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The KWLS is similar to the Miami Book Fair in that it attracts a lot of high-wattage writers. With about two dozen writers per session, the Key West event is smaller than the seemingly-infinite Miami event. At Book Fair, the writers usually have one fifteen to forty-five minute session on stage. At the seminar they tend to go up three or four times over the weekend, and you get to know the writers. Or at least feel you do.

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In a small front gallery with exposed ductwork, Pavel Acosta (b. 1980, Cuba) presents a meticulous and nimble series of six old masters displayed on drywall. The drywall is itself mounted on four 2×4 studs and suspended from the ceiling by wire. Acosta paints the sheets white, then peels the paint of off, and then, with the dexterity of a conservator (or a counterfeiter) assembles the paint chips to recreate icons of Western art history, frame and all.

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In 1980, Leonard Abess started Marquee magazine on Miami Beach because, on his own admission, he “wasn’t really doing anything.” A friend of his, named Bill Bucola, had inked an agreement with many of the local arts organizations to merge their newsletter. The main ingredients of an artistic-city stew were all in place and yearning for collective growth—the ballet, the symphony, the opera, the playhouse. Some are even still named the same today.

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Standing amidst a sea of people at Churchill’s Pub during the International Noise Conference (INC), a man resembling GG Allin but referring to himself as Elmer Fudd told me, “It’s like The Matrix, except you only have one choice.” As those who have attended know very well, the music festival is a tornadic carnival of sound and performance that sucks you in with its motley range of human experience: from the quiet and contemplative to those turgid displays of sex and violence.

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The Miami art scene is charged with a palpable tension. At stake is nothing less than the defining qualities of the developing aesthetic gestalt. This tension can best be conceptualized as a battle of different versions of the “simulacrum,” a term that is as old as Plato and has been contested nearly as long. Though a simulacrum can be described as, roughly, an insubstantial semblance, there is also a possibility of dissimulation that lingers about it, for it replicates a particle of reality not as it is but as it might be. Far from a matter of sterile academic debate, how the Miami art community defines itself in relation to the idea of the simulacrum (and perhaps even as a simulacrum itself) will help define an identity still inchoate. 

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NOW, the survey of artworks by R. Luke DuBois currently on view at The Ringling Museum of Art, is a collection of portraits created from crowd-sourced information. Each originates as data aggregated from sources like Billboard charts, music videos, Manhattan traffic, and the circus. Some portraits consist of complex systems, including his newest, which involves motion-triggered video, and others take on a more traditional identity as flat works recalling the history of the genre. By placing them side by side, curator Matthew McLendon emphasizes transitions both in social ideology and artistic representation.

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Americana brings together works from the museum’s early-stage collection and loans from area collectors in an attempt to create a legible co-history between the continental Americas, using its location in Miami as a framework. The city itself rolls together peoples and histories from the Caribbean and the Americas; here, the resulting cultural intersections and chasms are reflected in this exhibition in six parts.

The end of the world arrived in my neighborhood
without it mattering to anyone.
My parents put on CNN
and waited for the breaking news.

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Carol Jazzar Contemporary has been slyly nestled in suburbia for six years, offering respite to the white box-weary, art-fair exhausted public. In the semi-plein air environs of a converted garage, one side fully open to the garden, the works are dually lit by sunshine and conventional gallery fluorescence. Neither fully indoors nor outdoors, both physically and metaphysically, the space operates in the liminal present. For the gallery’s winter show, Present Tense Future Perfect, curator Teka Selman has staged a nowhere zone—between unspecified past and insinuated future.

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Between 2005 and 2008 I started by exploring the loose, gestural, and expressive idea of abstraction that I saw in the work of German painters like Albert Oehlen and Gerhard Richter, and which I found really appealing. I wanted to use some of the formal things that I saw in their work to try to talk about the content and mythologies that they had painted out of abstraction. Mainly what they got rid of was New Age-y spiritual crap, but I grew up on that stuff because my folks were hippies. 

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The exhibition consists of an impressive selection of works created between the 1960s and the present, by more than 61 artists from over a dozen Latin American nations, striking a balance between historic precedents and more contemporary manifestations. Divided by four convincing thematic sections, including “Power Parodied,” “Borders Redefined,” “Occupied Geometries,” and “Absence Accumulated,” the exhibition establishes specific points of reference for individual works while flowing compellingly between contexts.

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On the occasion of their new public installations at PortMiami, The Rail sat down with artists Bhakti Baxter and Jim Drain, along with Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs Director Michael Spring, and Art in Public Places Curator Brandi Reddick. The conversation moved from the port to the rest of the city to the ideas surrounding public art in general.

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The latent doubleness of everything, often waiting for the future to unearth it, spreads under all that Gibson writes, and it works because it seems to mimic the ways in which we can respond to and map the world we currently move in. I went to interview Gibson about his new book of essays, Distrust that Particular Flavor, at the Key West Literary Seminar in January. We met, but he felt a little too out of it for a sit-down talk. Instead, we decided on an email exchange.

