Installation view: (clockwise from foreground) Bert Rodriguez, Untitled (Bench), Jacin Giordano, Attempted Painting in the Rain (Day 4), Don Lambert, Flatland.
On my recent trip to New York, I was frequently asked to describe Miami’s art scene. There is curiosity, and along with it, the expectation of a Miami style. Considering the unique mix of immigrant cultures, climate, and visual environment, it’s a reasonable assumption that work produced in this city would have some consistent something that distinguishes it from work created elsewhere. If New Work Miami 2010, currently on view at Miami Art Museum, is any indication, there are strong individual artistic voices here but no particular Miami style.
(Left) Talking Head Transmitters’ empty radio booth and (Right) broadcasting an interview during opening night.
Almost a third of the work in New Work Miami 2010 could loosely be described as participatory, meaning it generates or is generated by interaction with the public (whether the museum public or the larger city public). Talking Head Transmitters built a radio station in the museum which periodically broadcasts on the AM waves. Gean Moreno and Ernesto Oroza’s tabloid is being distributed at drop spots throughout the city and their Freddy MAM Visitor’s Gallery is a dynamic environment that explicitly invites interaction. Adler Guerrier uses signs from local neighborhoods for raw material and Michael Genovese’s Public Scribings literally bear the marks of what must be hundreds of people. I’ll even include Felicia Chizuko Carlisle’s mixed media installation which has a performative element – it will be changed by the artist over the course of the exhibition.
Gean Moreno and Ernesto Oroza, Freddy MAM Visitor’s Gallery
There are some common threads here, and yet, for every work that could be defined as participatory, there are two that simply can’t be squeezed into the mould, including work by some of Miami’s most established artists. Further, there are a number of outstanding artists not represented in this show. Had they been included, the critical mass of the group might have shifted to another topic or dissolved completely. Any consistency across the show seems, more than anything, a product of the curators’ interests.
Kevin Arrow, Untitled (Cluster no. 003), Untitled (Charles Beseler Slide King) and Untitled (Slide).
This is by no means a criticism of Miami artists nor of the exhibition. It’s a good show, plain and simple. I challenge anyone to argue differently (and if that naysayer is you, by all means, leave a comment). It’s no easy task to sum up the production of a city in just a few rooms. Anyway, New Work Miami 2010 was never intended to be an exhaustive survey. René Morales, in his thoughtful text published in Moreno and Oroza’s tabloid, plainly announces the selection as “both interlinked and disparate” because it is specifically not a themed exhibition but “a sampling of what the organizers encountered in process in the studios or freshly concocted in the minds of Miami-based artists.” The exhibition is a fairly accurate representation of what’s being made in Miami right now. So, where is the identity of place?
Installation view: (Foreground and Left) Viking Funeral, Temporary Arts, (Center) Adler Guerrier, from Untitled, and (Right) Manny Prieres, Untitled Black on Black.
New Work Miami 2010 suggests that Miami artists are aspiring to escape the bounds of geography; the work produced here can be seen as a cross section of art-making around the world. It’s no wonder – online resources are endless, travel and communication are easy, and art catalogs from even the most distant locations are readily available. And, of course, the international art world annually lands on our shores. Further, the defining social and political issues of the moment are centered elsewhere or floating in the nowhere of the internet. In theory, a local flavor should still come through. Morales’s text quotes Erla Zwingle, whose words sum up a prevalent theory on cultural cross-pollination: “When cultures receive outside influences, they ignore some and adopt others, and then almost immediately transform them.” The question of Miami style, then, remains to be answered[.]
New Work Miami 2010 is on view at Miami Art Museum until October 17, 2010
For more information including the extensive events program please visit www.miamiartmuseum.org
All photos by Sid Hoeltzell, courtesy the artist and Miami Art Museum.
This post was contributed by Annie Hollingsworth winner of this year’s Miami Writer’s Prize.