Portuguese artist Leonor Antunes, currently based in Berlin, is no stranger to lofty goals.
As a site-specific artist who relishes research in the creative process, it would be hard to imagine the comparisons between her sculptural installation at PAMM with past works of a similar nature in Europe and South America. However, upon further reflection there is something concrete and rich to Miami's "shorter" history as a city.
Weathered by its geographical location in regards to the Caribbean and the Americas, its isolation in relation to the contiguous United States, and the incessant flux of immigration and many other examples of Miami's constant evolution, Antunes must've had her hands full in allowing the research to guide and develop her take on the Magic City.
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So is the title of the project, a secluded and pleasant land. in this land I wish to dwell righteous praise or cheeky criticism? It works on many levels as both and it is reflective of the current state of architectural affairs around town. The disregard to capitalization (save for the self-awareness of placement), the fact that Miami does suffer from some sort of seclusion, that it could be a pleasant place to live in (think of all the new Central and South American neighbors of the last decade) are all indicative of the artist's understanding of Miami's evolution.
Perhaps it is looking too much into the meaning of a single letter, but the lone capitalized "I" in the title also reveals a truth gleaned from the research of this town and how self-absorbed, self-aggrandized one can become after dropping roots into the limestone. But that might just be cheeky supposition.
Like all her work, Antunes deploys mathematics and disparate materials like cork, leather, brass ropes, and nets to create a modernist vision that is informed, along with her research, by her interests in architecture and furniture design. While there is a seeming pragmatism to the nature of this large-scale installation, there's a symbiotic relationship with elements of mid-20th century Latin American kinetic art and the modern world's necessity for interactivity.
With the museum's overall look hearkening the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, it is a lofty mirror to familiarize the interior of the Project Gallery by investing the same sense of grandeur and sky-reaching of Miami.
Leonor Antunes, a secluded and pleasant land. in this land I wish to dwell will be on display at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami) until January 205. Call 305-375-3000 or visit pamm.org.
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