A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

The Collabo Show


Organized by Miami artists Bhakti Baxter and Jason Hedges, The Collabo Show, the third in a series of biannual collaboration themed group shows that began in 2005 – the first being Co Operate at Bas Fisher Invitational, the last being Confluence at Fredric Snitzer Gallery – is divergent from its predecessors in the respect that this highly anticipated labor intensive smorgasbord is, at least this time around, a one-night-only event. Notwithstanding the parochial airs surrounding a city that on one hand boasts status as a burgeoning art center and on the other manages to show a not insignificant portion of its artists under one roof, much less for one night only, we proceed to review this exhibition with the assumption that such events are a rarefied privilege of, if not an outwardly progressive community, then at the very least a diverse and tightly knit one.


As with previous collaborative shows from the Baxter/Hedges think tank last night’s exhibition held at 85 NW 71st street in a warehouse owned by Miami Spaces demonstrated Miami’s artistic virility. However, unlike previous collaborative shows, specifically Confluence (2007) at Fredric Snitzer Gallery where works by Miami luminaries were expediently hawked by the copious benefactors and would-be profiteers that breezed around aghast at the presence of Bert Rodriguez raw penis, this years show, located in a warehouse space as opposed to a commercial gallery, drew a comparatively low-brow crowd and by association appeared to turn very little if any profit. But from what we understand of these collaboration shows they are not about making money – so much is abundantly clear – so what then is affected and what does last night’s event suggest of Miami arts and future such happenings?


Unexpectedly, whilst The Collabo Show was almost certainly more about spectacle and festivity than art work, it inadvertently revealed a pervasive and, depending on which side your bread is buttered, a sad truth that would seem to be an unavoidable stigma of geography. For as much as we strive to counterbalance the commonly held view that Miami is a party destination with the propagation of culture, the overwhelming and in certain circumstances suffocating enthusiasm that Miami’s art crowd has for revelry is indicative of a mob hopelessly fixated on good times.


The fact that art is now the excuse, that high culture has, at least in some parts of town, supplanted club culture or even volleyball is largely irrelevant. At openings there are Dj’s and bars and throngs of people who whether invested in the arts or not are too busy socializing to pay attention to the work. Usually this is not so much of an issue as one can always go back to a show after an opening, but when a show is open for one night only and filled with work made with that in mind then the event overshadows the notion of exhibition and we would do well to question whether something is being overlooked or what set of priorities are predominant. In this respect the art work, save for evidencing the wonderful camaraderie of Miami’s art community, is rendered irrelevant, the event itself is the statement, a new business model. It is presumed that Art Basel did wonders for this city, but in reality, in addition to making art more about money and less about art, the fair served to galvanized the party destination status that anyone who is seriously trying make work is currently trapped under, silently drowning like a seal beneath ice.


Whatever you thought of the show, and whatever parts of this text are accentuated by your biases, the simple fact remains that when left to its devices this is what Miami art can be. By being honest, by allowing artists to develop their methodologies and by existing beyond the confines of an institution this collaboration show succeeded in encapsulating the authentic, yet ever changing essence of Miami’s art community, which apart from developing its own brand of exhibition is currently finding fertile ground beyond Wynwood[.]


This post was contributed by Thomas Hollingworth.


  • I was there

    It is interesting that peoples ideas of the city are colored by their limited time in the city. There is a history in Miami that goes beyond the year 2000, or when you, Snitzer or Art Basel arrived.
    In fact we had parties/events/drug induced binges every week for years at an abandoned theater on Lincoln Road, it was dubbed the Institute and it’s function was to bring artistic projects, installations, music and fashion to the masses. It was dangerous, hot, dark and loud.

  • Andy WhoreWall

    And don’t forget Art Asylum at the Cameo which predates the Institute. Talk about invention, the Institute used gigantic fans and huge blocks of ice to cool the space. What fun, But, Art Lurker has a point about this exhibition. It could have been called “One Night Stand”. I too would have appreciated the chance to go back and visit, because the party atmosphere was way too distracting. But in this age of multi-tasking, multi-media and attention deficit disorder, contemplation takes a back-seat. On second thought, contemplation is buried somewhere beneath the spare tire in the trunk.

