Basel's Weirdest Art: Vaginas, Frozen Castro, and Crack Baby

Tens of thousands of people packed dozens of Basel-week fairs for all kinds of reasons: to buy and sell masterpieces, to network, to see the next big visionaries before they blow up. But let's be honest. You probably attended for the same reason most folks did: to ogle the weirdest art you could find.

New Times carefully combed through millions of exhibits to find the five craziest pieces on display this past weekend. (For photos of all the work, check out riptidemiami.com.)

Plucked geese: At Art Miami, Shen Shaomin's work turned heads and stomachs thanks to his sculpture of two perfectly lifelike Canadian geese, completely plucked of their feathers. If the nude geese weren't creepy enough, tiny motors inside the birds caused them to jerk around spontaneously as spectators leaned in. One visitor, 16-year-old Joseph Castro, nearly jumped out of his shoes. "[It's] psychedelic," Castro said. "This is all very strange to me." You can say that again.


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The dildo trailer: A classic Airstream trailer was parked right in the middle of South Beach's Collins Park. Spectators who peeked inside didn't find an urban camping trip, but a roomful of blown-glass dildos. Or not! Artist Randy Polumbo, who previously made a flower out of butt plugs and other sex toys, says the glass works aren't necessarily phalli. "One could say they are pistils and stamens," he says. "Saying these shapes are dildos is like calling the Washington Monument one." Which it totally is.

Castro and Mao on ice: This year's winner for most photographed work might be Eugenio Merino's terrifying masterpiece: eerily realistic, fleshy sculptures of Fidel Castro and Mao Zedong (with freakishly oversize heads), frozen into replica Coca-Cola machines. "I've had a very positive response," the 37-year-old artist said. "I even had a Cuban cop pose with Fidel."

A wall full of vaginas giving birth: Given the starring role penises always play in the art world, it was nice to see ladyparts get their due throughout Basel week. But could the world have done without artist Allison Kotzig's contribution? That all depends on whether you really needed to see a wooden wall studded with dozens of bizarrely lifelike vaginas spewing tiny babies.

Crack baby in a Prada blanket: Look, it's an underweight infant shot up with tubes on life support. Except he's wrapped in designer Prada blankets! It's like, a commentary, man, on society and commercialism and, oh, never mind. Take a picture of the terrifying crack baby and congratulate Merino. He made this one too.

Ily Goyanes and Jacob Katel contributed to this story.

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