The Apex Predators themselves, all decked out in teeth.

The Apex Predators themselves, all decked out in teeth.


Fantich & Young; Swizz Beats takes No Commission; Pulse Art Fair; Disco Nights

Woke up at 7:30 EST, which means 4:30 PST. I flew here several days ahead of festivities because a.) I wanted to spend lots of time with my high school BFF, Ashley and b.) to get on the local time. Objective “b” has not been attained. My alarm was set early so I could catch the Apex Predator show, produced by Barrett Barrera Projects in the Wynwood district. I had a plus-4, but arrived with only a plus-1. Understandable. Much wine was consumed by all the night before, and mornings are hard enough in our home-time zones.

Upon arrival at the gallery, we were greeted with champagne, Bellinis, breakfast, and teeth. So many molars and incisors, so painstakingly placed.

Seriously, this body of work is a testament to obsession and craft. I’d like to go out on a limb and say it’s a testament to partnership, too. The exhibition is the product of Marina Fantich and Dominic Young, a London-based couple who make art together using the moniker Fantich & Young. Apex Predator is a project that’s an outgrowth of what they call “Darwinian Voodoo,” inspired by the 2008 financial crisis.

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The work is very provocative, conceptual and thoughtful. As I took in the different objects and adverts produced for this show, I kept thinking to myself that this the physical embodiment of what it means to be at the top of the food chain. And I don’t want to aspire to it. Kudos to the married art couple that stays together and makes it work.

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The Apex Predators themselves, all decked out in teeth.

From there, we headed to No Commission, hip hop producer Swizz Beats’ brainchild—an event-based platform that facilitates direct sales; not a gallery in sight. First of all, I just want y’all to know that not only is Renee Cox showing work there, I met her and she let me take a selfie with her.

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Renee Cox and meeeee!

You have no idea how much that moment meant to me. There were so few black female conceptual photographers way back when I was studying the discipline, so she and Lorna Simpson were like beacons of light to me.

Back to the No Commission fair. I hesitate to call it a fair, though. It was more like a marriage of thoughtful fine art curation, high concept design, and high concept event production, with Bacardi as the marquee sponsor. Any other production company, and this would have rung false, gauche and insider-y; No Commission is none of those things, thanks to curator Nicola Vassell. And the panel discussion moderated by Anne Pasternak—the Shelby White and Leon Levy Director of the Brooklyn Museum—and featuring Virgil Abloh, Swizz Beatz, Kimberley Drew, Hyphen-Labs and Nora Khan, shed a lot of light into why that is. What it boils down to is this: Swizz Beats ultimately got his Harvard MBA in order to build this platform for artists to sell their work with absolutely no commission taken out of the sales. No Commission functions as a dealer of sorts, providing a market experience to those seeking to purchase.

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Michael Vasquez: Gimnasio de Boxeo (Niños de Cuba), 2017

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MIAMI, FL – DECEMBER 07: A view of the cigar rolling lounge at the VIP Preview of BACARDI, Swizz Beatz And The Dean Collection Bring NO COMMISSION Back To Miami To Celebrate ‘Island Might” at Soho Studios on December 7, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for BACARDI)

So what’s in it for Swizz and Bacardi, monetarily? I have no clue. There are no tickets for sale to their daytime and evening events; everything is RSVP only, no transactions for attendees lucky enough to get in (it was like visiting the U.N. to get through security). They’re both made of money so I’m sure they’ll be fine. I’m not skeptical, I’m not suspicious—I’m just curious—because as someone who has worked in several different production roles when it comes to large-scale events, the amount of money invested in just one day of this pop-up could erase all my debt and pay my impending MFA tuition. By all accounts, each of the previous pop ups in other cities were successful. Maybe the money is made through transaction fees once a purchase is made. In the meantime, I’m rooting for the concept, corporate sponsorship and all. Nothing about this felt gross, which is more than I can say for some experiences I’ve had at a few traditional galleries and museums.

Next, Pulse Art Fair. I’ll tell you this about “doing” Miami Art Week: there’s no sense in harboring FOMO about anything, there’s too much happening all around you. Make your plan and keep in mind that it may unravel, probably for the better. We meant to join in on the Young Collector’s Cocktail Hour, but we were too late. Whatevs. We still got a chance to take in the North and South Halls.


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Works on paper by Amanda Manitach and embroidered bras by Zoe Buckman in the Winston Wächter Fine Art booth

After Pulse, we headed back to our condo for a disco nap before the “Blexcellence” party in South Beach. It was a disco party, and I love disco dancing, and since I rarely get a chance to go out anymore, I made dance-floor ownership my top priority. There are no pictures and there is no video because if you want to see that, you need to call my agent. While there, I got a chance to have a conversation with a New York-based collector who works for Swiss Bank, I gave his the quick and dirty lowdown on what living, working and practicing in LA is like: workworkworkworkwork for little pay, but if you don’t have kids and you’re disciplined and focused on your goals, the rewards are sweet. I ran into and danced with LA-based artist Miles Regis (I’m seeing that guy everywhere now!), and I spotted Renee Cox again—her afro was poppin’.

We’re not spring chickens anymore, so we quit at around 1 a.m., headed home, and passed out. Next, I’m looking forward to Art Basel Miami Beach, NADA Art Fair, and a party at the Wolfsonian Museum. Stay tuned…

PS. a significant portion of this was written in the backseat of an Uber on the way to Pulse. I love the 21st century.