Invading That Space

The Design District has a show highlighting its place -- and collectors

You have some local artists that are not in collections. How did they get picked?

Being collected was not a requirement for an artist to be included in the show. I borrowed work from the collectors and had the freedom to 'round out the theme' and make the show relevant to its venues in the Design District. I decided to retain one work from [last year's] "Humid" show, A Wall I Built With My Father by Bert Rodriguez -- a seminal work for any Miami collection or institution. Some artists work with issues of place and I invited them to do site works. George Sanchez's reference to The Blessing raises relevant issues about cultural empowerment and urban development in connection with his installation in Overtown. Martin Oppel's work with the performing arts center site engages a poetic discourse about architecture and cultural futures. Other neighborhood artists like Tao Rey and Bhaki Baxter deal with urban graffiti/gutter/warehouse culture and site-determined work. Ray Azcuy's Standing Room Only is a wonderful flying carpet of sorts.

How do you respond to having included some local artists and not others?

Ana Mendieta's Untitled (Facial Hair Transplant) from 1972
Ana Mendieta's Untitled (Facial Hair Transplant) from 1972

Hey, there's only so much room.

Among the pieces, do you have particular favorites? Why?

The Ana Mendieta beard exchange photos. It's a work that's 30 years old and I still identify with its subversive strategy and primal power. It's an action that positions the human face and body as places of transformation, political exchange, and risk-taking. In a local history angle, the funniest thing continues to happen with Robert Chambers's work. A lot of people think the flashing neon refers to the dance-floor lights of the Fire and Ice disco that was in that very space in the 1980s. In all places, art is a beacon.

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