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On Sunday, January 9th, I sat down with writer and curator Paola Santoscoy in the VIP room of the Hilton Reforma in Mexico City, the hotel which hosted the first edition of the Material Art Fair. We spoke about the relationship between writing and curating, and the evolution of Mexico City’s contemporary art world.

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For her new exhibition, Xaviera Simmons splits her practice, roughly, between two physical and intellectual states. Periods of fevered bursts of cultural mining—excavating small truths resident in objects and images found throughout the global landscape—are immediately followed by periods of rest. Specific to the layout at David Castillo’s Wynwood space, Simmon’s Open abandons her comfort zone in terms of curatorial choices and orientation. As every work hangs on the wall, the space morphs into a traditional portrait hall. Large-scale photographs of vaguely human torsos are hung at eye level.

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Peter Eleey is Curator and Associate Director of Exhibition and Programs at MoMA PS1 in New York, where he has organized 20 exhibitions, including an expanded version the Mike Kelley retrospective originally organized by the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Eleey’s much-lauded installation of this exhibition marked the first time that the entirety of PS1’s vast gallery spaces were dedicated to the work of a single artist. Eleey’s current survey of the work of the Austrian painter Maria Lassnig runs through May 25th. Prior to joining MoMA PS1 in 2010, he was Visual Arts Curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and Curator and Producer for Creative Time in New York. In town for his talk at Locust Projects on January 16, 2014, Eleey visited artists’ studios and toured the new Pérez Art Museum Miami with René Morales, PAMM Curator. The following interview was conducted on the heels of this visit via email.

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Of course nothing could be more out of fashion these days than considering the class perspective that a piece of writing may embody. It’s like flipping open a Razr in the Apple store. Dissecting an article to see whose interests it upholds gives off a whiff of a stodgy old exercise that has been exhausted and has undergone the terrible fate of becoming an academic practice, dead and dry and slightly embarrassing. And it’s taken to be this, when it is lucky enough to not just come off as the pure resentment of entrenched lefties—defeated curmudgeons always suspicious of everything anyway.

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A cosmopolitan city at the tip of a continent, Hong Kong has long been a cultural center. And while the contemporary art scene there is by no means new, Art Basel’s recent takeover of the Art HK fair has cast the city once again into the global eye. Writer and curator Sarah Sulistio visited the city this winter.

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Stepping into the coral-like trove of Solid Single Burner, the LA-based artist JPW3’s solo at Michael Jon Gallery, is like entering a process grotto. There is strong physical and poetic cohesiveness throughout—a transfer of imagery, materials and ideas coupled with literal changes of state as elements dematerialize and incorporate into one another in a self-referential cycle.

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John G. Hanhardt, one of the country’s foremost experts on the moving image, curated a show of the Cricket Taplin Collection in the Sagamore Hotel during Art Basel Miami. The Miami Rail’s Hunter Braithwaite spoke to him during its run.

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Miami and Los Angeles were both self-invented in the sense that today they would, respectively, be a swamp and a desert without the benefits of major hydrological engineering. Both live under the shadow of cataclysmic events—hurricanes and earthquakes. Even so, their generally benign climates have historically outweighed the threat of natural disaster for generations of newcomers. Particularly for people from the northern sectors of Europe and the Americas, life in Miami and in Los Angeles evokes images of paradise. Perhaps an even greater attraction for migration, both cities offered new lifestyles and fresh chances. They were places to start over.

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El Juego de la Viola has been rendered by Kushner into Leapfrog—a flowing and graceful Spanish phrase appropriately wedged into an Anglo-Saxon spondee. (The difference tells you everything you need to know about the art of Spanish-to-English translation.) But it’s worth noting that El Juego de la Viola had already been published in the United States—in 1994 by Miami publishing house Ediciones Universal, which tells you everything you need to know about Miami’s relation to the rest of the United States.

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The dumbing down of language. People who stop at the top of escalators. Congress. Global warming. Suspiciously happy individuals. War. Certainty. Smokers. Work. These are a few of the many topics griped about in the 70 or so posters by contemporary artists and designers in the exhibition “Complaints! An Inalienable Right,” curated by noted design critic and ridiculously prolific author Steven Heller (160 books and counting). Heller teaches at the School of Visual Arts, so we took this occasion to quiz him on the poster show, hoping to be taught something about complaints and their purpose.

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In BOG-MIA, New York-based sculptor Virginia Poundstone cross-pollinates sculpture, video installation, and photography to explore the transformation of flowers from living things to commodities within the global system of trade. The installation is rich in matter and material, incorporating vinyl, granite, aluminum, and chemically altered roses into her work. At the core of Poundstone’s installation is an inherently complicated species, one that yields a complex world beyond its natural state.