Fringe Projects Curator Amanda Sanfilippo Talks the Future of Public Art in Miami

Amanda Sanfilippo is one of the younger curatorial voices working in Miami today. Trained in the Northeast and London's Sotheby's Institute of Art, she's had experience working in both places and has been rising through the Miami art ranks through Legal Art and now with Locust Projects. Sanfilippo's attitude towards art is a blend of academic knowledge, community/spatial relation and appreciation for the contemporary.

That she manages to filter all of that into a cohesive explanation without suffering the pedantic nature most purveyors of conceptual work harbor is her strongest asset, and one she uses when developing and curating work like that of Fringe Projects in downtown Miami. Part of the 2014's DWNTWN Art Days this month, Fringe featured six public site-specific projects by selected artists.

In her short time working in South Florida, she has managed to find the city's voice and has proven that art's greatest gift lies within its availability for all and not the elite few.

See also: DWNTWN Art Days: Fringe Projects' Public Installations and Frost's New Maker Space

New Times: Tell us about the relationship between the Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and Miami-Dade County Art in Public Places (AIPP) and how their vision for revamping the area coincides with Fringe Projects.

Amanda Sanfilippo: This is the first year that Art in Public Places has partnered with the DDA. It's an exciting evolution and trailblazing move for a government-based public art agency to take on, and proves that the city is embracing cultural advancement in a meaningful way that is on par with the most sophisticated cities in the world in terms of the production and support of contemporary art. AIPP has historically commissioned permanent public art with funds that are a percentage of new construction, this is a new direction.

You work with exhibitions and "dialogue-based programming and development for contemporary art institutions." How important is dialogue in engaging downtown Miami's current renaissance?

My work in this realm, most prominently with the Locust Roundtables which are open format discussions on topics in contemporary art proposed and moderated by the Miami art community and beyond, connects to these downtown projects by fostering criticality and legibility. The Fringe are challenging projects that can be understood on many levels, with or without academic equipment since they are in the public realm, but their deeper conceptual and contextual read is so much richer when there is a current of dialogue that opens them up.

It's exciting to think about Domingo Castillo's practice as reacting or moving beyond artists' work such as Jeremy Deller or Tino Sehgal, or Thomas Hirschhorn, or the Situationist International. It's exciting to contextualize Nicolas Lobo's work in Decadent Literature and discuss phenomenology.

It's great to connect to wider concerns and threads within contemporary art on a global scale, see how work is relevant or groundbreaking, which some of these pieces really are. To a degree, it's even about thinking about these kinds of site-determined, temporary public realm practices as a genre of work, with examples such as Francis Alys and Superflex, and Bik Van der Pol. It's also about considering the kinds of impacts of commissioning agencies for these practices, such as Artangel and Creative Time, have in the trajectory of contemporary art.

This being your second year curating this project, what is your personal vision for the area now that a two-year stamp of your efforts has graced DWNTWN Art Days?

Downtown is a fascinating place and is an incredibly rich platform for inquiry because it is undergoing a lot of transition. Simply because it is urban, it is loaded with issues of that kind of context. It is changing and Kevin Arrow and Barron Sherer's living archive as part of their project is really capturing that in an incredibly authentic way.

Last year's projects were scattered over a wider area, so they were able to take on more truly fringe, in-between, and rapidly developing sites like vacant lots slated for development, etc. Places in transition or non-places. This year we worked within a one-mile radius of the Miami Center for Architecture and Design, which was a much more established urban experience and less destination-based. Because of that, the projects function more as interventions. Last year, the sites and the way artists were working with them highlighted different issues, such as the growth and sprawl of downtown, the agendas of property developers with such pieces as Daniel Frazier's, or the tensions within neighborhoods such as Brickell with Trenton Duerksen. Yet both sets of projects really function as "wrong places" as in Miwon Kwon, where work exists in unexpected ways.

You've worked in New York City, Burlington, and London. What are the biggest differences in the art scenes and what type of attitudes/voices have you seen in these vastly diverse places?

What a great question. Working and living among different artist communities helps to distill the kinds of integrity of work, as well create a climate where context-specificity is really powerful. My interest in these kinds of practices developed out of seeing how an artist could work with a site or indeed city -- wider context of place as a base line for the production of new work. For me, I see this as not only simply a factor of inspiration but also that of a practice -- research based or context based. In this thinking I'm really inspired by curators like Claire Doherty.

What was your approach to last year's project? What was your approach this year? Is the radius for the project of any particular significance?

I really wanted to give artists a chance this year to work context specifically. Last year I was asking for work that considered their site as part of the work, with an option to choose from several options or propose. This year, a fundamental difference is that the projects are truly site-determined, as in the artists chose their sites as the most important part of their idea, and the locations became an important aspect and extension of the pieces. This is an exciting thing to do and really requires an intense level of engagement with the world, artistically, curatorially, and administratively as a commissioning body.

This year, I was also interested in the kind of variability of medium specificity that could be translated through public realm practice. For instance Barron Sherer and Kevin Arrow's project is present but barely physical as a digital platform, Nic Lobo's piece exists both as physical objects but also as fleeting performance in the form of perfume released into the air. Moira Holohan's piece is performative.

What can we expect from Fringe Projects in the future and where do you see the symbiosis of this work going?

It is so bold and impressive for Art in Public Places and the DDA to take on this important new genre of commissions. My vision would be to produce an ongoing series of them year-round like Creative Time, Artangel, Public Art Fund, or Art Production Fund, as an ongoing initiative and creating amazing opportunities for both artists and the public, and to help continue establishing Miami as an important and serious production center for critical contemporary art. There have been conversations also about establishing a Biennale for Miami in which Art Basel Miami Beach is an important stop on the calendar, rather than a driving force.

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