Whirl Crash Go! at Locust Projects.
This past Saturday three exhibitions opened in Miami’s Design District: Hyperculture by Victor Muniz at Swamp Space, Whirl Crash Go! by the TM Sisters at Locust Projects, and What We Do Is Secret by Manny Prieres at Spinello Gallery.
In Hyperculture Victor Muniz offers a clue to understanding his new work. In a nutshell Hyperculture refers to the staggering rate of change in modern technological societies by which we are perpetually in a transient state between knowing and feeling whilst being bombarded with information. It is essentially an unchanging of nothing apart from systems of information and post-industrial structures.
Over the last few decades technology and information technology have not only become ubiquitous, but have also assumed a much broader function than was perhaps originally intended. Rather than merely bringing forth or revealing truth, technology has now taken upon itself the task of holding nature and knowledge as objects in “reserve’ and we are only now beginning to see technology collapsing under the weight of its inability to sustain the supply of natural resources required for its survival.
Victor Muniz. Image courtesy of Swamp Space.
On this subject Victor Muniz gives us what we expect, a well drafted and well crafted rendering of information over load! He packs the work with reference and wit and combs the beast of both cartoon and caricature genre with their own abstract metaphysical planes. The focal point of the exhibition, a paper and ink triptych, is actually a work in progress that will be show again when completed, possibly at his next show at the Hollywood Art and Culture Center in November.
Aptly sandwiched in between Hyperculture and What We Do Is Secret is the highly anticipated Whirl Crash Go! Much like What We Do Is Secret, Whirl Crash Go! is for its artists somewhat of a come back after a period of self initiated creative reflection.
After being chosen in 2008 to receive the second annual Hilger Artist Project Award the TM Sisters revealed little about their plans and kept a low profile. The result of this tantalizing behavior was that their performance, like that of Clifton Childree who received the first Hilger Artist Project Award in 2007, had people queuing around the block, many of whom were disappointed to find that they would have to wait until an impromptu encore at 10pm.
Beginning round of Whirl Crash Go! at Locust Projects. (Left) Monica Lopez De Victoria (Right) Tasha Lopez De Victoria.
The performance consisted basically of a dance off between The TM Sisters, but instead of dancing each battled to excel and impress upon each the other (and we the audience) their skillfulness in the execution of their chosen sport. For Tasha, an avid roller-skater, this was manifest in a skate circuit around the circumference of the space populated by herself and a team of cowled break dancing skaters (costumes by Karelle Levy), and for Monica, a synchronized swimmer, a pool and a troop of gold and black clad swimmers. The performance began and ended with warming displays of affection between the two collaborators and was accompanied throughout by sound art from Otto Von Schirach.
Tasha Lopez De Victoria performing Whirl Crash Go! at Locust Projects.
What is striking about this exhibition is the dedication to the perfomative element that people who continuously judge art by the past or judge it bound by its institutional confines cannot accept. Contrary to such people’s ways of approaching art there are in fact new authentic practices in art not limited to the commercial commodity. In under half an hour the stronghold of the elite fetishist trinket was undermined by a performance and installation based more on direct experience. Or at least it would have been if anyone in attendance had been able to focus.
Whirl Crash Go! installation view.
Regardless of possibly being an important stance for the understanding of what art (especially art in Miami) can be, Whirl Crash Go! came across as being more ‘cool’ than ‘interesting’ and failed audiences in so far as while it seemed that the intention was to involve them, the reality was that there were so many people crammed into a cordoned-off section of a roller-skating rink that the impression was absolutely one of confinement and restriction, not inclusion. As a result, the many aspects of the performance were unfortunately drowned behind a sea of straining heads and even aspects of the installation that some onlookers were intimate with, such as swings, visuals and dancers, either turned into obstacles or added to the frustration already aggravated by being cramped at high ambient temperatures. As one spectator said: “If I could have seen it I am sure I would have liked it.”