  • Zapata

    The length and nature of this event is a valid critique, personally I can’t imagine the morning after being the same amazing spectacle. If art must be a party here, catering for promiscuity and A.D.D, perhaps the beauty of the event was in its honesty a wise attempt to attract and educate any untapped interest in the arts. However, the contextual connotations of this event, art within a mob of drunken drivers, are mainly manifested in writing (this post as far as I know). The actual show, which offered no text, was more a reflection of the monster than a critique, with little trace of a theoretical thread of progressive collaboration.

  • Andy WhoreWall

    re: Zapata “The actual show, which offered no text, was more a reflection of the monster than a critique, with little trace of a theoretical thread of progressive collaboration.”
    Well put.

  • Stop Miami Danny

    I got to have some great conversations with artists about their thoughts as well as about their work. That was worth the price of admission. I agree that Wynwood is in danger of becoming a trademark more than a arts district, so it is great to see other nabes like Little Haiti taking up the slack. (Maybe downtown is next?) Sorry that there were no ‘raw penises’ here for you to be mock-shocked at, but on the other hand, I did get to meet Dick.

  • Richard Haden

    I liked the BMX ramps and the pisser best. The BMX performance was the perfect example of the “Hermeneutics circle” which is made of three modes of temporality which goes as follows–for having, for sight, and for concept–in other words a hermeneutical circle–a tautology. Now when the ramp appeared to need fixing–it broke– it became a variant of the resolute return of the circle…or as is similar to what Focault called–the “Hermeneutic of suspicion”—which is to say the danger of its improved authentic danger was covered up…

    Just thought I’d throw in a bit of theory into the mix, to off set the mnemonic effect of the overall shared witnessing of a pretty damn good spectacle.

    Oh yes, The pisser. I must congratulate its makers for also making something philosophically profound. However this unique situational construction was not to do with a hermeneutic circle. Instead, its merits are better explains by Hegelian dialectics…the beer traveled from one vessel Keg– with its possibilities contained with in to a cup container which in mediation let its content pass into and through the body which through its bodily own processed and sublated one part of the original substance but let the rest fall into another container of yet another kind of mattering altogether.

  • Vagina Hole

    I just popped in town from Greece. Miami seems like a smart place. It makes me want to stick around in here. I can’t believe how much art/girls were there! I wish I could get head while taking a shit.

  • warm piss

    Who gives two turds if there are no labels on the walls or collectors rushing the work or too festive an atmosphere to contemplate upside down jelly fish or a guy in a suit fanning himself to death. Ultimately, one is responsible for directing thought while the bombardment of stimulus on the senses begs for another beer. If anyone cared (and thanks Danny for being courageous enough to converse with the artists) there was much to be gained. The article did little to highlight the potential of an “Art” experience and instead focused on miami being a party town, which of course it is. In short, the art does not abound or lack in intellect but in the mind of the viewer.

  • Ali Mac

    Yes, this article focuses on Miami being a party town, but it also praises the show for being authentic which I think important. Its tough to say if the work demonstrated the full potential of the artists as it was made for a one night only show. In that sense its not really possible to judge the work which is probably why the article doesnt. If anything the work was safe in that setting and safe in Miami where there is little criticality aside from this blog. Personally I think we should all be working hard to get greater exposure for Miami and the criticism that comes of it. Or perhaps we should all just ‘chillax’ with a beer and allow development or redundancy to take its course. If noone cares that the rest of the art world is laughing at us then what does it matter anyway?

  • Ali Mac

    At many openings I have been to in Miami the art acts more like party decoration and those involved in organizing the shows act more like hosts than artists or curators. But, as the article points out, this show was more about the event than trying to compare to a gallery shows. As it says its like a new business model. The way the art worlds economy is at the moment it might not be a bad idea to try condensing shows to one night of partying if gallerys can charge for cover and drinks.

  • Gallery bitch

    Miami is known across the globe of being the place for great art parties, but not great art.

  • Zapata

    Do we expect everyone to understand what a “Hermeneutic of suspicion” in its application to art should look like? If I’m not mistaken, a theory like that is in no way specific to a ramp and therefore applicable to any simple machine, or anything really because its just the state of being overly critical…the theory is so malleable and great, its even applicable to the Miami art scene. If the ramp would have a small text (or label) – then it would be about the theory and leave room for everyone to direct their thoughts towards its application in bigger matters beyond the ramp. Isn’t that the point?

