Because this is Miami, you would likely be inclined to think that any event related to Art Basel Miami Beach is one with a slew of loafer-wearing, bespectacled artsy folk trying to converse over a pounding soundtrack from a guest DJ. But this was not the case last night when we checked out what was on poolside at the Deauville Hotel. We found a laid-back, humming group of young curators, artists, and fairgoers curiously eying 's Manual Transmission Miami at NADA.
The one-night-only event was conjured by the clever crew of the Humble Arts Foundation,
a New York-based non-profit that fosters emerging talent in contemporary photography. The theory behind Manual Transmission Miami was a fluid, organic
installation of five analog slide projectors cradling five original,
Imagery ranged from an intimate portrait of ordinary citizens to abstract renderings of urban environments. Curators Patrick Amsellem, Nathaniel Ward, and Joy Drury Cox all have backgrounds in conceptual photography and installation.
The result was a quietly engaging, satisfying foray into art within the public space. "People could come together in this unexpected environment," says Ward, "and it's not a place where you're used to seeing this kind of visual art (maybe dance, maybe performance). But we wanted to activate that space so people could enjoy the work removed from the 'white cube' gallery setting."
Humble co-founders Amani Olu and Jon Feinstein
have already staked their claim at NADA this year, displaying works from
New Photography Grant Winner Kirsten Kay Thoen, MOMA P.S.1 Studio Visit
artist Kate Steciw, and rising stars Heather Rasmussen and Matthew
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Thankfully, the project didn't suffer the curse of outdoor entertainment being nothing more than a pretty backdrop for social butterflies sipping at cocktails (a la the Delano poolside jaunt). There was visible, genuine curiosity and wonder: people stopped to observe and converse about what those screens were saying. Humble's cool, minimal approach to photographic installation was as much a visual treat as an intellectual teaser. An array of limited edition beer bottles, conceived by the Grolsch SwingArt Program prize winner Michael Bühler-Rose added some shimmer to the breezy evening.
The buzz about NADA 2010, with its keen eye in riding the New Wave of contemporary art, has spelled out significant success for young curators and artists in its second edition in Miami. With this creative outing, Humble Arts became a proud representative of that trend.