Justin H. Long enjoying tips from LARDASS at The Youth Fair, Bro.
We interrupt our regular Wednesday coverage of “Cleopatra’s: Trade Secrets” at John Connelly Presents in New York to report on “The Youth Fair, Bro,” a kinetic installation from the self professed mechanical geniuses Meatball and Justin H. Long that took place in Miami this Second Saturday’s Art Walk.
The Fair, (commonly referred to as the Youth Fair or the Miami Dade Youth Fair), to which “The Youth Fair, Bro” pays a touching tribute, is a carnival that arrives annually to South Miami courtesy of Miami Dade County Fair and Exposition, inc. With the slogan “Be There, Be Fair” it presents itself as a happening and courteous day out for the whole family. In the Nineties, however, The Fair was a notorious breeding ground for adolescent vice.
With the fair now in the hands of a corporate enterprise which has squeezed all but every scintilla of danger from it, Meatball and Justin H. Long decided to recreate with carnival style catering, neck-breaking custom-built rides and a plentiful mix of house, metal, booty and siren courtesy of DJ’s Juan and Benton what was for them, and many of their generation, a large influence in their formative youths.
Last January, in addition to a vulgar vodka dispensing ice sculpture the exhibition The Boyz of Bazel Present He-Men Woman Haterz Club at Carol Jazzar Contemporary Art featured a club house, the rickety ascent into which required the signing of a rather tongue in cheek, but no doubt serious and presumably necessary waiver absolving the gallery of responsibility in the event that patrons should chance to fall foul (no pun intended) of the experience. On this occasion, Justin H. Long (aka The Captain) was showing work (a kind of sex machine consisting of a varnished wooden housing from which a piston driven industrial rod hammered forth) and Meatball was dutifully in charge of getting waivers signed (incidentally wearing nothing but cut-off denim short shorts and Biro tattoos). Last Saturday, far beyond the meager extent of preying on the inability of overly domesticated (fat), out of practice (lazy) or just plain old art patrons to climb a ladder, the duo’s latest venture, “The Youth Fair, Bro”, was in every way something that only those of a youthful disposition and nerves of steel could stomach. Everyone else would probably have ran screaming for hills, much less made the effort to attend.
Entrance to “The Youth Fair, Bro” and The Gravitron.
A long glass fronted space (donated by Dacra) began with a ride called The Gravitron, a three man, man powered revolving circular platform tethered to the ceiling by a mount which toward the end of the night showed signs of stress and had to be shut down (ARTLURKER’s ride, the last one, was cut short when natural eccentricities which triumphed the week of extensive testing aimed at perfecting The Graitron’s balance became too pronounced for comfort). Beyond The Gravitron was a food stall aptly named ‘LARDASS’ where Justin H. Long was busy dispensing pop corn, Busch lager and funnel cakes – a quitessential component of any American fair, which true to form were made from what seemed to be made from a recipe of Belgian waffle mix and carny tears (an authentic lack of hairnets, gloves, and hand washing also appeared to be firmly enforced!) Climatically, through the cloud of icing sugar and burps and past a greasy floor strewn with spilled beer and public fair-style trash cans was ‘HIMALAYA’, a rollercoaster of insanity and trepidation where in revelers were pushed at frightening speeds on guillotined shopping carts around an implausibly dangerous assault course of ramps, bends and pitfalls by a scantily clad buck toothed neanderthal whose only warning was “Whatever you do keep your hands and feet in.”
LARDASS food stall.
HIMALAYA and DJ booth
Incredibly, apart from a few raw elbows, no-one was seriously harmed. We heard a few questioning remarks regarding public liability insurance, but considering of the severity of the risks at hand and America’s absurd legal system we figured that everything would be covered. As if often the case, however, we were wrong. Long informs: “There was no insurance at all for the show. I personally assumed the responsibility and made each attendee take their picture with a release that was written on the wall. It stated that the rides are dangerous and you are riding them at your own risk. We believe in taking responsibility for your actions. if you followed our rules you would be safe, if you want to be a daredevil then you need take the blame.” (Coincidentally, in the case of ARTLURKER’s ride, this formality was somehow overlooked).
Release waiver for The Gravitron.
The Youth Fair has been a staple for kids in Miami since anyone can seem to remember. As such anyone of who grew up in Miami can expect an immediate connection with the show. Sadly, the collective consciousness in respect of The Fair has been marred over the years by violence and crime in the form of gang fights and arms possession. However, refreshingly, “The Youth Fair, Bro” wasn’t about that at all, it was about nostalgia and building upon Long and Meatball’s own experience to create something completely new. “Our dress code” Long continues “came directly from our own personal memories of the Dade County Youth Fair. At it’s prime for me in the early Nineties, an airbrush shirt with your name or girlfriend’s name on it was about as cool as you could get. If you were truly awesome then you had Zubaz pants as well. Meatball chose to go another very popular route from the same era, the “head to toe acid wash.” Equally as cool but more from the rocker crowd.”
Justin H. Long sporting air brush t-shirt.
Tried of going to art shows and not being wowed, Long and Meatball’s main goal over and above the communication of their characteristically rough conceptual framework was to make a show that’s sole purpose was to knock socks off. With alternative titles for this post such as “Arty Farty Carny Malarkey” and “ARTLURKER killed by Meatball” hanging like bats in the eves of possibility it would seem that so far as this publication is concerned, they succeeded, and in doing so preserved not only life, but also an atmosphere which might have otherwise been lost forever.
The show, quite possibly the most memorable thing you will experience this month, will be up until the 30th of May. Appointments can be made to see the rides, however they will not be functional until the closing on the 30th[.]