The Company That Owns Pulse Is Shuttering the 15-Year-Old Art Fair and Replacing It With a Miami Edition of Volta

The new edition of Volta will touch down at Mana Wynwood this December.

Ramsay Fair is launching VOLTA Miami as a replacement for PULSE Miami Beach. Photo courtesy of Ramsay Fairs.
Ramsay Fairs is launching Volta Miami as a replacement for Pulse Miami Beach. Photo courtesy of Ramsay Fairs.

At a time when the future of art fairs is increasingly uncertain, Volta, which launched in Basel in 2005 and has held a New York event since 2008, is expanding to Miami this December.

“Volta is already included in two of the biggest art fair weeks in the world with New York and Basel. Miami was just a logical step,” fair director Kamiar Maleki told Artnet News. “It will take time to develop, but I believe we can have a strong foothold in Miami.”

The new event will join a crowded Florida fair calendar; Miami typically hosts some 25 fairs during the first week in December. Volta will replace of the long-running Pulse Miami Beach, which staged its 15th and final edition in 2019. The two fairs have been under the same ownership since October, when Ramsay Fairs, which also operates the Affordable Art Fair, purchased Volta from Merchandise Mart Properties Inc.

The sale followed the last-minute cancellation of Volta’s New York edition in 2019, which had been set to take place at Pier 90. The event was unceremoniously booted from the venue by its sister fair, the Armory Show, when the inspectors ruled that the adjacent Pier 92 was structurally unsound. That left Volta exhibitors scrambling to find a home during the busy art week, with displaced dealers turning up at other Armory satellite fairs or the scrappy Plan B popup staged at David Zwirner.

Kamiar Maleki was named in new director of VOLTA in November 2019.

Kamiar Maleki was named the new director of VOLTA in November 2019. Photo courtesy of Ramsay Fairs.

This March, Volta New York returned in a new venue under new leadership, with founding director Amanda Coulson turning over the reins to Maleki, the former head of the Contemporary Istanbul art fair. (Coulson remains involved in Volta in an advisory capacity.)

Since then, the company has decided to cancel Pulse. “We realized it was probably better to concentrate on one brand and making that brand great again,” Maleki explained. “We decided to focus our attention on a Volta rebrand. We knew we could draw upon Pulse’s robust exhibitor history and collector base and match that with Volta’s international foundation.”

Offering both solo and group presentations, Volta Miami will be held at Mana Wynwood, near Art Miami, rather than in Miami Beach, where Pulse took place. Despite the change, “we will keep Pulse’s spirit alive within our fair,” said Maleki, adding that Volta is considering introducing a new version of the Pulse Prize, for the best solo booth, in the future.

With summer art fairs cancelled across the board, and fall fairs in jeopardy—if they haven’t been cancelled already—even December is starting to look optimistic for the return of large-scale public events. But Maleki is hopeful.

“It’s important to give people a sense of normality, like the opportunity to visit an art fair,” he said, “as long as it’s safe and we can do it the way that the government has stipulated.” Volta hopes to stage its Miami event even if the week’s biggest event, Art Basel Miami Beach, cancels its December 2020 fair.

“Our fairs have always been about discovery and trying to engage with the community,” Maleki said. “With or without Art Basel, we would go ahead and create something that would be for the local people.”


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