Our 2015 Wishlist for the Arts in Miami
Photo by George Martinez
Now is the season of resolutions. You're likely making them right now, half committing to a set of a resolves so familiar that they're the clichéd punchline of late night hosts. But regardless of commitment, we make resolutions anyway; likely with hope that welcoming a new year with a list of tiny wishes might somehow be transformative. Maybe the resolution has a small power, that the very act of identifying the need for change is in itself a kind of beginning.
But if we believe that the resolution carries such power, then why limit a new year's wishlist to simply bettering ourselves? Why not ask whole institutions, whole communities, for something a little bit better, a little more improved?
Keeping with the expectations of a new year, we've decided to make our own wishlist -- a communal resolution of sorts -- of what we'd like to see more and less of in Miami's arts community.
Miami's museums and galleries garnered quite a few national headlines this year. Sadly, they were mostly about all the art we managed to break. First Maximo Caminero's unappreciated and incoherent protest; then an inebriated Justin Vallee purposefully (?) stepped on Daniel Arsham's installation at Locust; and finally another drunk Miamian broke Gean Moreno and Ernesto Oroza's installation at the Pérez. This year, let's try to be a little more coherent, a little less drunk, and bit more respectful. And PAMM, please do a better job of protecting the art.
Even More Diversity:
Women artists and artists of color fared poorly at this year's Art Basel, but Basel isn't Miami. The Magic City's most distinctive feature is, perhaps, it's diversity. And between exhibitions like Spinello Projects' "Auto Body" and the artistic explorations of Edouard Duval Carrié, women and artists of color are likely more represented than they are in major artistic hubs like New York. Miami's population is so restlessly diverse that it deserves even more exploration and representation. Miami has a chance to show the art world what a truly diverse arts community looks like, we should seize it.
Photo by Chris Carter
If Miamians' affinity for breaking art garnered too much national attention, then our bellicose arts institutions and their moneyed donors came in second place. The lengthy (but now settled) legal battle between the Museum of Contemporary Art and Institute of Contemporary Art was an ugly and unnecessary mess. Here's hoping that in 2015, museum boards can prioritize the interests of the communities they serve over the privileges of patronage.
Miami has always seemed like a city on the proverbial cusp - as though it's suspended in a permanent leap, yet never quite there. This might be in large part because Miami's own artistic identity has always been in flux. But in 2014 artists across the city seemed to all converge on the issue of identity: from Little Haiti's attention grabbing #iHaitiBasel to Teo Castellanos' revival of Fat Boy, Guiccivuitton's witty play on the city's artificiality and Richard Blanco's Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood. Even after all of this, it seems like what we've only cracked the surface. What does it mean to make art in Miami and what does "Miami art" even look like?
There were moments this year that hinted at the power of slipping politics into art. Between the protests stemming from the death of graffiti tagger Israel "Reefa" Hernandez and other young black men killed by the police, Miami artists reaffirmed the power of resistance and its necessary place in the visual arts. Here's hoping that 2015 brings more of that kind of action.
It seemed like this year, more so than even previous years, Art Basel was dedicated solely to branding, to marketing and selling the lifestyle of the one percent. Nearly everything seem sponsored by liquor or luxury brands. And this stretched across Basel, too. Art has become the latest branding fad for Miami's multi-billion dollar real estate developers like Faena House and CMC Group who have both purchased quite a bit of cultural capital. The patronage of brands - the co-opting for art - is something we should all be a bit more wary of.
More Public Funding:
Building strong, lasting institutions requires a long term investment from Miami and its citizens. So let's stop giving money to crackpot real estate investors or wealthy baseball team owners and instead invest in PAMM like we promised.
That's our wishlist. What would you like to see either more or less of?
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