    A better moment producing its own spectacles, while sensitive to the intellect, theme, and budget, was the juxtaposition of a stool, colored transparencies, a rock, a fan, and direct light. Effective with no need for explanation.

  • implants

    Why is there public interest in art? Why is there public interest in parties? This event was effective in bringing people together and making some of them question what they are doing and who they are. Whether as a result of any one artist or the situation as a whole it seemed like a step towards real (perhaps painful) growth and a changing sense of community in this city.

  • Harvel Whippleman

    It would’ve been cool if there were more cohesion or some kind of unifying factor to the whole show, or if the beer had lasted longer.

  • Mr. Everybody

    What’s wrong with having a good time in the name of art?
    Only time will tell how the miami art scene plays out.
    Hope to see more.

  • Richard Haden


    Well Zapatta, you may be correct in your critique that such esoteric terms like Hermeneutics, are not relevant to your normal vocabulary… however the point of introducing such terms in conversations is to broaden your understanding of other ways that art is understood or talked about–both in the visual and literary arts. If you research the term you learn. You learn about other applications of theory that exist along side the way of artistic thinking. [here's another term that's good to be familiar with--ontics] Which is to say that for many the normal contextual way of viewing art is by its ontics– instead of its relational meaning. Ontics is just another word for talking about the properties of things–like color, texture, form and so on. And I’m sure you already know about relational aesthetics and so on.

    Understanding other ways to name things is never a bad thing especially if you talk about art with people beyond your normal comfort zone.

    What’s a blog for if not to learn…That all.

  • Party Critic

    I’m seriously shocked by a lot of the criticisms this event has been receiving because as a party the evening fell totally flat. I arrived on the scene at around 10:00 pm with 3 young, attractive, not mention, sexy and desperate female friends, neither of whom got laid. Not only did they not get laid, they were barely approached by any potential suitors. They complained that all of the men were uninteresting and dull. The free beer was nice, but let’s face it, standard fare for any art functions. This event brought nothing new to the table, offering the same-old-same-old Grolsch beer you find everywhere else in Miami. I’d have been more impressed if they’d had a fruit punch bowl spiked with LSD, or at least some hard liquor. Not to mention that the beer had run dry by 11:30 or so, when most serious partyers are only starting to leave the house. One very hot-looking blond even offered to fellate anyone at the party with access to the fabled secret beer stash with absolutely no takers. While there was a steady stream of attractive women to be had, most of them only stayed for the length of a beer (who could blame them) and on to the next party. Everyone kept their clothes on, no property was destroyed, and the cops treated the affair with same indifference they would have one of your grandma’s tea parties. I myself barely caught a buzz. If Miami wants to live up to its reputation as a party town then we’d better step up our game!

  • Zapata


    How presumptuous. I am delighted that the term came up. My critique was less about the reputed elitist-ness of the vocabulary or the source of its actual use. Beyond aesthetics – the quality and availability of the conceptual interpretation in the DNA of the work was rather provincial (without taking away from the talent behind it and spectacle it created). The “hermeneutic circle” is a fancy word for “part to whole” which can be materialized with practically anything. Yes – one way or another everyone will think – parts to whole…the point is who cares unless there is a relationship to something substantial (contextual, historical, or Utopian)… there is a difference between reflecting a concept and using it critically, no matter what prosthetic vocabulary you might attach to it.

    Perhaps the work was meant to serve solely as a spectacle, reinforcing the point of this post – in which case I’m just being critical of your interpretation.

  • Puppy Cat

    relax the bikers were bikers, circular track a logic like pong, I dont know where haden gets any other dimensions. spectacular? merely live.

