Starting early next week, the annual onslaught of events surrounding Art Basel Miami Beach begins (and with it our #beachedbasel photo contest). Inarguably the high point of the Miami social calendar, we can all admit that at least half the fun comes from observing the human zoo that pours into town from ever corner of the globe. At the center of it all, of course, is the massive ABMB fair itself, housed in the cavernous Miami Beach Convention Center. But even that only represents a slice of the action.
Camila Álvarez is a Colombian artist and a student at FIU who is working on a thesis about the social construction of place. Her research brought her to Atlanta to learn about a street-art initiative called Living Walls.
I’ve walked countless times along N.W. Second Ave, through the heart of Wynwood as most of Miami knows it, to delight in its colorful walls, its gourmet coffee, and its hipster watering holes. And something always seems off. There’s a synthetic feel that always leads me to look one block east, one block west, and remember that, for all its delights, Wynwood is just another poor Miami neighborhood, and that its rebirth as an Art District didn’t happen, as most Miamians seem to believe, spontaneously.
Housed in a Wynwood warehouse on Miami Avenue, Fountain Art Fair prides itself on its DIY ethos and “not your grandfather’s art fair” atmosphere. When I stopped by earlier today, there was a team of tank-topped guys and gals working to get a giant pink bunny balloon aloft in the patchy field where the fair will present Fab 5 Freddy and other performers on Friday night. The piece is by New York artist Ryan Cronin, one of the 28 exhibitors at Fountain this year.
One of the cool things about Fountain is that, unlike ABMB itself and most of the other satellite fairs, many of its exhibition spaces are manned by artists, not dealers. So while all the pieces are for sale (at far cheaper prices than at the other satellites), there is a fundamentally different vibe, which is to say, it doesn’t feel like a supermarket with art for sale. This makes for a more enjoyable experience if you are not looking to buy art but simply experience it.
One of the exhibitors who caught my attention during my walkthrough this afternoon was Sarah Trouche, and not only because she appeared nude in most of her work. In her video “Action for Great Wall”, the young Parisian descends from the heights of the Great Wall of China, nude, her body painted red, holding a flare. Trouche told me the piece is a response to the indignant reaction of the Chinese when French protesters, in the lead up to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, forced Chinese officials to extinguish the Olympic torch. You can watch the video after the jump.
We got to the New Times party at Fountain Art Fair around midnight (been running an hour or so behind the Art Basel express all weekend), just in time to witness the Clockwork Orange-chic crowd do the ultra-violent to a pitiable turquoise sedan, make a few rounds of the exhibition — something like a rash of contemporary art spread across the walls and floors of the Wynwood warehouse space (that’s an endorsement) — and hear Shepard Fairey, of iconic-Obama-hope-poster fame, spin a mediocre DJ set. (Really bummed to miss Celine & The Hellbillies.)
Fountain bills itself as the anti-art-fair art fair, and if “art fair” to you signifies a series of booths composed just so and manned (boyed?) by impeccably dressed cherubs with an ability to assess wealth and purchase-intent in a single upward glance — then Fountain is the opposite of that. With only one day of Art Basel left (TODAY!), you may want to make it over to N. Miami Avenue and 25th Street, perhaps for the live silk screening event starting at 4 p.m. Here are a few pics from last night to entice you — or scare you away.