Michael Farley on the events not happening at art fairs…
Outside of the fairs, there are a plethora of local galleries, pop-up spaces, and DIY venues with artwork of a comparable caliber to what one might pay to see in the tents. At 420 Lincoln Road, in the heart of South Beach, David Castillo Gallery is putting on an exhibition in a defunct nightclub.
This neon sign by Rafael Ferrer near the entrance is exactly the type of punny art-world-self-referential-inside-joke work that I know I shouldn’t like but I secretly really, really do. A portrait by Xaviera Simmons is great. There are so many times I totally wish I could just hold Grace Jones over my face and let her identity speak for me.
This is Tasha and Monica Lopez de Victoria, otherwise known as the TM Sisters. They collaborate on installations, video, and events all across Miami. They are amazing. These two are also a huge part of why I love this city. Here, they’ve hung a palm tree in the middle of the dance floor like an inverted Christmas tree activated by video projections. Again, no living things were killed for the piece—the tree was sourced from someone who was planning on cutting it down, and they still were really sad about it dying.
I didn’t notice this performance by Susan Lee Chun, clad in all-black sitting in the dark, empty kitchen until someone else took a photo. It totally caught me off-guard and marks the first time I’ve been a little frightened in South Beach during this Basel week. I’m hoping for many more.
After the David Costillo reception, I headed across the bay to Wynwood. There, I caught the tail end of the opening for “BACK ON EARTH, a Tragicomedy in Two Parts” at Emmerson Dorsh, one of my favorite galleries here. It’s a two-person show featuring collaborations between Brandon Opalka and Hugo Montoya. Their work is funny and references play without functioning as just a one-liner. It’s also very well-executed for how crazy ambitious the project is, considering that the space was a blank slate hosting performances last week.
One gallery seems to reference a tropical childhood—from awkward adolescent photos, cans of Goya beans, and somewhat “juvenile” tagging of bananas. There’s actually a hole cut into the gallery wall, leading viewers through a tunnel constructed through the gallery’s storage room.
It’s lined with palm fronds and plexiglass and is really, really fun to crawl through.
On the other side, there’s a door to the gallery’s patio. There’s almost an implication that the tunnel references a coming-of-age, or passing of time. Outside, there are more sculptures that imply play, but there’s a slightly more existential quality to the work—including several tongue-in-cheek “momento mori” pieces.
Tuesday night, I didn’t get to any fairs because I was busy with my own show. I co-curated “The ‘Planet Hollywood’ of Newer Genres” at Zones Art Fair with local Miami maven Liz Ferrer. It’s an exhibition of remnants or documentation from performances or interactive works that happen in the space. It’s been an interesting show to work on—it still isn’t totally installed and we don’t really know what the end product will look like, as each performer leaves their own tangible index in the space behind them. Last night was our drag-centric evening. I know it’s pretty gauche to blog about your own project, but hey… here are some photos with lots of Baltimore faces in a warehouse-ish space that makes me just a little homesick.
Baltimore’s very own Maggie Burke with Goucher alum/exhibiting artist Jamie Marsh hanging out in the #GOTHBRUNCH chaise lounge I produced in collaboration with Karl Ekdahl and Ryan Mitchell for Artscape 2013.
Kevin Blackistone’s animated video sets from the Baltimore Rock Opera Society production “The Electric Pharaoh”
Off-and-on Baltimorean Sophia Park’s alter ego “Smashley Flip Flop” doing whip-its to a recording of product reviews being read sensually.
Maxine Fishpaw of Savannah, GA’s House of Gunt inviting audience members to chop off her wig to a lip-synch of “Pieces of Me.”
House of Gunt’s Toyota Mitsubishi served up the strangest picnic since last Basel’s infamously ill-fated Rikrit Tiravanija piece.
One more Gunt member, Anita Shave, smashed mirrors in a performance that coincidentally complimented Portuondo’s projection.
We’ve been documenting the performances with instant film to be able to hang images immediately. I love how well these images of MICA alum Dino Real’s performance came out.
And, one of the coolest people I’ve met through this project, Kathryn Marks, finds documentation of women performing in the age of black-and-white photography. These web-sourced images are then printed out and modified with white-out and markers to “update” their aesthetics.
Just when the night was winding down, Otto Von Schirach—a local music/performance legend—showed up and led all the queens in an impromptu dance party. These kinds of spontaneous moments are exactly what are absent from most art fairs. The more I get to know Miami, the more I feel like the big tents are great places to score some free champagne, but the kinds of events you hear about on Facebook or in last-minute text messages are where the real magic happens.
Author Michael Farley was born at John’s Hokpins Hospital, attended MICA for a BFA in Interdisciplinary Sculptural Studies, and recently received an MFA in Imaging Media and Digital Arts from UMBC. He has a complicated relationship with institutional critique. Although he went to digital art school, he has no website, but did switch to electronic cigarettes.