Art Basel's weirdest: Balls in a jar and nude pig wrestling

Sure, the big-money Warhols get all the headlines, but we all know what really gets your pulse jacked about Art Basel and its satellite fairs: the free booze and the really weird art.

Sometimes it's hard to recall the latter through the head-pounding hangover left by the former, but even after all the barrels of free Grolsch we chugged, a few truly bizarre moments stood out.

Where better to start a tour of Basel's wild side than a live, naked lady smeared in mud and rolling around with hogs in a pen? That's exactly what the (lucky?) fairgoers at Wynwood's Primary Projects watched thanks to artist Miru Kim, who spent all weekend performing I Like Pigs and Pigs Like Me in the buff with real pigs.

A pill-filled coffin at Scope Art Fair 2011.
Ian Witlen
A pill-filled coffin at Scope Art Fair 2011.

"I noticed that their anatomy and skin color is close to ours," Kim says, explaining the origins of the performance art piece. "Pigs are sensitive, intelligent creatures, and when I enter the pen with them on these farms they react with fear or curiosity at first."

Fear and curiosity are exactly the emotions many experienced at the Seven fair, just down the block, when they came across photographer Yishay Garbasz's work. A series of nude self-photos track the artist's gradual transformation through surgery and hormones from man into woman, ending with the coup de grace — the artist's post-op testicles, floating in a jar.

At Fountain, the scrappy upstart on North Miami Avenue, visitors found the world's greatest vending machine, created by Coby Kennedy. The bright red machine, called Supply & Demand, displays its wares in numbered bubbles like any other gas station dispenser — except instead of sandwiches, it's packed with AK-47s, Wild Rose whiskey, and box cutters.

A similar risqué take on daily life turned heads at Scope, where Maximilian Wiedemann packed an old-school, wooden coffin with a rainbow explosion of pharmaceutical pills, condoms, bullets, and cigarettes with a stenciled-in message in case you didn't get the gist: "What you put in is what you get out."

One of our favorites, though, wasn't as insane on the inside as it looked from afar: Parked right in the middle of Pulse's shiny green lawn at the Ice Palace in the heart of Wynwood sat a rusty, reddish-colored dumpster. Did someone forget to take out the trash?

But visitors who looked closer found the inside of the massive trash bin packed with carefully curated items — from hats to baseball cards to old tin cans — and their owner, a genial Brooklyn artist named Mac Premo. After getting booted from a larger studio, he explained, he decided to catalogue all his accumulated stuff and turn it into art rather than toss it in a real dumpster.

"We're defined by what we choose to keep," he says.

 
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Giving some lessons in art history you could have mention, that Miru Kims work refers to Joseph Beuys' "I Like America and America Likes Me" from 1974. http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/...

 
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