    “the danger of its improved authentic danger was covered up…” so the colabo “show succeeded in encapsulating the authentic, yet ever changing essence of Miami’s art community”

    fix the ramp, go higher

  • Zapata

    arguably blind and continuous micro fixing without proper macro analysis for the sole purpose of going higher and higher only to realize the shaky foundation its come to depend on, ultimately becoming less credible than before

  • Puppy Cat

    Does credibility matter in Miami? Would you want credit for something you did here? at collabo? Isnt our art scene an embarrassment on the macro scale? Miami is far from having the life implied in a hermeneutic circle, even our party scene that wears the clothing to look cultured lacks the micro fixes that builds the velocity for centripetal force to make a circle.

    maybe credibility isn’t necessary here, in which case maybe there’s some kind of freedom to be had with our micro fixes and we do not need to be worried about the macro analysis. maybe if there were even more micro concerns we could build something to analyze on the macro scale.

  • Richard Haden

    Miami’s, credibility is growing from a small group. “Puppy” seems to have a better take on the Hermeneutic. Zapata, you left out the temporal part which is the History and the contextual. The Hermeneutic circle is just that…a context in historical perspective that is bracketed by a horizon. But as you say–”from a particular thing to a whole”. But that whole is the relationship that goes back to the particular–the circular part. Not the coiled type of Hegel assent.

    Any way you look at it is is good to see the dialog improving on the ARTLURKER blog. Now just keep it up, Zap and Pup. I don’t know what’s up with the party critic. Reads like the G string is digging in too tight.

  • I was there

    This is how it sound to me:

    Well-being blind and continuous micro-macro setting without analysis for the purpose, more and more precarious for its establishment depends on the end less and less credible in terms of credibility beforeDoes Miami? If you want a little credit you have here? on cooperation? Isn’t our stage discomfort on the macroeconomic level? Miami is far from living in a hermeneutic circle implied, including our Party-scene, the clothes not on culture micro solves, the speed of centripetal to a circle. Credibility is perhaps not necessary here, in this case, perhaps there is a kind of freedom is our micro-fixes and we should not be concerned about the macro-analysis. Perhaps, if there is more problems of micro-we build something to analyze, on the macro-scale.Miami ‘s credibility develops from a small group. “Puppy” seems to focus on hermeneutics. Zapata, you exit the calendar, history and context menu. The hermeneutic circle is that … a context in a historical perspective, in a horizon of parentheses. But as you say, “a case to a whole”. But the point is the circular relationship to the specific part. Not the kind of roles Hegel agreement. It’s like you, it is nice to see the dialogue on improving the ARTLURKER Blog. Now you just have to continue, and Zap Pup. I do not know what is the critical part. Reads as the G-String in the gap is too narrow.

    Wake up! it was only a one night EVENT which included art work and performances created by groups of two or more people [Some working outside of their comfort zone]
    People were invited, people attended, people enjoyed themselves. End of story.
    It would be interesting if you used some of your energy to comment on more of the specific works/efforts and not deconstruct each others vocabularies.

  • Zapata

    Undesirable extremes must be well covered. These conversations of many scales are deeply enjoyed; the success of this particular work (the ramp) is very clear in its strength to spark questions within the most important topics (the future of Miami), at a point in time when it is most critical (now)…the historical and contextual references have come to light and opened the table for the best part (the utopian particle), where the road splits in half – either it continues to fix the details (wardrobe, funds and quality of beer, size, status, which by all means may inspire stronger work), or scale back and strategize the urban moves (whatever that can be – event mission statements – conversations like these prior to the event – relationships between shows – relationships between art here and art everywhere else) …if there was a social apparatus efficient enough, that road split can turn into a highway, and have it all.

  • Richard Haden

    I was there,

    Miami was built on fill. Miami was a swamp. Flagler and some other yahoo’s built a train that brought more people to fill the swamp. The swamp got filled up–people show up because people are already good at showing up… But since the fill has filled up, surely there is more to say than that. As you say: “People were invited, people attended, people enjoyed themselves. End of story”. I can see you don’t need more explanation than that. But many people are deeper than that. There is the other force called centrifugal, which when the shit “misses” the fan it causes people to leave Miami for the lack of uncommon or unique things to show up for. A more serious arts community is good for Miami—For those who are not just satisfied with the mediocrity of merely showing up.

    I was there–but why not be there in conversation above the spectacle. The spectacle is just a rallying place–a possible loud salon.

  • 2020

    Doesn’t the idea of hermeneutics depend solely on the understanding of a structure that can be understood? The structure of this project is based solely on interaction between artists who by nature try to deviate from structure entirely. Isn’t this project strictly about their interactions, self satisfactorily avoiding any of the parameters that the art system (that they are forced to subject themselves to) requires of them? It is strictly about their collaboration.

