Two satellite fairs represent what’s on the edge of Art Basel Miami Beach.
By Michelle F. Solomon
The 2015 edition of Art Basel in America kicks off in Miami Beach Dec. 3 to 6, but there is more to see beyond the Convention Center walls. While there are many satellite fairs scattered around during Art Week, there are two out of the gate that are worth a closer look for reasons specific to each. Here we talk to one of the curators of Pinta Miami, Roc Laseca, Ph.D., and the artistic director of UNTITLED., Omar López-Chahoud. Both run concurrently to Art Basel with previews on Dec. 2 and openings for the public on Dec. 3 and running through Dec. 6.
Last year was the first for PINTA, the modern and contemporary Latin American art show, to pitch its tent (literally) in Miami. After seven years in New York, PINTA New York became PINTA Miami. It was housed on an empty parcel of land owned by The Related Group, headed by developer Jorgé Perez, who sponsored PINTA last year.
This year, PINTA teams up with another developer, Moishe Mana, and will be exhibiting in his Mana Wynwood space. “The new facility will let us construct multiple innovations from PINTA’s last edition,” says Laseca. The curatorial statement issued from PINTA touts the venue, expounding that the setting will “allow for further cultural collaboration as it will be hosting other internationally recognized organizations — including the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation with artists such as James Turrel and Ed Ruscha, the Miami Symphony Orchestra, and the International Center of Photography (ICP).
PINTA Miami used its first-year experience in Miami to improve upon itself. Laseca described a transformation of the art fair’s organizational structure — a strategic movement of Director Diego Costa Peuser and Manager Alexandra Morales.
The structure counts on new curators who will “articulate the contents of the fair in a new way… extremely interesting both in terms of research and public visibility.”
Peuser founded PINTA NY in 2007 and it was regarded as New York’s first fair dedicated to Latin American modern and contemporary art.
When asked about PINTA’s decided move to Miami and its calendar — which makes it, indirectly, a part of Art Basel, Laseca replied: “The context of Art Basel Week lets us grow in an extremely productive way… There is a mood by which everyone suddenly gets interested in contemporary art.” He points out, however, that an institutional effort needs to be made “to extend this interest year-round and dissociate contemporary art to market, so a great amount of (the) general public will be able to approach some excellent events, programs, and exhibitions that take place after or before Art Basel.”
This year, PINTA Miami will be presented in sections, which include: PINTA Modern, curated by Osbel Suarez; Pinta Contemporary, curated by the Curatorial Committee; Pinta Photography, curated by Jose Antonio Navarrete and Rodrigo Alonso; and Pinta Drawing, curated by Laseca.
We (the team of curators at PINTA) are working to rethink the artistic representation of these regions (Spain, Portugal and Latin America) from a contrasted way that will respect, and, at the same time, go beyond the traditional division between modern and contemporary art. New sections on photography, drawing, and large-scale projects are about to present the work of both emerging and consolidated voices in a new and fresh way,” said the curator.
PINTA Project: Time Sensitive, curated by Jesus Fuenmayor — and one of the art fair’s curatorial projects — presents a series of artistic proposals that explore the incorporation of time in the work of art. In his curatorial statement, Fuenmayor explained: “The idea is to bring together a group of works by prominent artists from Ibero-America (Latin America, Spain, and Portugal) — created by well-established artists as well as by the younger generation, but all of whom take up the question of time, one of the most defining elements in contemporary art’s reception.”
Another section, PINTA Forum, organized by Laseca, is made up of a series of talks and panel discussions. “As this is the only international fair devoted to Latin American, Spanish, and Portuguese art, our program tends to reinforce the new speculative and reflective conversations among these territories.” He also underscores that the audience is not merely present as spectators during Forum, “but (it) offers the opportunity to debate and confront issues.”
Dialogue and contemporary art co-exist, and Laseca agreed that Forum reiterates how important dialogue is to art. “The main work of contemporary art has to do with discussing, establishing alliances, articulating new ideas, making possible networks and programs — that is dialoguing. Above all, this is a field of processes more than products, and little by little, many art fairs are welcoming initiatives — beyond the conversation series — that transcend commercial purposes.” Laseca finds his role as both coordinator of PINTA Forum and curator of PINTA Drawing satisfying for the simple reason that he gets a chance to, as he says, “articulate, on a larger scale, what is going to be discussed with what is going to be exhibited.”
Fifty galleries — from the United States, Latin America, and Europe — participating in PINTA Miami provide a focus in the Latin American, Spanish, and Portuguese international art fair that offers a venue and platform for the abstract, concrete, neo-concrete, kinetic, and conceptual art movements.
