Words By Maura Judkis
Art Basel Miami Beach will celebrate a decade of existence with an oversized bed of roses sprouting out of the beach, and a naked woman living in a pig pen. Those are just two of the installations planned for this year’s fair, which brings works by blue-chip and up-and-coming artists into the hands of collectors. The annual event has cemented the city’s place in the upper echelons of the art world.
Art Basel Miami is now a top destination for collecting and appreciating art — which runs the gamut from Picasso to artist Miru Kim, whose performance “The Pig That Therefore I Am” involved her romping around nude amid a herd of pigs. Kim says that her experience with pigs is a way to connect with an animal that is similar to humans in many ways. “Both a pig and I carry our exteriorized memories on our cutaneous garment — scars, blemishes, wrinkles, and rashes that manifest markings of time, anguish of the soul, wounds of love and war. We all live at the same time, naked and not quite naked,” she writes in her artist’s statement.
The aforementioned roses, by the way, are more than 20 feet high, and sprout out of the sand, thanks to artist Will Ryman.
Thanks to provocative performances and intriguing new art, this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach will draw huge crowds that have grown larger each year. According to the Associated Press, more than 46,000 people attended last year’s fair, not counting the people who came to Miami for satellite fairs like Aqua, NADA, Pulse, Scope and Red Dot. This year’s Art Basel will feature more than 2,000 artists, who work in all mediums, from more than 260 galleries around the world. A new video projection wall was designed by architect Frank Gehry.
That’s just one example of the major step up for a city that, according to Time’s Tim Padgett, “was better known, fairly or not, as a cultural wasteland whose most exalted aesthetic expression was plastic surgery,” pre-Basel. Art Basel in Switzerland, one of the world’s most respected art fairs, wanted a U.S. franchise, and they selected Miami for its warm climate and multiculturalism. The Wynwood district, then the site of a gritty, burgeoning street art scene, will now host galleries that will auction off paintings by artists like Pablo Picasso, Fernando Botero, Damien Hirst and Roy Lichtenstein — a far cry from rolling in the muck with pigs. But at a festival that has grown so big, so quickly, there’s something for everyone.