Best of Art Basel Miami Beach 2018: All the Instagrammable art and celebrity sightings you missed
Chances are you were not chilling out in Miami over the weekend, but you'd be interested to know that between the major fairs, Art Basel Miami and Design Miami, there was plenty of action going on: from pop-ups by fashion houses to exhibitions at the city's starchitect-designed cultural institutions. In the interest of FOMO and the ongoing famine of beauty in this country, we've distilled the most worthwhile happenings to catch you up to speed so you'll sound like you know it all the next time you bump into a chin-stroking, champagne-sipping gallerist or collector at Gillman Barracks.
Art Basel Miami
Art Basel is to art what Paris Couture Week means for fashion; ultra-exclusive, off-the-charts price tags, Moët-fuelled chi-chi parties and peacocking visitors who are just as decked out as what's on show. Besides Miami Beach, the annual modern and contemporary art fair travels to Hong Kong in March and Basel, Switzerland in June and in November 2019, it will descend upon Singapore for its first novel edition of ART SG. The 17th edition of Art Basel Miami Beach brought together 268 galleries from 35 countries, including 29 first-time exhibitors as well as Singapore's very own STPI, under the roof of the city's convention center. Among the highlights this year were a giant pair of concrete boots by YBA Sarah Lucas at Sadie Coles HQ, Jeremy Deller's banner 'Hello, today you have the day off (wording of a text message sent to a worker on a zero hours contract informing him his labour would not be required that day)' at the Modern Institute and Mexican artist Abraham Cruz Villegas's multidisciplinary installation and performance work 'Autorreconstrucción: To Insist, to Insist, to Insist...'. There were plenty of hand-shaking, air-kissing and deal-making as usual with 8-figure Basquiat and Rothko canvases up for grabs.
Design Miami is literally adjacent to Art Basel on Miami Beach. It prides itself on being "the global forum for design", which actually means, the fair is ground zero for the most thought-leading collectors, gallerist, designers, curators and critics from around the world to sell, exhibit and talk about design and make a pretty penny while doing so. One of the hyped up pieces on offer was the collab between artist KAWS and design duo the Campana brothers. The trio exhibited two chairs and a sofa, which were made up of a basic metal armature and an assorted mash-up of about 75 to 120 of the artist's iconic plush soft toys in pink and black — which are currently so in-demand that his Sesame Street collab is selling like hot kueh at Uniqlo.
Prada presented Prada Mode
As a counterpoint to last year's Carsten Höller pop-up nightclub, Prada took over the tropical Freehand Miami Hotel to present Prada Mode, an events platform that hosted cultural and music programming as well as a site-specific intervention by Theaster Gates that explored black identity. The line-up included events co-organized with movers and shakers such as DJ Honey Dijon and YouTube's Derek Blasberg among others. In the afternoon, Document Journal moderated conversations on the current state of the image and innovations within the fields of art and fashion. Special menus were planned throughout each day at the club, and each night culminated in a party with live music acts.The Prada Mode Miami resident DJs included Craig Richards, No Vacancy Inn, AJ Kwame, and Arman Nafeei, with performances by Ella, DJ Madrid Perry, and the Black Monks of Mississippi.
Haas Brothers' exhibition 'Ferngully' at the Bass Museum
The Hass Brothers are no strangers to the creative scene in Miami. The pair regularly show their hairy sheepskin chaise lounges and fantastical beaded chairs at Design Miami, but for the first time this year, they participated in Art Basel and received their first major show at an art museum. Arguably the week's most Instagrammed exhibition, 'Ferngully' at the Bass Museum was an Alice In Wonderland gone wrong fantasy of anthropomorphic furry and lovable creatures as well as towering multi-coloured toadstool mushrooms. Adding to their desirablity, pop culture references are sprinkled all over their artwork's titles as well: a lit palm tree is named John Palm Goutier while a mushroom sculpture is labelled as Mary Tyler Spoore. It's not all just eye candy though; all four of their ceramic 'Accretions' vases were sold during the VIP preview for $18,000 to $60,000 each.
The inaugural Faena Festival
Argentinean real estate developer Alan Faena launched the inaugural Faena Festival, titled "This Is Not America" after Alfredo Jaar's1987 video work A Logo for America. The festival featured a series of artist performances and public art on the Miami beach. Jaar's floated off shore, while on the sand, Derrick Adams interrogated the city's historically problematic relationship with race with a vibrant sculpture based on an archival image of African American kids playing on one of the country's first under-the-highway playgrounds that was constructed in a low-income neighborhood before it was demolished to make way for infrastructure. Other highlights included Tavares Strachan's neon-lit We Belong Here and a country house by George Sánchez-Calderón that was later set on fire in remembrance of those who have lost their homes during the recent forest fires in California.