Total Immersion

Loving your work so much you live in it

Benedetti's A Whole Would Be Something entices viewers to consider the novelty of enjoying a wall. She carves a narrow, tubular tunnel into a wall, through which a selection of dialogue from the popular children's film The Neverending Story plays, thereby investing the statis of the wall with fluidity. Benedetti is the only female in this testosterone-drenched show, and her work exudes an erotic frisson. Punning with whole and hole, she positions the downward-shaped tunnel at a deliberate height that suggests penile penetration. It's appealing to think of the Placemaker gang as a scientific club, gathering data to advance empirical knowledge of the observable universe. No doubt the future holds promise for these artists and curators.

The nearby Collins Building presents "Project Exhibition," the work of the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation's first artists-in-residence -- Brazil's Jarbas Lopes and Argentina's Tomás Saraceno. Both men were invited to live in Miami and contribute to the city's growing international art scene. The two artists tackled the landscape of Miami using ingenious formal means.

Inspired by nature's spontaneously produced sea foam, When Spheres Meet Spheres: From Miami to Cuba sees Saraceno engineering a lightweight mechanical bubble on water. He was met with some challenging construction issues as he sought to create a metaphor for brotherhood among nations in his work. Several videos shown on hanging screens depict various phases of Saraceno's project, from early sketches to the assembly of the structure on the sand and its being set afloat on Biscayne Bay. Water-tight plastic dodecahedrons are zippered together to simulate the division and joining of sea-foam bubbles. His project references radical politics surrounding the creation of inflatable structures that began with the manned balloon flights during the French Revolution. This genre finally came to fruition during the Sixties with the evolution of experimental architecture and furniture. The weightlessness of inflatable materials naturally suggests jettisoning artificial, outmoded political and social distinctions.

John Bianchi, installation view, Placemaker Gallery
John Bianchi, installation view, Placemaker Gallery


Responsibility," and "The Quality of Life" Through June 11
Placemaker Gallery, 3852 N Miami Ave, Miami; 305-576-6695. Open Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5:00 p.m., or by appointment.

Jarbas Lopes also found useful artistic fodder in the local seaside. His works are made from interwoven digital images and carpet, each measuring five by seven feet in diameter. His pieces are ambitious -- contrasting dull strips of carpeting with high-tech inkjet printed strips -- and depict banal scenes in Miami Beach, including a lifeguard station and palm trees blown by hurricane-force winds. These works skewer the grandeur of traditional big painting and the glossy sheen of photographs advertising Miami as a tropical paradise. It's odd these iconic beach scenes are so fascinating, even to newcomers in Miami. Another work Lopes completed in 1998, Barraca Desgraça, is constructed from burlap posters announcing events in Brazil. The artist reattached the strips of text to create a three-dimensional run-on sentence. This piece conveys a similar material ingenuity but retains an ad hoc freshness. All the works shown demonstrate the largely unexplored potential of modular construction.

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