Yesterday ARTnews reported that, in light of the results of the presidential election, many booths had taken a more political tack and planned to infuse the fair with a topicality not usually seen in sunny Miami Beach.
Well, that topicality is on full display when you enter Hall B: smacking you in the face upon entry is Sam Durant’s End White Supremacy (2008), a glowing bright electric sign with those searing words written in scrawled letters. It’s installed on the outside wall of the Blum & Poe booth.
The dealers decided to fill the prime real-estate with the Durant before the shocking electoral upset led us to our current political turmoil, said gallery partner Jeff Poe. (A fellow edition of the piece also hung above Paula Cooper Gallery in New York when the 2008 election resulted in America’s first black president; it has just been resurrected with another presentation there, in Chelsea, too.)
“We were going to do it before the election, not knowing how it would play out,” Poe said. “The booth certainly has a bit of a theme to it—it’s not the best of times right now. It was always our intent to have a political booth, partially.”
Regardless of when the move was planned, the work’s presence has a new meaning now that we have a president-elect who is actively cheered by white supremacist organizations.
There’s another Durant electric sign inside, this one smaller but no less powerful. Landscape Art Sign (Emory Douglas), 2003, is so-named for the minister of culture of the Black Panther Party—he was the artist who designed the party’s iconic logos—and the work’s text is taken from a quote of his: LANDSCAPE ART IS GOOD ONLY WHEN IT SHOWS THE OPPRESSOR HANGING FROM A TREE BY HIS MOTHERF**ING NECK.
It’s complemented by another Durant work, Occupation, Lies, Illegal, Respect, Supremacy, Freedom? (2016), which is made up of spray enamel on mirror, two lovely paintings by Henry Taylor, and an installation of Taylor’s that consists of spray-painted concrete blocks and a steel pole wedged in concrete.
But it’s End White Supremacy that’s become the most talked-about work in the fair’s opening minutes. It’s on sale for $75,000 and, last we checked, it had not yet sold.
“It’ll probably sell,” Poe said. “There’s a lot of people taking pictures.”