The booth of São Paulo gallery Mendes Wood at Miami Basel was taken over by the artist Cibelle Cavalli Bastos, who–behind a curtain that said “Welcome to Las Vegas” (Vegas was crossed out and the word “Venus” was written over it)–was giving incredibly wacky, appointment-only performances to small groups. A gallery employee opened the curtain and said to me, “Welcome to the retro future,” and inside was Bastos, dressed like a Vegas show girl on an acid trip, who instructed the five people in the room to take a seat around her in a circle.
“You guys just crossed a folding dimension,” she said.
The room was covered in wrapping paper and kitschy throw rugs. In one corner was a giant inflatable duck. In another were baskets of dead flowers. Bastos had purple hair and one black lace glove, and was wearing a floral-print bathing suit with silver leggings and a bouquet of feathers sticking out of her back. She mostly sat in a chair and rambled about what the future is like.
“This place here,” she said, “Earth crashed with another planet. It’s fine. Something really wonderful happened because the ocean became this waterfall that covered where Las Vegas used to be. Basically here you can just relax.”
And so forth. After discussing how gender no longer exists in the future, she started talking up some “products” that she was going to sell to the audience. “But don’t worry because you don’t have to buy anything. Thank the universe.”
She decided before “selling” us the “products” she would sing a song. She stood, and walked to a table with a Roland sampler resting on it, which started playing a jazzy acoustic guitar riff. Bastos sang “It’s Not Easy Being Green” and started dancing with an old lady who had, moments before, stumbled inside. She finished singing and people applauded.
“This is not me,” she said. “I am you.”
Then she walked out of the room, over to where the dealers were manning a table in the main fair, and started yelling, “Get some products! They are good! They are good! Everybody ready to get some products?”
The first product, she said, was “the poetic license card.”