It’s not just the beachfront location that makes UNTITLED one of the most well-liked Miami satellite fairs, though the sun and sand certainly don’t hurt. But for true art lovers, it’s the mixture of strong but lesser-known art spaces from around the world that lends the fair its sense of adventure. An impromptu performance, like the one by Anastasia Ax of SIC Helsinki at last night’s vernissage also helps. Though the evening’s host was art star Ryan McGinley, who had a photograph hanging in a special section sponsored by Acria, Ax’s offbeat action stole the show.
It began with the sounds of a monkey screaming, which echoed throughout the tent. A curious crowd quickly formed, and the artist began splashing water and ink on large blocks of shredded paper, occasionally taking the ink into her mouth and spitting it on the blocks. Soon, she began angrily tearing them apart with her hands, creating a confetti that spilled out into the aisle. It was an aggressive and physical performance, perhaps a bit too much for a wine-sipping vernissage crowd on the first night of the week. But it was exciting, and spoke to the anything-can-happen feel that UNTITLED clearly wants to cultivate.
Of course, not every booth was quite as intense. But as with any art fair, the sheer sensory overload means that the eye gravitates toward the big, the bright, and the strange. At Chicago’s moniquemeloche, Ebony G. Patterson’s installation of blinged-out coffins make a visual statement that also carries a deeper story—apparently “bling funerals” are an increasingly common practice in Jamaican working-class communities, as they proclaim: “You may not have noticed me when I was alive, but you will damn well see me as I leave.” Indeed, the coffins and their backstory were difficult to ignore.
At Site:Lab, a site-specific installation-based art collective from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Blane De St. Croix has created an impressive installation of rocks, complete with moss and small pools of water. Both monumental (in the context of the fair) and miniature (in the context of the natural environment it is based upon), it’s a striking comment on the complicated, ongoing relationship between humans and the natural world.
If you remain unconvinced of UNTITLED’s merits as a satellite fair, here’s the real truth: people like this fair because it gives them what they truly want. Which in this case is a reflective, color-changing wall against which to take selfies, courtesy of Phillip K. Smith and California’s Royale Projects.
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