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.
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.
A post-Degas mural by Anthony Lister on NW 23rd Street.
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.
Stop that, doing exactly the opposite.
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.
Not advised if you have a cat
Liliana Porter via Carrie Secrist at Pulse.
Visitors to Scope were captivated by Troy Abbott’s series of caged video birds at Robert Fontaine’s stand.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.