  • 2020

    Also, wasn’t the show about anonymity and having no strong representation of the individual, with no branding?

  • Richard Haden


    I originally used the BMX installation as the symbol for a hermeneutic interpretation. The track and the performance was significant in that the piece was based on direct or “factical” experience by both the viewers and the makers of the work. The piece succeeded in its redundancy…it spun the viewers and makers into a situation, that resonated with me a suspicion regarding whether the damn thing was safe (artisan capabilities) but I was not suspicious of the quality of direct experience. It displayed that with little doubt.

    Below is a link to a short History of Hermeneutics:

    The term hermeneutics covers both the first order art and the second order theory of understanding and interpretation of linguistic and non-linguistic expressions. As a theory of interpretation, the hermeneutic tradition stretches all the way back to ancient Greek philosophy. In the course of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, hermeneutics emerges as a crucial branch of Biblical studies. Later on, it comes to include the study of ancient and classic cultures.
    With the emergence of German romanticism and idealism the status of hermeneutics changes. Hermeneutics turns philosophical. It is no longer conceived as a methodological or didactic aid for other disciplines, but turns to the conditions of possibility for symbolic communication as such. The question “How to read?” is replaced by the question, “How do we communicate at all?” Without such a shift, initiated by Friedrich Schleiermacher, Wilhelm Dilthey, and others, it is impossible to envisage the ontological turn in hermeneutics that, in the mid-1920s, was triggered by Martin Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit and carried on by his student Hans-Georg Gadamer. Now hermeneutics is not only about symbolic communication. Its area is even more fundamental: that of human life and existence as such. It is in this form, as an interrogation into the deepest conditions for symbolic interaction and culture in general, that hermeneutics has provided the critical horizon for many of the most intriguing discussions of contemporary philosophy, both within an Anglo-American context (Rorty, McDowell, Davidson) and within a more Continental discourse (Habermas, Apel, Ricoeur, and Derrida).

  • david rohn

    oh well at least nobody can saythat Miami has lost it s energy, that it s artists make pretentious /ponderous minimalist conceptualist crap, ot that we re just all aboout money and art world glory- because there was none of that at this event.
    There was plenty of raw energy,visceral involvement and communality.
    I found it more real and more useful than basel Miami any day – and I congratulate at least a large part of our community for having survived being the place where Baasel is the biggest deal in town relatively virgo intacto.
    Let s face it the worldliness of the ‘art-world’ (or art market now that those trms are more or less interchangeable) isn t necessarily the best thing for art.

  • Legit

    Regarding your last paragraph, I wish to know what you think “the authentic, yet ever changing essence of Miami’s art community” is, as well as what exactly “Miami art can be”. Though you did mention both in your text, I feel that these ideas were not specifically addressed by your text.

  • 2020

    Obviously hermeneutics should be addressed with the piece, the show, and with art in general. Are you talking about the idea that unpredictability is part of the piece? I appreciate the vocabulary being brought up but in a lot of ways this word is understood (even if unconsciously) while addressing all art. To put it in perspective, I didn’t attend the event but I did see the show the day before. When I saw the object/ramp, I immediately assumed that it implied a ramp, but was doubtful that it could possibly be used for that. The fact that it was used that way, speaks towards the fact that risk is a part of this piece and that risk is a part of the artist’s everyday recreational activities, they are comfortable with this. A ramp of any kind speaks towards risk, I suppose? An incline is symbolic, right? Starting from a low place and ending in a high one, right? And a high place is always a risk, physically because of gravity. But the idea of this impossible incline, that implied a ramp, that to me meant something different because of what it physically was, the implication of a practically unusable, eagle/flag ramp (sort of), was enough for me. It looked awesome and implied some possible deft defying event (that ended up happening.) I hope someone got an insurance plan for the show and I try not to think like that.

  • 2020

    and on and on but for the most part with no immediate understanding of the possibility of a threat to me (accept for Brandon’s bar).

  • look

    Hey there! I’m at work browsing your blog from my
    new iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog
    and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the outstanding work!

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The Collabo Show