Tag Archives: Summer 2014
Until 2006 it was still possible for the entire Biennale to be hosted inside the KW Institute as well as in vacant buildings in the Mitte neighborhood. But recent development in the neighborhood has forced Biennale’s curators and organizers to expand to venues outside of the city center. While this may have extended travel times between venues, it introduced the artists and audience to parts of the city outside of the expected cultural hubs that have flourished over the years. Most importantly, as noted by Gabriele Horn, Director of KW Institute, it came to reflect the “diversity, social and spatial heterogeneity, dynamism, mobility, and simultaneity of different urban areas that opens up the varied potential for the city’s future and its multiple publics.”
Efficient and peaceful, the Tallinn airport was a marked improvement upon infernal Miami International. The cab driver’s English was better than those in Miami. Come to think of it, everything here seemed better than Miami, especially the weather, which was worse than Miami’s, but simply by being bad offered a change and, with that, excitement. “Nothing is harder to bear than a succession of fair days,” Goethe says. Luckily, with its near-constant cloud cover and regular showers, I didn’t have to worry about that in Tallinn.
On a rainy day in May, the Miami-based artist Christy Gast and I decided to distract ourselves from working on the exhibition project that had brought us to Paris by going to check out Thomas Hirschhorn’s latest installation Flamme Éternelle at the Palais de Tokyo. It was a welcome surprise, upon entry, to discover that Hirschhorn had chosen to make his exhibition free of charge and had built a structure and a communication/signage system that bypassed the admissions desk and descend directly into the massive sub-floors of the art palace. Steered, as we were, by Hirschhorn’s usual language of cardboard, packing tape, and philosophical slogans, we soon found ourselves in what felt like a jerry-built city constructed almost entirely of tires and where the reigning feeling was “anything goes.”
Three Belgian artists, represented by a gallery in Berlin, stage an exhibition in London concerning life in Florida. Chew on that. Chew slowly and hope it stays down. Lieven Deconinck, Gaëtan Begerem, and Robin De Vooght are three multidisciplinary artists who have meshed their names together to form Leo Gabin. For their recent solo exhibition, part of the alternative Inside the White Cube series at White Cube (Mason’s Yard) in London, Leo Gabin addressed Florida as a modern Limbo: where those occupying it lie in wait, in longing but with little hope, for a future above and beyond their current circumstances.
If any city is poised to invent its own idiom, it is here.
In this sprawled out, inconclusive phrasing of a city.
If Miami were punctuation it would be a colon: porous and prophetic.
In the spring of 2013, Miami artists Loriel Beltran, Domingo Castillo, and Aramis Gutierrez started a gallery in Little Haiti called GUCCIVUITTON. I didn’t fully get the irony of the name until I attended an almost empty “collectors night” there, hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami. When I asked a museum staff person why it was so sparsely attended, she said “we think a lot of our members drove up, looked at the neighborhood, and kept driving—I mean we’ve had members not come to events because there wasn’t valet, so you can imagine they aren’t ready to stop in Little Haiti!” Despite such collector trepidation, GUCCIVUITTON has mounted some of the most interesting and eclectic exhibitions anywhere, with a sensibility that could only come out of Miami—in fact, that is their stated mission: to explore a colloquial South Florida aesthetic in its many forms. One sweltering afternoon during their Chayo Frank exhibition Gutierrez and Beltran walked me through an oral history of GUCCIVUITTON.
The first time I saw Beach Day perform was from the periphery of a sweaty mosh pit at Gramps Bar in Wynwood, where the band opened up for pop-punk icons the Thermals. Skate videos showing epic, painful wipeouts ran continuously on loop, projected against the side of an adjacent building. A haze of pink lighting enveloped the trio, tempered only by a few Christmas lights slung sparsely and haphazardly inside the small performance tent. When slender lead singer Kimmy Drake introduced herself as “just a Kendall girl,” referring to the blasé Miami suburb known mostly for its Barnes & Noble, audience members stirred restlessly. But then she froze the crowd with vocals that would’ve made Jack White, Kim Deal, and Phil Spector each nod their heads in tacit, rhythmic, hypothetical approval.