Wyclef, Deitch Get the Partying Masses Warmed Up at Art Basel in Miami Beach
A wild week kicks off, whether you are "Ready or Not."
Only in Miami. It’s a phrase you’ll be hearing a lot this week, and for good reason: Where else can you dance on stage with Wyclef Jean, jamming to everything from Nirvana to the Jackson Five, not to mention Jean’s own hits like “Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill)” and “Hips Don’t Lie?”
The weeklong festivities for Art Basel in Miami Beach kicked off Monday in a big way, with a dinner and concert held by SURFACE magazine honoring art collector Pérez Art Museum Miami namesake Jorge Pérez. For once, the action wasn’t over in Miami Beach, as the day’s other can’t-miss event was a sneak peak at the highly-anticipated “Unrealism” show being presented in the Design District by dealers Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian.
artnet News touched down in Miami proper around 3:00, where a rainbow could be seen above Wish, a fifty-foot-tall dandelion sculpture by Richard James.
The installation was just down the street from Locust Projects, where a small crowd witnessed a wonderfully bizarre performance of choreographer Silas Riener writhing around in the large rubber sculptures/costumes created by Martha Friedman for her exhibition “Pore.”
Riener seemed to become one with Friedman’s work, emerging from a deep red sheet as if from the womb, and tangled up in umbilical cord-like rubber strings attached to an off-white one. Unsettling in all the best ways, it perfectly set the tone for what promises to be a week full of all manner of art and performance.
From there it was over to the headquarters of Design District founder Craig Robins’s real estate company DACRA, which also serves as his private museum. Guests enjoyed passed appetizers and champagne along with the art, before Robin spoke briefly, promising a “big surprise” at the end of a brief walking tour of the district.
That surprise was an early glimpse of the museum-quality “Unrealism” for in-the-know fair-goers. “It’s almost there; I think you’re gonna enjoy it,” said Deitch of the still not-quite finished exhibition, promising it is “more fun” to see it in process.
“I think this is my 10th collaboration with Craig,” said Deitch, recalling that he first visited the district back in 2002, when “it was basically a vision in [Craig’s] mind.”
Held around Zaha Hadid’s multi-story Elastica installation in the Moore Building, which Deitch praised as “one of the most beautiful spaces in Miami,” the show features everyone from Swoon and Richard Prince to Walter Robinson, Dan Colen, Chris Ofili, and Chloe Wise, most of whom have contributed monumental, floor-to-ceiling canvases.
With tomorrow’s opening promising to be a jam-packed event, featuring a New Orleans-style parade through the district by Rashaad Newsome, the low-key preview (attended by Pickle the art dog, among others) was quite a treat, and an excellent start to what proved to be a wild night. Next stop: the Pérez Art Museum.
The evening at the Pérez started with cocktails and a delicious three-course dinner set on the museum’s deck overlooking the water, on a long clear table elegantly decked out with an arching tablescape by the ArandaLasch architecture firm. But the real party started after the meal, when onetime Fugees frontman Wyclef Jean took the stage.
The concert was initially rather subdued—Jean blamed the digestive process—beginning with his rendition of “No Woman No Cry.” Throughout the performance, Jean showed off his musical prowess, tickling the keys, throwing down on the bongos, and playing guitar, showing off by placing the instrument behind his head and even picking the strings with his mouth.
“Just Google me—I’m kind of famous,” Jean crowed by way of introduction a few songs into the night.
As the evening progressed, the crowd perked up considerably, particularly after Jean evicted the event photographers from the front row for “Hips Don’t Lie.”
During a rendition the Fugee’s hit “Ready or Not,” Jean broke into a freestyle rap, calling out Pérez and even this artnet News reporter, immortalizing her in song as “the girl in red, pretty girl in the red.”
The night reached its pinnacle as Jean began pulling audience members up on stage after a rendition of “Killing Me Softly” for an epic dance party that included Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and Guns ‘N Roses’s “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” By the end of the night, Jean was climbing the lighting rig and leading the crowd in a Conga line.
“The difference with me and Chris Brown, Chris Brown be wearing make up—I just look good,” said Jean, sweating profusely. The adorning crowds in Miami seemed to agree.
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