THE RISING TIDES OF MIAMI
PAMM being built at Museum Park.
Dead reckoning algorithm.
This article is divided into two parts. Here is part one. The second part will follow, soon. While both installments are concerned with Miami’s cultural currents, the first installment takes issue with the change in name that the former Miami Art Museum, MAM, has adopted on account of its physical makeover and relocation and apparent internal dynamic shift as PAMM or Pérez Art Museum Miami. The second installment will take us to the actual currents of the Miami river while taking advantage of a boat ride and an on-deck film screening to examine the practice of “Dead Reckoning,” recontextualized as a cognitive device for navigating the temporal currents of Miami and beyond [dead reckoning is the process of calculating one's current position by using a previously determined position, or fix in time by advancing that position based upon known or estimated speeds over elapsed time, and course. And of course ‘dead reckoning’ is always subjected to cumulative errors].
Catamaran with screen rigged on deck. Image courtesy Domingo Castillo.
Aguirre Wrath of God original German movie poster.
The stage is set in two places: the first is downtown Miami, by the bay of rising seas where an actual building is being built for a Miami art museum to relocate and the second is on-board a catamaran cruising down the Miami River while watching a Herzog film: Aguirre, The Wrath of God, on deck. My point, if it can be found, should be located somewhere in the interstices between the irrational satirical ranting of the first section and the musing contents of the second. Then by combining the two segments into a twisted and convoluted narrative, I hope to create the conditions for an analogy between two protagonist–the first being the films protagonist: a 16th century Spanish conquistador and colonizer, named Lope de Aguirre, the second, an American, Argentine born protagonist named Jorge M. Pérez, whose career in real-estate development represents, to me, through his sordid business practices, a modern day Latin American version of a Spanish conquistador.
Commissioned portrait of Jorge M Pérez.
PAMM AS AN INSTITUTIONAL PROSTITUTE presents AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD. On a cool Miami Saturday evening, MAM / PAMM sponsored a film screening on a boat, motoring down the Miami River. The film was, is by Werner Herzog. To gain passage on the round-trip boat ride, the organizers required all passengers to write a short work about the current show at MAM: NEW WORK MIAMI 2013. The following is a reproduction of the call for submission to climb aboard. Film screening:
“Aguirre, The Wrath of God” Public · By Miami Art Museum Saturday, February 2, 2013 Catamaran on Miami River. Special instructions given upon reservation confirmation. Travel down the Miami River to Biscayne Bay on a catamaran while watching Herzog’s,”Aguirre, The Wrath of God” (1972). The film tells the story of a 16th-century Spanish expedition in search of El Dorado, led by the ruthless Don Aguirre. *Seating is limited* so, how can you gain a coveted ticket and undisclosed information to join this very special screening? SPRING BREAK has asked that you see the exhibition “New Work Miami 2013″ on view at MAM and write a 500 word response. All responses must be the author’s original text. It may be a review, reflection, or creative response that makes reference to the exhibition.”
I never made it to see the exhibition. And if I can remember, I will tell you why later. Below is a longer, more articulate, gentler and possibly nicer version of my original submission to board the CAT.
Rendering of the new Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) as an Institutional Prostitute.
MAM (Miami art Museum) has become PAMM (Pérez Art Museum Miami). Turning MAM into PAMM has caused much grief amongst many locals who care about the direction this Miami art institution is taking. Originally MAM was founded in 1984 as “The Center for the Fine Arts,” then in 1996 it became Miami Art Museum and emerged, in hindsight perhaps wittily genderized, alongside another Miami Museum namely the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Both MAM and MOCA were established, respectfully, as competent Miami arts institutions and from their beginnings, till now, have aspired to share a common mission: To represent and foster the intellectual growth of the local arts community while attempting to further an international conversation.
Likely before any international conversations took place, the first Miami natives, the Tekesta, inhabited the area for more than one thousand years before the first non-native colonizing Spaniards arrived to dominate the conversations. Then, years later, after present day Miami emerged from the swamp, after many trials and tribulations, successes and failures, and amongst its notable noble or ignoble histories, Miami became unique for “holding the distinction of being the only major city in the United States conceived by a woman, Julia Tuttle.” Miami has continued to renew itself through its colorful re-beginnings and to separate itself, surprisingly, from much of its sordid past by growing up and of late even out growing a more recent tendency that appeared to be heavily invested in turning the Miami metropolitan area into both a retirement and party capital of the eastern sea board.
The “Magic City”, a nick name given to Miami for its intrepid fearlessness towards rapid growth, shares that common spirit with the psychic mood of those locals who are capable of getting over being type cast as inhabitants of an infamous playground for the nefarious. In addition, most people with ties to the area have learned to overcome that paranoid and over-romanticized allusion that Miami still suffers an Original Gangster stigmata as though blood were still flowing into its rivers and canals due to the fact that Miami was once the most violent narcotics distribution center for all of North America.
