Simple pleasures, lonely recording studios, dull mirrors, quiet suicides, bad debts, the theater and its double. In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni (2008) by COOPER. Wood, oilseed blackboard paint, plaster, resin, cotton, acrylics, steel, concrete, soil, foam, copper, paper, epoxy and various hardware. Variable dimensions (approx. 20” x 10” x 12”).
Two weeks ago today one of Miami’s biggest art exports, Hernan Bas opened his first New York museum show at the Brooklyn Museum. One week ago today Miami’s number one creepy vaudeville exponent Clifton Childree further galvanized Miami’s place on the contemporary art map by appearing on the front of the Times Art section with his Pulse Pier 40 installation “Miamuh Swamp Adventure.” One week from today, the members of the art public who don’t read ARTLURKER will learn for the first time that an exciting New York group show comprised of all Miami artists is scheduled to open on April 4th. Miami it seems is representing well.
Featuring work by Daniel Arsham, Clifton Childree, COOPER, Naomi Fisher, Jason Hedges, Nicolas Lobo, Gean Moreno, Federico Nessi, Daniel Newman and Matthew Schreiber, the new exhibition entitled “Miami Noir” promises to offer up an earnest portrait of the city via a disquieting selection of work by those who, owing to their intimacy with the locale, have always seen Miami’s vacationland attributes for what they really are: a thin veneer of glamour and pleasure masking an uglier, ultimately more interesting truth.
Dirty Hand (2008) by Naomi Fisher. Metallic c-print mounted on Plexiglas. 40” x30”.
The exhibition will showcase works that were either made in accordance with lengthy discussions between the artists and curator, Miami art scene veteran Adriana Farietta, or hand picked from the participants existing portfolios because they fit the theme – in some cases, a mixture of both. But what of the influence of the city’s checkered past upon its contemporary culture? Speaking on the subject of whether Miami art is ostensibly “noir” Farietta states: “Miami has so much history! I remember Westen Charles (co-founder of Locust Projects) showing me old slave quarters that are not only standing, but currently inhabited (close to the Publix on 52nd street). When I first moved to Miami I was amazed at how it all worked. I wouldn’t necessarily call all the artists in the show “noir.” Some of the work references old “noir” themes while others reference contemporary Miami culture.” She adds: “ABMB made a few galleries stand out as well as a handful of artists, however, the same collectors exist. The artists that decide to stay in Miami might be choosing a nicer lifestyle, but will not have access to opportunities with curators, museum directors and gallerists outside of the handful that exist in Miami.”
It Gets Worse (2009) Written, produced, directed, edited, & filmed by Clifton Childree. Played by Clifton Childree except Monkey Boy by Nikki Rollason. Music by Laundry Room Squelchers. 16mm. 32 minutes.
So it would seem that this show is a good deal for all parties. Aside from the obvious benefits to the gallery, the artists, who despite their talent and rich cultural vocabulary might not otherwise thrive, get to enjoy higher visibility. But hang on; doesn’t that sound a little patronizing? Sure it does, but as unfair as that might be it is kind of true. The main advantage in this case then seems to rest with the artists, unless of course Miami art as a ‘product’ has a specific appeal or aesthetic. Perhaps on the gradient of contemporary culture Miami’s novelty as a locus of cultural production is considered hot or edgy – the title of the exhibition certainly points to the latter – or perhaps the organizers who clearly place some importance on Miami and its artists are simply looking to beef up their roster.
Co-owner of IE Benjamin Tischer comments: “Part of the foundation of IE is that we would actively seek to remain small. Risa and I saw a trend where galleries would take on too many artists, and as a consequence were unable to really truly represent their needs. At this time we are only working long-term with a small group of artists, all of which are based in New York at least part of the year. We talk to them all constantly, see them and know what is going on. This may change in the future, but we want to be very “mom-and-pop.” The Miami show stays true to this in that Adriana is a friend of the gallery, someone we see on a regular basis and enjoy.” Co-owner Risa Needleman adds: “We don’t really discriminate in terms of artist location. We like to have relationships with people from all over. In terms of representing artists, we never really want to have a large roster. We’re keeping the artists we represent to a minimum but love collaborating with lots of great people.”
Street Level (1) (2009) by Daniel Arsham. Gouache on Mylar. 18” x 26”
So even though this exhibition does not appear to be a fishing trip (Unlike “Miami Nice”organized in Paris by Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin and currated by George Lindemann) the fact that a New York gallery would consider presenting an all Miami show speaks volumes. On a grand scale this could be seen as a true indication of how important New York, its galleries, and those that curate in them consider Miami and its artists to be or rather how far Miami artists have come (recently) in the estimations of the wider art community. However, deflating this supposition Benjamin Tisher made the following comment: “There was a recent panel discussion at the Renaissance Society in Chicago about what a Chicago artist is. My friend, the artist and curator Philip von Zweck took part but we both joked about how ridiculous the question was. Good art does not depend so much on geography.”
(As yet untitled tiled mural) (2009) by Federic Nessi
As we suspected all along: it’s not where you are, it’s what you’re doing. With such reasonable notions afoot in the World’s art centers it seems quite ridiculous how much Miami as a city yearns for attention, craves notoriety, and fears isolation. It’s almost as if someone down here is keeping count of individual successes in an effort to present a winning argument that Miami, despite its obscurity and reputation for superficiality is in fact a celebrated nucleus of artistic eminence. If so, they are clearly wasting their time. As we have seen, effort will always be rewarded irrespective of location so there seems little point in the veneration of a city. That said, Miami is a gem of a place and if we can expect anything from this exhibition it is that the artists (talented buggers that they all are) will eke out insightful vignettes from their colorful yet profoundly dark existences in this incongruous place furthering both their own and incidentally the city’s reputations[.]
INVISIBLE-EXPORTS is a gallery dedicated to superior conceptual work. IE is located in the Lower East Side, at 14A Orchard Street, just north of Canal. The hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11-6:30pm, and by appointment. For more information, call 212 226 5447 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Miami Noir curator Adriana Farietta works at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in Brooklyn, NY. She previously worked for Scope Art Fair, Locust Projects in Miami, Florida and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, CA. She has curated and produced exhibitions in Miami, New York City and the Hamptons.
For more information please visit: www.invisible-exports.com