Best Art Fair (2013)

Miami Project

During Art Basel, spectacles are a dime a dozen. Think of pink snails, artist-designed carnivals, sex-themed roller coasters, and controversially sourced Banksy exhibits. More rare is art that's arresting purely for its artistic merit. That's just what Baselgoers discovered at Miami Project Art Fair, which quietly set up shop in the ever-expanding cluster of midtown art-fair tents for its Basel debut in 2012. The newbie fair filled its 65,000-square-foot space with works from 65 galleries. Among them, artist Alejandro Cartagena showed his Car Poolers series, poignant photographs captured from a highway overpass documenting Mexican day laborers transported to and from work in pickup truck flatbeds. Nina Katchadourian's Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style, which are exactly what they sound like — pictures taken in airplane bathrooms showing the artist dressed in Dutch-period garments made of tissue paper — added a bit of tongue-in-cheek modernity to Renaissance-era portraiture. And Miami native Jen Stark returned from L.A. with her trademark colorful paper sculptures. Miami Project did get away with a few stunts: Karen Finley spent the fair's run painting canvases inspired by "sext" messages, and Joe Zane displayed a taxidermied Chihuahua dressed as a princess. Still, of all the fairs during Art Basel in 2012, this one most gracefully straddled the line between respectability and entertainment. Is classy restraint the next hot Art Basel trend? Doubtful. But at least you'll know where to find it in 2013 — Miami Project will return during Art Basel this year.


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