Jim Morrison’s Mugshot, Miami Dade county, FL 1970.
Miami [now], shows signs of becoming a burgeoning multi-cultural Cosmopolitan capital, and until recently MAM has played a role in raising that cultural prestige. However the memory of MAM’s role in progressing that progressive milieu, seems to be fading away—MAM as a once community run institution, run by and large with transparency has lately become guarded and opaque since real-estate interest have co- opted the institution…its transparency has given way to subterfuge and concealment, while the commercial usurper has adroitly invaded the institution with the determined presence of a self-serving and self-interested resolute parasite–since then, this living and breathing entity has created a dark cloud over the once altruistic, not for profit, mood that MAM and other public cultural institutions generally strive to uphold.
MAM, MOCA and the Miami art scene have managed to turn the corner over the last decade, from being a minor provincial outsider, on no ones international art map, to becoming more of a maturing player with a gaze towards an international conversation. Miami’s identity and influence has strengthened because of it. However, after too many nights of celebrating this new found sense of self worth MAM woke up one morning with an epic hangover, and desperately sought out a cure. MAM found them of course and was treated to the usual mashed up mix of elixirs and concoctions combining hair of the dog, blended fruits and veggies, raw eggs, spices, vitamins, etc–topped off with a long white feverish toot of desperate relief. Unfortunately though, “someone” slipped MAM a “Mickey,” lacing the hangover cure with the potent mix of god-speed and crony capital, resulting in, changing the convalescing MAM, over night into PAMM who hasn’t looked back or in the mirror ever since. Since that unfortunate turning point, MAM’s independent gaze has glazed over and the voice has become tired and raspy from singing too many vocal sets in too many smoke filled back rooms. As well, MAM’s peripheral vision has lost sight only to be re-focused through the dark pinned eyes of a real-estate developer whose bottom line is to sell Miami as a destination to those transient intransigents whose upward mobility contributes to that haunting spirit of unsustainable growth—Such is the mission of Jorge M Pérez, Chairman and CEO of “Related Group:” “Redefining Cities & Skylines,” marketing new definitions.
Jorge M Pérez, “Related Group”, Condo buildings, Miami, FL via www.related.com.
“Redefining Cities,” is quite the slogan to brandish about a large town especially when one considers, just maybe, only, a very small fraction of the more than 5.5 million inhabitants of the greater Miami metropolitan area look towards a Pimping Pérez to redefine the city for them in the first place. In deference to an existing community spirit, it appears that we’re stuck with this man, this specter of wealth, his colossal cojones, his overinflated ego and overabundant bravado, who has no doubt survived the collapse of a few self-realized real-estate bubbles of his own design. We are stuck with his minions too, these “Related Groupies”, who too think that “Redefining Cities,” our city, is the necessary thing to do as well—All the while, they too, must think, we too, need redefining by their chivalrous codes of commercialized gallantry, inspired by that deluding allusion to a God of free-market, whose pure form guides the dream for a pure form of laissez-faire capital. And like any free market puritans, the “Related Group” went full throttle towards MAM, delivering that financial Mickey, dangled from a carrot and stick in one hand, while waving the flag of PAMM stapled to a pike in the other….The mission, to hatch a coup d’état by breaching that unguarded public facade of MAM. Well of course, the bloodless coup succeeded, even before it started with the aid of MAM’s inner circle, its director Thom Collins, and the other usual band of suspects–a board of cultural felons whose silence before and after the coup showed little or no sign of board tribulation (turns out maybe the nefarious underworld types never left Miami after all).
Thomas Collins, Director of MAM / PAMM.
So here we are, presently watching the memory of MAM suffer the fate of erasure, while giving rise to PAMM—with no past and future undetermined, PAMM has a new address, a new house, and a newly constructed palace designed by Herzog & de Meuron, this is where Madame de PAMM will hold court for Pérez’s by the bay of rising seas. In doing so, MAM’s transgressed body and soul has been reduced to that of an old school philosophical anachronism, representing that classic relationship between subject and object (between Pérez and MAM) turned into a fading subjective memory of abject thingness—as though Pérez himself had invited Medusa to stop by and have a fateful chat with MAM—MAM’s old address is now nothing more than brick and mortar awaiting a new tenant. There is no doubt that MAM gave in to Pérez and his “Related Gangster Group” coup d’état because of the anxiety created by financial pressure, for as most people know, MAM could not afford to move to new digs on her own. So instead of just staying at the current address, a solid fortress high on a safe hill, higher above the currents of rising seas, MAM decided to give up a safer raised address and let its vessel holdings empty onto a move to Bicentennial Park (renamed Museum Park) by the bay of rising seas— closer to sea level, closer to radical exposure and sublime affects attributable to anthropogenic global warming (AGW).
