Beach balls and rubber gloves; empty potato chip bags; recycled TV sets and virtual reality goggles. If these don’t sound like the raw materials for your typical art fair, that’s because Satellite Art Show is far from your run-of-the-mill showcase.
Named Best Art Fair in New Times’ 2019 “Best of Miami” issue, Satellite is known for presenting a quirkier, more playful alternative to the traditional fair experience. This year's edition is located in the heart of Wynwood and delivers once again on its promise of sharing an eclectic mix of work by international artists. Full of pieces that spark the imagination and inspire curiosity, Satellite remains one of the best places to meet emerging young artists and engage with their work in unexpected ways.
Satellite feels like an artists’ playground, evoking an Alice in Wonderland-esque sense of discovery. There’s something to explore around every corner, as you'll find yourself wandering into strange rooms, peering behind curtains, and climbing spiral staircases. Much of the work is interactive, or at the very least invites you to get up close in a way that’s not usually possible in typical museums and galleries. Sit on a chair made of pool noodles in an installation by Nice’n Easy; surround yourself with images of falling, rippling water and rainbow geometric shapes in a floor-to-ceiling video projection by Holly Danger; or crawl inside Emily Klass’ Hold on Forever, a cave-like space constructed with ferns, paintings, handwoven textiles, and fishing net among other materials. Where else can you find a giant inflatable hand covered with rubber gloves, such as the one made by artist Colleen Terrell Comer, and then weave your way through the lights, mirrors and shiny crystalline sculptures of Julia Sinelnikova’s The Fairy Organ Realm?
Several of this year’s artists also ask viewers to grapple with environmental concerns and the effects of climate change. A colorful installation by Secret Project Robot called Humans on the Verge of Extinction: An Archeological Study of the Final Days critiques excess and wastefulness by imagining the findings of a post-apocalyptic archeological dig—from images of plastic grocery bags and generic cleaning products to potato chip bags coating the floor. How would these future anthropologists analyze our culture and display their findings?
Brazilian artist Carla Maldonado’s multimedia installation Amazon Inferno draws attention to the burning of the Amazon Rainforest and the plight of indigenous communities there, with their land under threat from the current government headed by Jair Bolsonaro. Prints of newspaper articles from recent months cover the walls, where a blinking red light emphasizes the urgency of the crisis. On the floor nearby, a TV set plays video of the lush green rainforest as we like to imagine it, while another displays footage of indigenous activists from Brazil speaking at the UN’s Climate Week in New York this year.
In her photo series Light Pollution, French artist Lucie Robinson examines the damage of invisible air and light pollution, juxtaposing it with the seduction of living in an industrialized world. The dark room, wallpapered in velvet, is easy to miss if you walk by too quickly. But it would be a shame to skip her images — each taken in a single shot — of subjects covered in colorful pigments that represent the hidden pollutants. Visitors are invited to participate by applying pigments to the artist or to each other, helping to illustrate the way our everyday actions contribute to the spread of these toxins.
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Some of this year’s Satellite participants also use technology to experiment with the way art can be exhibited or experienced by onlookers. To access his work, new media artist Mark Ramos invites visitors to connect to one of four unique wifi networks, which carry names such as #caribbean_diaspora and #intersectional_cyberfeminism. Once connected, a variety of videos, animations, and audio recordings centered around the theme become available on your smartphone. For his exhibit, multimedia artist Juan Bravo uses virtual reality to take viewers on a visual journey through time, delving into everything from colonization and the industrial revolution to the rise of the web and even the hypothetical colonization of Mars.
In each room or area, the artists themselves are often present, ready to answer questions and talk about their work in a casual, accessible manner. But even when they aren’t there to explain things, it’s easy to be drawn into the work on display, to let something catch your eye and decide to follow your curiosity. For best results, wander around Satellite at your own pace, and check out the installations in whatever order you like. If you've ever read a choose-your-own-adventure book, you're well-prepared to experience Satellite.