Art Basel Miami Beach

Despite the Rain, PAMM's Dimensions Performance Dazzled

One of the most anticipated Museum events during Miami Art Week, PAMM Presents: Dimensions with Ryan McNamara and Devonté Hynes (AKA Blood Orange), was under threat of heavy rain. Sure enough, just as over a couple thousand guests started to fill the museum's wraparound veranda, storm clouds were brewing, leaving passageways swamped. Yet, as showtime rolled around, the clouds parted for the two-hour performance — a spectacle that mixed music, dance, and song. 

As you made your way through the Pérez Art Museum Miami last night, you encountered small stages peppered about. Each mini-stage came complete with a musician riffing away, and a dancer making sound visible through movement. For example, Hynes strummed along to his bass guitar as the dancer on his stage undulated to carefully embody the staccato rhythms of his instrument.  At first, each musician-dancer pair seemed to be improvising — playing off the moment to create something truly unique. Yet, once the first hour was up, the stages started converging on each other. Slowly but surely, a group of black-clad producers began the task of moving the geometric stages, eight in all. The glacial pace recalled shifting tectonic plates, a long but inevitable natural formation that seems to gang-up on you. 

Once all eight stages coalesced into one large performance space, the full picture came into view. Much like an unfocused photograph, or an impressionist painting, whose subject only comes into full view when observed at a far enough distance, you only got the full idea of the performance once all the performers come together as one. 

Each dancer now repeated the same sequence they had initially performed; but united on one platform, they synced their movements with each other paralleling the harmony now shared by the fully realized orchestra accompanying them.

Despite the muted beauty of the piece, there was an underlying point that the artists and curators were hoping to strike. The work was meant to speak to the dynamic — yet often isolating — cultural landscape in South Florida. 

"You won't see a literal re-interpretation of European or Moorish revival architecture or high-rises at the water's edge," explains PAMM curator Emily Mello, when New Times spoke with her back in October, "but rather the longing for an imagined mythic past and speculative future experienced in fragments of music and choreography drawing from disparate genres."

The coming together of the disparate themes and genres speaks to Miami's imagined future. As outsiders, McNamara and Hynes sought to illustrate what they saw as both the strength and frailty in the town's cultural scene. By fusing the disparate narratives that make up Miami's soul, the town can hope to overcome the obstacles before it, and take a place as a world center for the arts. 

PAMM Presents was an artistic spectacle. A happening that spoke to the Museum's surroundings, and to the media extravaganza that is Art Basel and Miami Art Week at large. The collaboration speaks to the nature of the increasing ties between the art world and the entertainment industry. Perhaps one day, those two worlds will soon be indistinguishable from one another. 

As the dancers wrapped up their performance, clouds started to move back in. This time, the deluge was heavier than before, drowning out the roar of the crowd as they huddled for safety indoors. While the audience thinned, the stage was left bare with nothing but thunderous rain beating down on its surface. 
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Neil Vazquez is an arts and entertainment writer who works at the intersection of highbrow and lowbrow A Miami native and Northwestern University graduate, he usually can be found sipping overpriced coffee, walking his golden retriever, or doing yoga.
Contact: Neil Vazquez