MAM NOT PAMM logo posted to the topical facebook name change protest page by Mixolidia Gautreaux.
MAM & PAMM unrelated image via www.ikonfx.com
MAM just buckled at the knees when advised to give in to the chivalrous bribes and promises made by the charming courtier developer for no better reason than the man needed the prestige of museum to front to his condo deals whose success, he thinks, depends on the villainous demand that he be given renaming rights to seal the deal– Hence forth, MAM became PAMM after a pimp tricked MAM into becoming a tricked out prostitute named PAMM. Yes its practically medieval the way all the serfs went along with the plan, allowing MAM’s voice to opine her depressing digression into transgression by echos from the hear after, claiming that the cross-addressing and renaming improves its habitus–again, MAM became PAMM after a pimp tricked MAM into becoming a tricked out prostitute named PAMM.
Joan Miro, Le Courtesan Grotesque, 1974.
Picasso, Courtesan with Necklace of Gems, 1901.
However, PAMM is not your average prostitute, mind you, for PAMM belongs to that elite upper-class of tropical concubine perhaps better thought of as a modern day courtesan. PAMM has also been made over with all the lip gloss and painted affectations of southern comfort and cronyism soon to be housed in that emerging palatial palace designed by Herzog and de Meuron…as well PAMM is now complimented by a regional court created by mixing the dysfunctional nature of south Florida politics with the vacuous nature of southern business ethics… all for the sake of Pérez and his “Related Group,” to mime an aestheticized jargon as though it were all just part of the crusading good old boy network, networking a good old boy experiment in relational real-estate aesthetics. Anyway, PAMM is dressed up with nowhere to go. Then someone called out Jorge M Pérez for being the Donald Trump of the tropics– easy enough to envision, especially if you can imagine the two as part of the same American anti-environmental crime family–meaning that Pérez, that self styled emperor of palm and coconut landscapes could easily trade places with Donald Trump–that tasteless builder of towering kitsch camps everywhere. Pérez and Trump are essentially interchangeable–they both build phallocentric towering icons to themselves, that have nothing to do with philanthropy or add to the betterment of any existing community, as well they still work that antiquated modernist myth that natural resources will last forever—But yet like any great modernist real-estate tycoon worth his salt, they hedge their bets by selling that positivist insuring stance that science will always come to the rescue, saving the day, always keeping the empires elevators forever running higher, ever closer to the clouds.
Donald Trump and Jorge M Pérez: furrowed brow and goatee to the right standing next to a bad comb over on the left. This is the misanthropic portrait of the physiognomy of capital. In conclusion.
I obviously, wax the metaphorical potential of prostitution as a subject informing a means to an end. However, I would also like to unequivocally make clear that I do not have a problem with prostitution as long as it is based on a consensual relationship between adults… However, I think it is necessary to assert that the relationship between Jorge M Pérez and MAM / PAMM is not necessarily based on a consensual relationship. I saw this because, in my opinion, the relationship between Pérez and MAM was initially founded on a form of financial concubinage…as just another form of coercion that essentially leads to the same thing: selling the self, or selling the body out of desperation—as sure as Heroin is forced upon a body as a form of coercion…Capital can be too. the strategy is similar, whether it be opiates or capital…its all about letting the addictive power of both real substances or abstract substance (opiates or capital) form a profitable relationship based off a unilateral dependency between the body, the consumer, the prostitute, the institution, [and] the dealer, the pimp, the loan shark, the investor, the banker, the capitalist or what have you.
And finally, I temporarily end this diatribe with the following wrap up before we move on to the next installment: MAM has obviously created a conflict of interest by selling its name, its credibility and its prestige to the greater greed of a developing agent whose self-interest obviously lies with exploiting the future of PAMM by exploiting the existing prestige of MAM…In case you haven’t caught my drift, its all creating a front for marketing condos. It begins by blurring the lines between marketing and exhibiting art and marketing real-estate– And the trick blurs best by branding and artist name dropping and exploiting the addictive power of conspicuous consumption. These procedures have become popular marketing tactics among developers as the real estate boom picks up steam here in South Florida. All this and more gives rise to that other obvious more destructive fetishistic practice: conspicuous construction. As such, the state of Miami’s current and future cultural production can easily be seen as a fragile future especially when its authenticity can be so easily effected by the misguided relational practices and interventions instigated by commercial interest[.]
This post was contributed by Richard Haden.