Twenty Twenty Projects is an alternative exhibition space located in Miami´s Wynwood Art District that was created to showcase emerging artists who have chosen to work outside of the traditional gallery system. Since its founding by Scott Murray in 2006, the gallery has hosted 18 shows and has been written about in publications such as the New York Times, Art Papers, ArtUS and The Miami Herald.
With its $20,000 from the Knight Arts Partnership Twenty Twenty Projects will provide a free booth at a fair during Art Basel Miami Beach 2009 and 2010 for the purpose of solo presentations by emerging Miami based artists. Murray believes that cost of participating in Miami’s premier art fairs often forces artists to compromise the integrity of their art, hampering experimentation. By removing the financial duress associated with exhibition at fairs, Murray hopes to encourage the two artists selected to present their most creative, perhaps least salable work. We interviewed Murray to find out more:
To what ends will your funding be used?
The funding is strictly for producing an exhibition in one of the art fairs in Miami during Basel. It is to promote local artists and to make it so that the show at the booth does not have to be commercial in nature which will immediately sets the Twenty Twenty booth apart from any other booth in the fair.
So your funding will not be used to facilitate improvements to the gallery, either physical or administrative?
No. There have already been administrative changes with the gallery based on this grant though. I finally have a reason to keep a budget and document all production costs! Up until now, it has strictly been my money that I have been blowing and so I have never had to be as attentive with my expenses. There are pretty strict financial parameters with this grant money.
In the past has the lack of funding swayed Twenty Twenty Projects to present more conventional exhibitions in the hope of selling more work?
No. The projects here have always happened as per the artists intentions and based around the concepts established in the curation. Many many artists here in Miami make great, concept driven work that is also salable and when that is the case and the occasion arises, I show it. I am not going to lie about this, I want stuff to sell. The artists need the money and so does the gallery but the possibility of a sale has never influenced my decision making in relation to the content of the shows. If I wanted this to be a completely non commercial space then I would make it a not for profit gallery. I like to sell things and I like interacting with collectors but I do not sell out. I would never show something just because of its salability or accessibility. I want people to buy the work because they want to own these precious things that make you think. In the meantime, it is about telling EVERYBODY why these things are precious. The work that I show here always has multiple layers to it and sometimes it takes a bit of extra research or some alternative understanding about why the work is good in order to enjoy it.
Twenty Twenty Projects has always presented the strongest emerging Miami artists. Its reputation is built upon it. Now that it has the means are you tempted to emulate neighboring spaces’ initiatives to bring artists from outside of Miami? If so how do you foresee this will shape Twenty Twenty’s character?
I have always intended to include artists from outside of Miami in shows here when it makes sense. It is important for any gallery here in Miami to maintain a dialogue between what our local artists are doing and what is happening in the international art world. My Knight Foundation project is specifically motivated towards promoting local artists and the international dialogue that will happen with the shows I put together using the grant money will be based around our booths juxtaposition with the other non local booths in the fair surrounding it. If my intention was to emulate neighboring spaces’ initiatives to bring artists from outside of Miami it would make the space less incestual. I want this to happen, but it’s not about money or a lack of artist resources. It’s about an understanding that this is a small pond and it is important to draw connections between these local artists and the greater international scene.
Do you have any plans to expand?
Yes. Big, big and practically impossible plans. That is what helps me fall asleep at night.
Finally, do you have a fair or fairs in mind for the location of the booths?
I have been very impressed with NADA but I am still doing research. Everything in the world might be fucked by that point anyway. If it is I have plan B [.]
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of the U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. The Knight Foundation Arts Partnership is a five-year, $40 million initiative to transform the South Florida arts. The effort includes endowment grants to leading arts institutions, plus a community-wide contest to fund the best arts ideas.