By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
Flash back to Art Basel 2003. On NE 37th Street and Biscayne Boulevard, a thirteen-foot mural of a nude posterior view, emphasis on the derrire, appeared on a wall.
Tan, with her blond hair in a bun, the female subject personified the lyrics of Sir Mix-a-Lot ("That when a girl walks in with an itty-bitty waist/And a round thing in your face/You get sprung"). She became known around town by the affectionate nickname "Booty," in honor of her greatest (size-wise) attribute.
Artist Daniel Fila painted the piece, titled Erin, with the permission of the property's owner, architect Chad Oppenheim. But the well-padded nude was not to everyone's taste: In the dark of a weekend night in March 2004, an unknown perpetrator, roller in hand, obliterated the figure in a swath of white. Erin and her big booty were gone.
For a while.
Art Basel 2005 marked the revival of the big-butt figure, although this time the view was from the front in a new painting, Adam and Eve. Now the 25-year-old Fila finds himself again mired in controversy. The Bitch recently received an accusation that the female subject's face in Adam and Eve was appropriated inappropriately from a feminist-theme self-portrait by the real Erin. According to Bill Randolf, who attended Columbus College of Art and Design with both Fila and the painting's purported subject, painter and photographer Erin Wozniak, the face was lifted from Wozniak's photo Open Wide.
Fila clarifies: The first painting (from behind) and the second (from the front) are indeed his interpretations of Wozniak, whom Fila admired when the two were classmates at CCAD.
"I had a crush on her," Fila says. "She is a beautiful woman and a really talented artist, so I did a painting that looked like her in a way." When it came to rendering Wozniak's face, Fila drew a blank.
"I didn't have any reference for her," he explains. So he used a photo of her self-portrait. "I wanted to give my audience her real face."
Wozniak, reached in New Zealand, where she now lives, characterizes Fila's pursuit in a more ominous light and expresses outrage over the use of her image.
"What Daniel Fila has done is taken my artwork not a photo, but my artwork, and directly copied it, publicly presenting it as his own," Wozniak fumes via e-mail. "He has also defamed my work by pasting it onto a grossly over-sexualized naked figure. His comments that he wanted to give it a öreal face' totally ignore the issue."
Fila denies the work references Wozniak in a disrespectful or unoriginal manner. "I am genuine talent," he tells The Bitch in an e-mail following an initial interview. "My painting was initially controversial because it was quite simply a glorification of the female anatomy."
Fila says he sent Wozniak a photo of Erin the first version. "She said she was öat a loss for words,'" according to Fila, adding Wozniak no longer responds to his e-mails.
More loquacious with The Bitch on the subject of Fila, Wozniak adds, "He seems incapable of comprehending obvious moral issues with his use of my artwork and my identity."
Some of the acts were pure grindcore à la Godflesh, but many decibels were used far more subversively, particularly by Jessica Riley, who seemed to be channeling a staid Laurie Anderson, with a vocoder and simple soundboard. But then an intentional pratfall sent Riley and all of her equipment hurtling offstage and into the surprised but delighted crowd.
Nursing a Newcastle and a few bruises after her gig, Riley a tall, suit-clad blond wearing the horn-rimmed specs of an academician and toting a dainty aqua American Tourister overnight bag said, "I just decided I wanted to perform, so I put my name on the list and drove down here overnight from Boston." Riley returned to the stage later in the evening to recite a poem about her hatred for children and pets.
Otto Von Schirach, the region's reigning noise terrorist, played a brief but brilliant midnight set that combined electronica, screaming, and a real quartet of saxophone, violin, trombone, and drums.
Meanwhile across the bay, Jon Bon Jovi, seemingly unable to depart the area following his "concert" last week, was sucking down white wine and ousting patrons from their seats in order to accommodate his small entourage at RokBar on Washington Avenue in Miami Beach.
Getting Away with It
Doped up on heartworm meds recently, The Bitch found herself in a place as far from Miami as possible: Strayerville. It's a maddeningly odd yet oddly delightful place of backward-flying blimps, ashtray-flavor mints, and protective auras for sale, populated by people with names like Susie May and Dr. Spectacles. You can read all about it in the Parsley Advertiser, an occasional nonsense zine put out by 30-year-old Corey Kingsbury of Miami Shores.