shainman Gallery

Robert Wilson, Einstein Chair, from Einstein on the Beach, 1976 (produced 2002), Paula Cooper Gallery

Yan Xing, L’amour l’après-midi, 2015, Galerie Urs Meile

Xiao Yu, Elevation No.2, 2013, Beijing Art Now Gallery

Public opening night performances:

Xavier Cha, supreme ultimate exercise, 2015, 47 Canal

Ryan Gander, Ernest Hawker, 2015, Lisson Gallery (A Performa commission curated by Mark Beasley for Performa 15)

Pope.L, The Beautiful, 2015, Mitchell-Innes & Nash

Yan Xing, L’amour l’après-midi, 2015, Galerie Urs Meile

Art Basel in Miami Beach’s Public sector will open Wednesday, December 2, 7:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. 

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