When Mac Premo, a D.C.-born, RISD-educated artist, was forced to move to a new, smaller studio space in Brooklyn, he came to a terrible realization: There was no way he could bring along the hundreds of objects he'd accumulated, from dusty baseball cards to antique cans to torn hats. Premo couldn't bear the thought, so instead, the objects became his biggest work yet: the Dumpster Project, a giant reddish Dumpster full of carefully cataloged items from Premo's life, all numbered and narrated on his corresponding website.
"We define ourselves by what we choose to keep," Premo says.
His work is highlight at Pulse, a wide-ranging, photo and sculpture heavy fair that opened Thursday at the Ice Palace. Just look for the dumpster parked right in the middle of the fair's emerald green, hammock-studded lawns.
Click through for more photo highlights of the Basel satellite fair.
Premo's work marries the careful planning of a Smithsonian-curated exhibit with a personal narrative that brings life to his accumulated possessions. Inside the Dumpster, each object bears a tiny orange number that corresponds to an entry on his project's web page.
Take a battered Red Sox cap, which belonged to his Uncle George who used to play catch with him in Vermont as a "baseball-obsessed 8-year-old."
"I've never made anything more relatable than this piece," Premo says. "People keep stopping by and leaving their own items with their own stories. Everyone tells their own life stories through the items they hang on to, which is why people have connected so well to this project."
From its base inside the Ice Palace, Pulse broadcasts one of the mellower vibes amidst the Basel madness. Hungover hipsters sip bloody marys in the red hammocks strug between leafy trees, while the Fair's well spaced exhibits encourage a more leisurely pace than the echoing Miami Beach Convention Center.
That's not to say the fair's art is all mellow vibes and relaxing tones, though. Right away, visitors find an ominous, towering sculpture by Santiago Taccetti called "Smoke and Mirrors/Nothing to See Here," a fractured cube billowing smoke:
Inside Pulse, contemporary photography and sculpture dominate, mixed with a neon-flavored, trippy mix of painting and prints.
And what's a contemporary art fair without an assault rifle made out of candy?
The crowds at Pulse, at least early on Thursday, were a mostly mellow mix of photo-snapping art tourists and collectors. Said a German-sounding man nearby after studying Pieter Hugo's striking photo from Nigeria ("Mohammed Rabiu With Jamis"), "Holy shit, that's a hyena!"
There's an Art Basel metaphor in there somewhere, but we're enjoying the art too much to ferret it out:
Some of the fair's most creative work is on display inside the side Impulse tent, where solo exhibitors show off their works in person. Among the best are Jesse Barks eerie pictures of bros shotgunning Buds and wearing camo like fetish-ware, and the Japanese Mori Yu Gallery's tiny toy cars crossed with sushi rolls.
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But none will be more discussed than the space set up by Berlin-based artist Natascha Stellmach, who made headlines by "for her 2008 exhibition Set Me Free, in which the artist invited volunteers to share a joint rolled with the ashes of Kurt Cobain," according to Pulse organizers.
Her space in Impulse features scrawled grafitti reading "Fuck art for letting this shit happen" and a seat where she'll paint free tattoos of viewers reactions to her art:
Pulse Miami at the Ice Palace, 1400 North Miami Avenue, Miami FL, runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Call 212-255-2327 or visit pulse-art.com/miami.