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    What a Short, Strange Miami Trip It’s Been

    Best optical illusion, best cat, and other highlights that linger in the mind and the brain after five days of fair-going


    Showing some skin in Miami

    A Hitchcockian scene in Wynwood.

    PHOTO ©ROBIN CEMBALEST.

    Here’s something you don’t see every day in today’s art—a hunky, heroic worker. That’s the point Esther Shalev-Gerz hammers home in “Describing Labor,” her elaborate conceptual project at the Wolfsonian that involved immersing herself—and a group of advisers—in the collections of decorative arts, propaganda, architecture, and industrial and graphic design from the period 1885–1945. They picked images of work and workers that themselves became the basis of the new multi-media pieces in the show.

    Esther Shalev-Gerz, Describing Labor – Work for America!, 2012, color photograph.

    COMMISSIONED BY THE WOLFSONIAN-FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY, MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA, 2012.

    Moving Pictures
    A post-Degas mural by Anthony Lister on NW 23rd Street.

    PHOTO ©ROBIN CEMBALEST

    Nearby, a new fair called “Moving the Still,” a collaboration between Tumblr and Paddle8, spotlighted the suggestive, hypnotic computer animations that are created with the Graphics Interchange Format and known as GIFs. (The format is 25 years old, but people are still arguing over how to pronounce it.)

    The works, assembled after an open call and selected with the help of a committee including Roselee Goldberg and Michael Stipe, feature quick movements–a smiley face melting, a banana being peeled–repeated in endless loops.

    Keep your eye on this Cindy Sherman film still.

    A GIF by Joe Kay featuring a Cindy Sherman film still, 2012.

    GIF BY JOE KAY FOR MOVING THE STILL.

    Stop that, doing exactly the opposite.

    Emily Elizabeth W, Stop That, selected by Ryan Trecartin, 2012.

    COURTESY MOVING THE STILL.

    Not Just Any Body…
    On Hyperallergic, Hrag Vartanian reports being surprised during his own perambulations about the absence of contemporary renderings of the human figure. But animals were everywhere–dead ones especially. Judging by the offerings in Miami, taxidermic creatures have become the new trophy heads.

    Some animals are more creepy than others. On the sinister end of the spectrum, the caged cat (with a bird on top) that Eva and Franco Mattes once passed off as a Maurizio Cattelan stood guard near the door at Seven, courtesy Postmasters Gallery. More endearing were Marcus Kenney’s creatures at Jonathan Ferrara’s stand at Pulse, which brought a Mardi Gras bling to the conventional hunter’s trophy by using real animal parts mixed with buttons, fabric, feathers, sequins, leather, shells, beads, glass eyes, silk, and more.

    Marcus Kenney, Stellah Terrah, 2012, reclaimed taxidermy, fabric, feathers, plastic, acrylic, beach glass, beads, paper, cotton, twine, thread, bronze, silk, polish, buttons, fur, synthetic hair, metal, pins, etc. At Pulse.

    COURTESY THE ARTIST AND JONATHAN FERRARA GALLERY, NEW ORLEANS.

    Not advised if you have a cat
    Liliana Porter via Carrie Secrist at Pulse.

    Liliana Porter, The Anarchist, 2012, shelf with figurine and yarn.

    COURTESY THE ARTIST AND CARRIE SECRIST GALLERY, CHICAGO.

    Visitors to Scope were captivated by Troy Abbott’s series of caged video birds at Robert Fontaine’s stand.

    Troy Abbott, LOVE SONG, 2012, steel, found object, TFT,LCD, video, various electronics, SD memory. In Scope.

    COURTESY ROBERT FONTAINE GALLERY.

    Best in Show
    Ged Quinn’s bizarre felines, part of the Bass’s crowd-pleasing exhibition of artists riffing on the Renaissance, included a stigmata-bearing kitten wearing a crown of thorns, another going medieval on a mouse, and this one, Who Killed Walter Benjamin. (The German Jewish writer committed suicide in 1940 in flight from the Nazis.)

