It’s our Miami issue, meaning this issue goes to Miami. It really doesn’t have anything to do with Miami or the fairs. But it is an issue we designed, content-wise, by what we thought Miami fairgoers might like to read. This year we made it our Interview issue, packed with some of the most interesting artists working today.
We’ve been going to Miami since our first year of publication in 2006. That year we rented a car, filled it with the mags, and drove all the way, taking our time, making stops, tooling around the South like we owned it. Now, 10 years later, we’re planning to drive cross-country again. I’ve been to the Florida fairs several times in between, but it’s been a while. The newness quickly wore off, making it harder to come up with real reasons to go.
But I’m looking forward to going this time. I’m not sure what to expect since so much time has passed. Our first trip to Miami Beach was filled with excitement and wonder. Besides the fairs, it was also my first time in Miami. We went to a Peaches concert on the beach where rows of shipping containers were filled with hip galleries from all over the world, showing off their wares. Back then there were only a handful of satellite fairs and you could still dine at neighborhood mom-and-pop restaurants tucked in alleyways. I’m not expecting those prized gems to still be there; I’m sure a lot has changed. But one thing I’m pretty sure that will be the same is the art. The artworks and art galleries and art dealers and art bars and art parties and art performances and art panels and art dinners and art talks and art tours and oh, yeah, the art.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s some great art to see. But the image-overload can be draining to the point of inspiring cynicism. It’s as if you’re in an art circus, where the elephant in the room is really the missing art. The clown is the distraction: the decorative art, the spectacle art. And the ringleader keeps luring you in: come see the art, come look at the art, come buy the art.
There is no art; the work somehow magically becomes sheer merchandise. Think about it—the art shown at the fairs is work specifically selected to move. Dealers are in fact hoping the art doesn’t come back with them. The galleries are not interested in taking risks; their biggest risk at this point is the financial burden of attending these expensive fairs, and they want to make their money back. So the art you’ll be seeing is safe art, two words that become an oxymoron when combined.
Still, I want to stress that one can find really phenomenal artworks at these fairs. A favorite piece (though I never got the name of the artist) was at a very crowded satellite fair in a big tent. The piece was on the outside wall of a booth; a crudely put-together cardboard replica of a Donald Judd wall-shelf sculpture. I don’t know why, but that’s always stuck out for me. I guess it was refreshing amid all the bronze, gold, steel, fiberglass, manufactured and fabricated… I guess the simplicity of it was soothing to me and playful enough to catch me off guard, yet paid homage to the great artist that invented it.
I liked that. It felt like art to me.
If I only see one thing at this fair in Miami, like the faux Donald Judd that left a lasting impression, maybe that will be good enough. In a place where collectors are chasing that last edition, dealers are pushing the newest fad, artists are trying out their comedy acts, all I can say is: Ladies and Gentlemen, Let the circus begin! Miami, here we come.