Miami's Wynwood art walk offers everything from cheerleaders to Aborigines
Monique Diaz's An Account of the Unnatural, on display at Diaspora Vibe.
In spite of the blistering mercury burning up thermostats and keeping all but the most dogged culture vultures cinched to the nearest air-conditioning unit, this Saturday night's Wynwood gallery crawl promises a lineup of shows and events that will give you plenty to pant about, not to mention ubiquitous complimentary cocktails to cool you.
The expansive multiculti offerings range from video of a high school drill team, to aboriginal Dreamtime paintings, to a sprawling group video show exploring concepts of migration in art. There's also an exhibit boasting 500 historic and contemporary Latin album covers riffing on the relationship between graphic design and music, capped by a live concert featuring Spanish music icons Nacho Canut and electro-pop band Fangoria's Alaska to ratchet up the vibe.
First off, at 7 p.m., check out Katie Murray's exuberant depiction of a Queens, New York high school all-girl drill squad executing a complex series of precision movements at World Class Boxing (170 NW 23rd St., Miami), where the Big Apple photographer's first video is on view.
As the young women display their graceful and flowing moves on the hardwood floor of their school's gym in Girls in 4/4, the booming sound of their agile and powerful footsteps fills the gallery with a rhythmic, thunderous din.
Murray spent four years filming footage for the video to capture the dynamic nature of the team, which included the artist's younger sister. Murray began by using still photography but found it too static to capture her collective portrait of youthful femininity, contemporary ritual, and the nature of urban pop culture and group dynamics.
The resulting video aptly conveys her subjects' lithe bodies in forceful motion as they perform regimented routines that emphasize transitional movements, spatial synchronicity, and the expressive emotional gestures typically associated with dancers.
Murray, who earned her MFA at Yale in 2000, is also a frequent contributor to the New York Times, Fortune, Vice, and Sweet 16.
World Class Boxing is also showcasing "Mystic Visage," a compelling group show that explores the mask as an object used to both disguise and protect, empowering the user to articulate the most veiled thoughts more freely while imbuing rituals with mystery and power. Culled from the Scholl Collection and curated by Desiree Cronk, the exhibit includes sculpture, drawings, and photography and boasts names such as Cindy Sherman, Gabriel Orozco, Fergus Greer, and Jack Strange. Call 305-438-9908 or visit worldclassboxing.org.
Downwind at Diana Lowenstein Fine Arts (2043 N. Miami Ave., Miami), "The Inspired Dream: Contemporary Aboriginal Art" corrals a dozen artist from Down Under in an exhibit showcasing art inspired by Australia's indigenous belief systems and the region's unique creation myths.
Once marginalized by the Western art world, aboriginal art has earned international acclaim over the past four decades, and the gallery is presenting a revealing survey by some of its most talented practitioners. Artists represented include Betty Mbitjana, Walangkura Napanangka, Ningura Napaurrula, Takariya Napaltjari, and Gabriella Possum Nungurrayi.
Many of the works on display make reference to the "Dreamtime," during which creation is believed to have taken place. The term can be understood as the "timeless time" or a period of formative creating or perpetual creation. The Dreamtime involved the creation ancestors' travels, still followed today by those who seek traditional wisdom along dream paths leading to important cultural sites all over the country.
Through this fashion, art links Aboriginal people not only to their history but also to the land itself. A new generation of artists is keeping the tradition alive by tapping the distinctive, eye-catching symbols and designs.
One can discover the swirling, abstract dots and dashes in vibrant patterns such as Ngaminya, a large canvas by Napaurrula that appears to depict the cosmic whirl of a nascent universe in rich, monochromatic tarry-black, bone-white, and oxblood-red hues.
The "Dreaming" stories are considered intellectual property among the diverse indigenous Australians and are passed on protectively from generation to generation, especially among those who retain tribal connections.
For example, Gabriella Possum Nungurrayi "owns" the "Seven Sisters" Dreaming, also known as the story of the Pleiades, a tradition she inherited from her maternal line. For those seeking insight into a largely marginalized culture, this is a rare opportunity to do so outside a museum setting. Call 305-576-1804 or visit dlfinearts.com.
Taking center stage at Diaspora Vibe Gallery (3938 N. Miami Ave., Miami) in the Design District is a group video exhibit featuring artists from throughout the United States, England, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and Peru.
"Exodus" seeks to examine the use of video to generate dialogue and investigate the media's influence on world events, popular culture, and the migration of artists in society. All works on display will run concurrently and continuously in the gallery, creating an unruly techno Tower of Babel that challenges traditional representations of art and perceptual notions of time. While the concept seems confounding on paper, the exhibit yields some interesting gems if one takes the time to wade through the visual noise.
Catch Chantal James's The Wasteland: Funabem's Story, a four-minute piece narrating the daily grind of an impoverished worker at Jardim Gramacho, South America's largest landfill and the communities that have sprung up surreptitiously on the outskirts of the Dante-esque dump site. Located near the eternally hip-grinding confines of Rio de Janeiro, the landfill receives nearly 12,000 tons of garbage a day and is home to 20,000 damned souls, most of whom earn their keep sorting through raw refuse for their sustenance or selling recyclable materials to survive.
Also at Diaspora is A Tale of Self-Mutilation and Self-Insemination, a two-minute animation by Monique Diaz that misleadingly sounds like a DIY manual for an addled French teenager but is based on a wacky comparison between Cinderella's pushy stepsisters and an aspiring rap video girl. It's supposed to be a stinging commentary on the "unnatural means through which women or men come to power and attain monetary status" only to end up depleting their resources by supporting their parents in their old age. This is the sort of muddled concept that can make Second Saturday trawls hit-or-miss, but it's also a source of provocative arguments and great fun. Call 305-573-4046 or visit diasporavibe.net.
At Wynwood's cavernous Awarehouse (550 NW 29th St., Miami), you can test your pop cultural chops during a stroll down memory lane with "Mira Que Lindas," an exhibit featuring 500 striking Latin album covers celebrating the steamy relationship between bleeding-edge graphic design and the music that inspires a visual artist's creative passions.
The historic and contemporary album covers were chosen for their vivid impact and as the background for a comprehensive program on the music industry in the digital age.
The show is organized by graphic design factory Zona de Obras and presented by Miami's Spanish Cultural Center, Awarehouse, Casa America, Fabrika, Gibson, and the Latin Recording Academy.
At 8 p.m. this Saturday, Fangoria — Spain's iconoclastic pop duo that has appeared in several Pedro Almodóvar films — will perform cuts from its new album, Absolutamente. Accompanying the pair will be Spanish rock band Las Nancys Rubias and DJ Mr. Pauer, who be on hand for a stab at the turntables. The concert is free to the public, but a $10 donation is suggested. Call 305-448-9677 or 305-576-4004 or visit ccemiami.org.
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