    Ged Quinn, Who Killed Walter Benjamin, 2012, oil on linen.

    COPYRIGHT THE ARTIST/IMAGE COURTESY THE ARTIST AND STEPHEN FRIEDMAN GALLERY, LONDON/PHOTOGRAPHY MARK BLOWER.

    Don’t Call it a Comeback
    Like Duchamp, Benjamin was a haunting recurring presence in Miami. Angela Detanico and Rafael Lain reproduced the writers’ works in the font Helvetica Concentrated, making them impossible to read. The piece, Benjamin Concentrated, is in “Unsaid/Unspoken,” a show about language and its limits at the Cisneros-Fontanals Collection.

    Angela Detanico and Rafael Lain, Benjamin Concentrated, 2012, 17 digital prints on paper kozo Awagami 70g.

    COPYRIGHT THE ARTIST/COURTESY THE ARTIST AND THE ELLA FONTANALS-CISNEROS COLLECTION, MIAMI, FL.

    The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction?

    A handmade iPod by Cuban artist Abel Barroso, who is also showing his carved pinball machines in a solo turn at PanAmericanArtProjects.

    Abel Barroso, Ipod Touch, 2012, xylograph on wood. In Art Miami.

    IMAGE COURTESY FERNANDA TORCIDA.

    Good Vibrations
    With work in a spectrum of galleries from the U.S., Brazil, and Europe, Venezuela’s kinetic-art pioneer Jesús Raphael Soto was a huge presence at Art Basel Miami Beach. His friend and colleague Antonio Asis, an Argentine-born master of Op who moved in 1956 to Paris (where he still resides), is having a moment of his own, with a solo show at Kabe Contemporary in Wynwood.

    Antonio Asis, Maquette 1, # 3056, 1961, acrylic on paper.

    COURTESY KABE CONTEMPORARY.

    Still Life with Nipples and Press-ons
    Dead tulips and a skull are two of the few more conventional elements in Jessica Stoller’s update on the nature morte tradition, which also includes bejeweled manicures and random breasts.

    Jessica Stoller, Selfless/Selflesh, 2011, porcelain, china paint, luster and mixed media. At Seven.

    COURTESY THE ARTIST AND P.P.O.W GALLERY, NEW YORK.

    Plate tectonics
    Amid all the luscious ceramics on offer it was surprising to spot some relatively dowdy flea-market finds on a back wall at Design Miami. This was the stand of the Tel Aviv-based Design Space, featuring plates that Noam Dover and Michal Cederbaum had selectively and strategically sandblasted to remove parts of their original glaze. The resulting ghostly images reflect the circumstances in which the original plates were made, as well as a new historical reality. The plate at top center here, originally made in Bavaria, bears an image of the wall separating Israel and Palestine.

    Noam Dover and Michal Cederbaum, “Sandblasted,” ceramic plates. At Design Miami.

    PHOTO ©ROBIN CEMBALEST.

    I’ll be your mirror
    There was a profusion of reflective artworks at the fairs, among them Monica Rowe’s untitled piece at D’Amelio. In a sense, these provided the figures: they were us.

    Heather Rowe, Untitled, 2012, wood, mirror, frames. At Art Basel Miami Beach.

    IMAGE COURTESY OF D’AMELIO GALLERY, NEW YORK. PHOTO ©ROBIN CEMBALEST.

    Use Your Illusion
    As the fair recedes in the past, a lingering impression remains. Chul Hyun Ahn’s Railroad Nostalgia tricked the eye, the mind, and the camera.

    Chul Hyun Ahn, Railroad Nostalgia, 2012. At Art Miami.

    COURTESY C. GRIMALDIS GALLERY. PHOTO ©ROBIN CEMBALEST.

    Copyright 2014, ARTnews LLC, 48 West 38th Street, New York, N.Y. 10018. All rights reserved.

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