“Collectors, dealers, audiences, curators, museum directors, and of course, artists and cultural producers take part in the fair to share experiences and update agendas and common interests. And the fact that this fair is in Miami is not accidental. Miami’s artistic scenario offers a crucial time to rethink the possibilities of establishing fruitful connections with those who are continuously getting in and out of the city.”
UNTITLED. MAKES A STATEMENT
Another relative newbie on the Basel block, ushering in only its fourth edition, is UNTITLED. No doubt, the satellite fair draws attention because of its location directly on the beach in South Beach.
Each year, the structure seems to get bigger, capitalizing on its indoor-outdoor experience with a light and airy space that comingles so beautifully with the art. Architecture firm K/R (John Keenen/Terence Riley) will create the structure again this year for Basel and there won’t be many changes from last year. For its third edition, the tent remained on the beach, but was reimagined. What’s certain to become iconic — a pink wedge on one end, which divides the main exhibition space from an area reserved for talks and events.
“The tent has been a continued success because it integrates galleries, not-for-profit spaces, and designates areas for the fair’s programming,” says artistic director Omar López-Chahoud.
The artistic director explains that the owner/founder of UNTITLED., Jeff Lawson, conceived the idea. “He worked on it for three years prior to our first edition. It’s a brilliant idea and incorporates the location and natural light to enhance a visitor’s experience.”
Last year, 110 international exhibitors from 18 countries were on hand for the curated art fair, which focuses on international galleries and nonprofit art spaces. Its focus is on emerging and midcareer contemporary art, which López-Chahoud says incites a “conversation that emerges between generations, which interests me and our curatorial team.”
While the number of galleries that has exhibited each year has doubled since UNTITLED.’s inception, López-Chahoud says that although it is their mission to be an international platform for exhibitions, they remain careful on how they “want the fair to grow.” This year, galleries will represent 30 countries.
UNTITLED. is frequently mentioned as one of the not-to-miss satellite art fairs during Basel. “The fair’s mission is to innovate the traditional art fair model, and we have done so with the architecture, the curatorial aspect of the fair, and our programming.” UNTITLED. approaches the process of selection differently, too, than other art fairs. Rather than the decision being made by a gallery committee, the fair is put together curatorially. “From the beginning we have worked with curators on all aspects of the fair. I think this is what sets us apart,” explains López-Chahoud, who has been the art fair’s curator since its inception in 2012 and was drawn by the appeal of creating something that hadn’t been done before.
Once again, although the group has not yet been named, UNTITLED. will incorporate its charity component. Last year’s opening on World AIDS Day saw UNTITLED. dedicating its vernissage to ACRIA, a research and education organization for people with HIV and AIDS with the sale of a special edition of three large-format photographs by Ryan McGinley, who is known for his “Road Trip” photographs where he places nudes within the American landscape.
While the pink wedge will certainly be a draw to UNTITLED. this year, there’s more happening both inside and outside the tent.
“We offer a serious space for a more in-depth dialogue about art, curation, and of course, a beautiful and pleasant space to enjoy.”
From Berlin to Turin, art fairs in Europe are in full swing.
By Michelle F. Solomon
First stop — Art Berlin Contemporary (Sept. 17 to 20, 2015) or its tiny preferred acronym, abc. Those in the art world were hoping that abc, which began in 2008 as an experimental sculpture show, would ditch its invite-only policy and open itself up to become an official art fair. Well, here it is. For the first time, abc accepted applications for exhibitors to show in its 2015 edition.
Housed at Station Berlin, a 19th century landmark train station, 100 galleries will showcase everything from solo presentations to curated projects, both indoors and outdoors.
ARTISTIC ADDITIONS: The city has rallied around its contemporary art fairs — both abc and satellite fair, Positions Berlin — by sponsoring Berlin Art Week. The metropolis, an art haven which served as inspiration for Max Beckmann, Kathe Kollwitz, and Edvard Munch, counts about 5,000 visual artists as residents and is home to 440 galleries. Art is always a reason to visit this cultural center of Germany, but abc and art week make it extra satisfying.
Next up, the Vienna Contemporary (Sept. 24 to 27, 2015). In its 11th year and new this year, it sports a name change — it was the Vienna Fair — and a new location — Marx Halle. The venue is art worthy, architecturally speaking. Built at the end of the 19th century by Rudolf Frey, it was the first wrought-iron structure in Vienna. The new name reflects the fair’s desire to become more of an international art fair; whereas previously, it focused on a cross section of Eastern and Southeastern European contemporary art. There’s still dedication to this tract, however, evident in its Focus section. Formerly, the focus countries were Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus (2012), Georgia and Poland (2013), and Azerbaijan (2014). Vienna Contemporary, this year, zooms in on Bulgaria for its Focus, offering a representative selection of contemporary Bulgarian art from private collections and major Bulgarian galleries.
