Volta Has Canceled Its Debut Miami Fair After Pandemic-Related Travel and Event Restrictions Caused Too Many Scheduling Snafus

Restrictions on international travelers confounded organizers plans.

Miami Beach, Biscayne Bay, waterfront homes. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The biggest international art fairs have returned to some sense of normalcy—the Armory Show, Frieze, and FIAC all held events in the past two months—but Volta, the popular Art Basel satellite fair, has canceled plans for its debut edition in Miami this December, Artnet News has learned.

“I would like to thank you very much for your interest in applying for our launch event at Volta Miami,” wrote director Kamiar Maleki in a recent letter to a participating dealer. “While we did everything in our power to make this into a successful event, I have some bad news to tell you.”

Complications from pandemic restrictions on travel and events had forced the fair to cancel the event, Maleki said.

Organizers had initially secured a venue at Mana Contemporary, but by this past spring it lost its contract to host events “and thus we were left empty handed, very late in the game,” he wrote. In July, they found an opportunity to build a tent opposite NADA, “which I believe was a fabulous venue even better than what we had before.” But by then the long delayed travel restrictions on European, Asian, and African travelers were still in place (they are expected to lift sometime next month), so they felt they couldn’t confirm plans.

Pier 90. Photo by David Willems, courtesy VOLTA.

Pier 90. Photo by David Willems, courtesy VOLTA.

Maleki told Artnet News that galleries have been understanding. Exhibitors that applied to Volta Miami and sent in a deposit have the option of requesting a refund or keeping the application in place for a 2022 Volta fair.

“We were definitely disappointed,” said Charles Saffati, owner of Carlton Fine Arts, which will now show Chinese artist Linjie Deng’s work at Scope instead. “We look forward to Volta reemerging in Miami next year and will support them on their return.”

Maleki said organizers would devote the next few months to planning next year’s edition in Miami, and that a New York fair is anticipated for May. Volta Basel, which ran last month alongside Art Basel, will return next June.

“Given the circumstances, this was the most reasonable way to go forward,” he said. “Still, we had some amazing activations in place working with some large NFT platforms, among many others, and are very unhappy we cannot realize this.”

Meanwhile, Art Miami director Nick Korniloff confirmed that his fair and sister event Context are proceeding as planned, but that Aqua, another small fair under the Art Miami umbrella, would be postponed until 2022.

Volta launched in the mid-aughts in a former power plant in Basel as a curated show where booths typically displayed the work of one artist. It was eventually bought by Merchandise Mart, which owns the Armory Show. The current owner, Ramsay Fairs, bought it from Merchandise Mart in late 2019; Volta’s Miami edition was meant to replace the 15-year-old Pulse Miami Beach.

After learning of Mana’s status, Maleki told Artnet News: “we were looking hard until we finally found a location in Wynwood, opposite The Ice Palace Studios and in close proximity to NADA and Art Miami. This was in late July. By then a lot of our galleries had already been accepted into Untitled and Art Miami.”

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