Hands, Hickeys, and Hurly-Burly

Art Basel leaves its mark on Wynwood

There were so many people to navigate around at Pulse that it was impossible to catch more than a fleeting glimpse at much of the work, so I headed over to Photo Miami.

At the photo show, in its first edition, the crowd was anemic. A woman counting heads at the entrance mentioned that a little more than 2000 people had visited during the first three days of the fair. Outside, valets were busy trying to accommodate the few well-healed patrons fearful of parking on the streets nearby.

Inside, the New York-based Goedhuis Contemporary showed several exquisite works by Chinese photographers. Binding the Lost Souls: Huge Explosion, No 1, a spectacular c-print by Zheng Lianjie, depicted a work the artist created during seventeen days in 1993 with the assistance of students, farmers, and friends. The group collected more than 300 large bricks they found scattered along the Great Wall of China, bandaged them in red cloth, and arranged them along a 300-meter stretch between five fire towers on the wall, as the artist later documented in the photograph.

At the Pulse fair, work from Travis Somerville's Peckerwood Nation series stole the show
At the Pulse fair, work from Travis Somerville's Peckerwood Nation series stole the show

Local indie curator Nina Arias's booth featured Elizabeth Wild's juicy photos printed on plastic wrap. One piece depicted a woman sitting in front of a punching bag while she stuffed herself with chocolates. Tall Rickards displayed a pair of large photos of an overturned car near a tow truck under an eerily glowing Miami sunset, and Ali Prosch showed two photos of her legs peeking out from the beaded door of a tarted-up trailer.

Some of the funniest stuff cropped up at the NADA Fair, where sometimes I felt as if I were sardined inside a New York subway car during rush hour.

At Denmark's Kirkhoff Gallery, Kristoffer Akselbo's Malt-strom wowed spectators and captured the spirit of the rollicking parties that make Basel such a popular affair. It featured a shot of whiskey in an antique glass on a silver tray, and a hidden magnet under the piece made the amber liquid splash around.

New York's nonprofit space White Columns featured a one-color screen print by Simon Evans; the words "Buy Me I'm at An Art Fair" were scrawled on it as if by a child's hand. Commanding an unimaginable $200 apiece, the edition of 100 prints sold like the art world's version of those shitty T-shirts that relatives bring back as gifts from vacations. "We sold 69 of them so far," said Amie Scally, the gallery's curator. "We were cleaned out of nearly everything after the first two days. I just wish I would have had some time to see what else was going on."

Amen!

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