ARTISTIC ADDITIONS: Exhibitions specifically conceived for the fair highlight the Reflections section. Geukens & De Vil from Belgium show Sophie Kuijken and Gideon Kiefer — two artists dealing with human identity and existence in a doomed world. Galerija Škuc will present Alban Muja, Jasmina Cibic, and Matej Andraž Vogrinčič — three artists who reflect socio-cultural contexts of local political situations in site-specific works. Galerija Photon tracks down the spirit of Dadaism and surrealism in 20th-century photography in Eastern Europe and presents Ladislav Postupa, Stane Jagodič, and Roberto Kusterle.
A little over two weeks to rest, then it’s off to London. There are plenty of reasons to visit Frieze London (Oct. 14 to 17, 2015) in its bespoke, temporary structure in Regent’s Park, but this year we’re making a bee line for one specifically — the second edition of Frieze Live. New last year, the section is dedicated to interactive and performance art. For the 2015 edition, highlights include an “intimate encounter” by Argentina-born artist Amalia Ulman, who has gained world renown by turning social media into performance art and a historical processional piece by Brazilian artist Tunga. The question is, how do you buy live art?
ARTISTIC ADDITIONS: Renowned galleries joining Frieze this year include Cheim & Reid (New York), Galerie Kamel Mennour (Paris), and Simon Lee Gallery (London), along with 160 of the world’s leading contemporary galleries from 30 countries
Luckily, the high-speed Eurostar can get us from London to Paris in just over two hours since there isn’t much downtime between Frieze and FIAC. This is where contemporary art is at its most elegant and sophisticated. Paris and art go together like champagne and brie, so there’s no better time to enjoy one of the oldest contemporary art fairs. This is the 42nd edition of FIAC — Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain; translated, International Contemporary Art Fair (Oct. 22 to 25, 2015) — which takes place in locations across the City of Lights, yet the main attractions are inside the historic Grand Palaise.
The additional Hors les Murs program has outdoor works in the Louvre’s Tuileries Garden, one of the greatest public gardens in the world. At Jardin des Plantes — Paris’s main botanical garden — and Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle —the French National Museum of Natural History — the outdoor exhibitions focus on themes such as nature, biodiversity, and the environment, and for a very specific reason. This year, France is hosting the COP21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, so the artworks will stay on exhibit until mid-December.
More outdoor works will be placed near the Seine River along the left bank riverside promenade “les Berges de Seine.” Meanwhile, “monumental” is the word FIAC is using for its outdoor sculptures and installations exhibit on the prestigious Place Vendôme.
ARTISTIC ADDITIONS: Of course, with a fair this size, there are a number of satellite fairs to visit — known in art fair lingo as “offs” for off fairs or off sites — rather than the big daddy “official” fairs. Jennifer Flay, FIAC’s general director for the past five years, told the New York Times last year that many of the “offs” didn’t make “the standard;” so FIAC added its own. The second edition of (Off)icielle will be presented at Les Docks – Cité de la Mode et du Design, which gives young galleries a chance to showcase their work.
Last on our grand art fair tour is Turin, a little over an hour away by train from Milan and at the feet of the Italian Alps. This is Artissima (Nov. 6 to 8, 2015), which draws mostly Italian collectors, but also international art lovers and curators as well. For the fifth consecutive year, Italy’s top fair for contemporary art takes place in the spectacular Oval Lingotto Fiere, an architecturally innovative pavilion which was used as a skating rink for the Winter Olympic Games of Turin 2006.
Artissima is known for being on the cutting edge of contemporary art. This year, its Back to the Future section — devoted to rediscovering the artistic avant-garde of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s — focuses on the 1975 to 1985 period. Each year, a prize is awarded by an international jury for its Sardi per l’Arte Back to the Future, which chooses the most “remarkable project in the section.” The award is judged on both historical reference of the artist and of booth presentation.
ARTISTIC ADDITIONS: To spur the conversation of art, the fair’s Walkie Talkies program features informal dialogues held by experts as they wander through the work. And proving art doesn’t have to be on canvas or sculpture to be fair worthy, last year, Artissima introduced Per4m, which focuses on performance art.
— Michelle F. Solomon