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Miami- Wednesday in Basel


So here it is 3:45 in the afternoon on wed, and I've already had the ABMB experience in a record four hours. It's completed; the rest is about finding something interesting away from the "main" attraction. I've flown, seen a ton of art (good, bad, interesting, common, and rare), defended and renounced the whole art fair experience, seen friends who I could see at any point but don't until we go elsewhere, laughed at the average age difference of some of the VIPs and their younger ladies, not known who a celebrity was, forgotten to eat, bought a book (Canadian conceptual art), ran into more friends, been delayed by the hotel, got a free drink, and was overjoyed to charge my phone.

For those who still haven't been subjected to the experience, that's how those of us without 125K to spend on a Douglas Huebler work from 1969 participate in this annual happening. I'm not being cynical by any stretch. It's just that easy to "do" Miami.

In the historically important art category, the fantastic Huebler Location #2 at Paula Cooper is a grid of 16 photographs taken in New York and Seattle by two people. Those photos are supposed to match a set of words Huebler provided. He then took his own photos of those words, collected the photographs, and edited them down to these 16 images from 21 images. What we are left with are a group of images that may be made by the artist, or one of his two additional photographers. It's next to impossible to know without a ton of effort which ones were produced by whom; but to dissect the photos for the hand of the artist is to make a mistake. Their reliance on conceptual and indeterminate creation sources is the point.

There was also a Lichtenstein drawing from 1962 at Gagosian. A smaller drawing (no more than 20 inches) it contains his trademark style, a comic book frame that was probably taken from a comic like Girls' Romances. In it, an pilot kisses and hugs a woman, probably for the last time, with the dark outline of an airplane in the background that will eventually separate them forever.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss, not knowing about Jon Kessler (shown at Salon 94) allowed me to enjoy his animatronic sculptures for the first time. I feel like I should have already known his work but we'll deal with that later. Mostly using cameras and motion to keep the viewer in the same mental space of a bird or a toddler that keeps seeing his/her own reflection, Kessler hides some sly dystopian motifs in cuteness. These works thankfully have more than one level to them and don't stay cute for long. His mini show titled The Future was Perfect is a group of new work where both machines and people perform inane actions.

Art Basel is the only place I remember seeing Wim Delvoye's work in person. Much of his work excites me in its noisy confrontation (He famously made a machine that makes poop from food) of what passes for art, but others seem more conventional; bordering on elegant. One of his less hostile works, a pair of decorative hand made tires is on show. His sculptures embody the best and worst of contemporary art; conceptually strong, non-traditional media, trying to be new till it seems old. I still love getting to see his work and wish I could spend more time with it.

I apologize for my miserable photographs of these art works.


About Author

John is an independent writer and curator. He was the Editor in Chief of Big Red & Shiny from 2012-13 and Journal Editor through June 2014. John has written for Art New England, Art Papers, Artsfuse.org, Artwrit.com, DailyServing.com, the New American Paintings blog, Printeresting.org and others.

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