Here Are 5 Big Ideas the PULSE Art Fair Is Pursuing for Its 15th Anniversary Edition This Year

Devoted relaxation zones and a focus on Miami's local culture are among the new features.

A visitor to the fair captures an Instagram-worthy booth at PULSE, 2018. Courtesy of PULSE Art Fair.
A visitor to Beers London's booth featuring the work of Andy Dixon at PULSE 2017. Courtesy of PULSE Art Fair.

Of all the fairs in Miami’s frenzied art scene, PULSE is the one that goes to the beat of its own drum—one that’s syncopated to the waves crashing just outside the fair’s oceanfront venue.

Founded in 2005, PULSE has seen its fair share of changes and cities from New York, Los Angeles, and London, comings and goings in company leadership, and ebbs that naturally stem from the up-and-down flow of the art market. But now, in its 15th year, the fair is as confident as ever and is promising to be the calm in the storm of art fairs.

Director Cristina Salmastrelli, who joined PULSE as the fair manager eight years ago, is audibly delighted to be at the helm for this landmark year. “It’s been a real 360 degrees for me. I’m very sentimental about this anniversary,” Salmastrelli said.

Ahead of the fair season, we caught up with Salmastrelli to talk about five big ideas she and her team are working on for Miami this December.

Installation view of NL=US's booth featuring the work of Hans van Bentem, PULSE 2018.

Installation view of NL=US’s booth featuring the work of Hans van Bentem, PULSE 2018. Courtesy of PULSE Art Fair.

Reflections on PULSE’s History  

The year will be a trip down memory lane as PULSE introduces a new blog series that will look back on memorable projects, artists, and galleries that appeared in past editions.

One group of posts will survey PULSE Prize winners to see where they are today. The first article will be written about the first-ever winner, Philip Gurrey, who was awarded in 2008. More than 10 years later, the jury-awarded prize remains a fair favorite.

“Any gallery that presents a solo exhibition at our fair is eligible for their artist to win a $2,500 cash grant to further their creative path,” Salmastrelli said. “It’s something that we are incredibly proud of and visitors can look forward to the presentation of this prize at PULSE this year.”

Tony Gum, the 2017 PULSE Prize winner, will be among those contributing to the fair's new blog series.

Tony Gum, the 2017 PULSE Prize winner.

Battling Fair Fatigue With Hammocks and Meditation 

Your eyes suddenly glaze over and a heated panic clouds your mind. You’re lost in a labyrinth of booths with no way out.

Fair fatigue—it’s real, and this year, PULSE is taking active steps to maintain visitors’ equilibriums. For 2019, the fair has even branded itself as “The Calm in the Palms,” and to make good on its name, a fifth of its floor space will be devoted to lounges and cafes. Art beleaguered guests will be encouraged to take breaks from hawking the booths to nap in hammocks, enjoy drinks and tapas, and even give meditation a try (it was a big hit in 2018).

You will not be exhausted, but exhilarated,” Salmastrelli said.

Artist Zoe Buckman's with her work Champ at the 2016 PULSE art fair

Artist Zoe Buckman with her work Champ at the 2016 PULSE Art Fair. Courtesy of PULSE Art Fair.

The Local Perspectivo

You could argue that Miami is a symbolic Mecca of Latin American culture in the United States. And to honor the contributions of Miami’s vibrant Latino community to the global art world, the fair is introducing PULSE Perspectivos, a dual language programming series.

Daily panel discussions will take place twice a day, once in English and once in Spanish. These conversations promise to dig into the diverse art scenes coming out of Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela, Chile, and other countries. 

PULSE Play Los Angeles 2011, Industry of Fetish, Curated by Dossier and Skylight Projects, New York. Courtesy PULSE Art Fair.

PULSE Play Los Angeles 2011, Industry of Fetish, Curated by Dossier and Skylight Projects, New York. Courtesy PULSE Art Fair.

Video Art’s Only Dedicated Platform during Miami Art Week 

Since its first fair, PULSE has promoted video art with PULSE PLAY, a dedicated platform for video art, and, for the past few years, has been the only fair feature made exclusively for video art during the whole of Miami Art Week. This year, the fair will present two 20-hour videos by longtime exhibitor Black & White Gallery.

 “PULSE is the only art fair (at least in Miami) that provides an opportunity for non-commercial projects through PULSE PLAY to be presented,” said Tatyana Okshteyn of Black & White Gallery,

Courtesy of PULSE Art Fair.

Courtesy of PULSE Art Fair.

The Tried-And-True

But not everything will be about change this year.

Art fairs are still the hub of communications where all spokes of the art wheel can meet at one place at one time. It’s still the center of inspiration and exploration in my mind,” Salmastrelli said.

Applications for the fair remain open until the end of June, but visitors should expect 70 international galleries that will be showcase everything from focused solo presentations, to large-scale installations. Notable returnees to the fair include Uprise Art, which will be showing for the seventh consecutive year.

The fair prides itself on this sense of dedication. “From the minute we call you a PULSE exhibitor, we are in constant communication to make sure you are prepared as you can be,” Salmastrelli said. “It’s not just during the fair, but throughout the year. Our galleries are our family.”

Application for PULSE 2019 are open through June 30, 2019.The fair takes place December 5–8, 2019.

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