As it happened, the event became not unlike any other over crowed spectacle. There were simply too many people in attendance. Too many Hypercultural Chic line breaking art happening pedestrians all wanting to see what should have been an interesting mix of dangerous mirrors, hot pants, disco skating, abstract cinema and challenging choreography in a chest-high above-ground pool all wrapped into one tight package at Locust projects. Sadly all most got so see were fragments at best and in no way can any one describe the TM Sisters as being merely fragments.
At this point it is unclear what artifacts will remain on exhibition until the final repeat performance takes place on October 10th at 8pm, but for now the resounding complaint was ironically that the event had been ‘too popular.’
“Mended”, 2009. Graphite and watercolor on paper. 63” x 52.5”. Image courtesy of the artist and Spinello Gallery.
And finally (last but by no means least) in What We Do Is Secret the medium sized intricate drawings of artifacts associated with subculture and Cuban heritage – such as pocket knives, farming tools and sugar cane – arranged into configurations reminiscent of heraldry that typify Prieres’ work were as ever present, however with this exhibition the artist confidently expands his boundaries to include broader subject matter – although still steeped in personal history –, large scale works and even sculpture. Over two years in the making the laborious drawings in What We Do Is Secret pull in just the right amount of additional context and variety to compliment his established deftness for depicting natural and mechanical forms, firm up his conceptual framework and keep us wanting more.
What We Do Is Secret installation view.
Unlike Muniz’s proclaimed maniacal intention to render the basic banality of singular overburdened ‘now’, Prieres gives us many moments to wonder ‘how’. Where as Muniz’s content is about overcrowding due to a potential play with ‘Horror Vacui’ (fear of empty space or vacuum), Prieres gives us a reminder that traditional style can still be a smart way to get on with things.
Not only is it great to see Prieres’ giftedness rewarded in such a balanced showing, but also it is very refreshing to see the marriage of technical ability to tangible concerns. Presented here are well-crafted drawings that center around Hyper-real contemplations of skillful renderings of symbolically orchestrated compositions. While at times, Prieres reminds us that there can yet be a single world rendered in one picture that relates to another, he more or less gives us traditional horizons in the three fold mode of cultural histories: past, a relational present, and a past present looking forward to what’s next.
“Pentagram”, 2009. Graphite on paper. 30” x 22”. Image courtesy of the artist and Spinello Gallery.
Despite a long healthy relationship with Diana Lowenstien Fine Arts, Prieres left what could be described as a waning institution in favor of Spinello Gallery, a popular contemporary art space focused on local emerging talent. Perhaps one criticism of Prieres’ prior involvement with Diana Lowenstien, apart from a lack of killer solo shows, was that his work seemed out of place. Now however, much like Spinello Gallery itself that has moved four times in as many years, Prieres’ work appears to have finally found a home where it resonates with its surroundings.
“1963”, 2009. Graphite and watercolor on paper. 63” x 52.5”. Image courtesy of the artist and Spinello Gallery.
In one way or another all three of Saturday’s exhibitions deal with issues regarding technology and poetics (visual poetics), however, beyond individual critiques what is worth illuminating is the fact that each of these three exhibitions opened outside of Wynwood, officially the ‘Art District’, and not during Miami’s second Saturday art walk, officially the time exhibitions open – perhaps revealing something important about the changing face of the local cultural landscape. On one hand both the autonomy of these shows and their ability to draw a crowd could be seen as an unequivocal affirmation of the Design District as a new art hub. On the other, these exhibitions, all next door from one another in newly opened or relocated galleries clinging to possibly the most undeveloped corner in what is possibly the most dramatically gentrified area of Miami could be seen as risky. The fact that these shows all opened simultaneously could also be read a number of ways. One school of thought suggests a perceived precariousness on the part of the organizers who having ventured somewhat out on a limb (albeit possibly a green shoot) are now adopting a strength in numbers approach synonymous with vulnerability where as another school in opposition suggests a perceived scarcity and/or sense of competition between these venues who are now flowering at once in order to increase their chances of pollination. In reality, however, it is more likely that these galleries, like all good neighbors, simply take the time to talk and coordinate and in doing so achieve a synchronization that in spite of shallow roots stands an excellent chance of fostering the genesis of a stronger, newly decentralized community[.]