Secret Weirdness at Swampspace Gallery's Something Near, Somewhere Far

Hidden down a narrow, semi-secluded Design District street that's not much more than a backalley, Swampspace Gallery (3821 NE 1st Ct., Miami) is the appropriately tiny exhibition and gathering place that fronts artist Oliver Sanchez' studio. Unlike most Miami art spaces, this one is the size of your living room and it even feels like a sorta secret hang out spot in a shared house. With a name chosen by a committee of neighborhood cohorts, Swampspace is dragging the salon out of the museum and into the art squat. 

And right now, the gallery has its first show of 2010 on the walls. Cryptically and cleverly titled Something Near, Somewhere Far, the exhibition features video, collage, sculpture, and sketches by two Design and Architecture Senior High students, Azura Wånnman and Walter Latimer. Apparently, it's the first venture beyond DASH campus limits for either one of these kid artists. You know, it's their first sleepover at the squat. And that's pretty surprising because their work demonstrates the kind of assuredness and ease of execution you'd normally associate with twenty-something art schoolers.

To one side of Swampspace, Latimer's actually set up something that looks vaguely like your average living room. That is, if you overlook the details ... Sure, there's a bunch of furniture: a TV-VCR and some gold, antique-y frames on the walls and a chair. But the TV-VCR's playing a choppily edited and distorted video of some aggro topless guy in facepaint and costume, gyrating unnaturally to a hacked-up musical grind. The gold, antique-y frames hold a couple of sexually charged yet emotionally distant collages: 1) a boy literally removed from his clothes by cut-and-paste; and 2) a fragmented, shattered, repeated shot of a brown-haired beefcake. And the chair is no regular chair -- it's a chair with a faux-fur vagina down the center of its seat.

Meanwhile, over on the other side of the Swamp, Wånnman's produced a series of pencil sketches on mylar, punctuated by splashes of gold glitter. There's a girl whose 24k pigtails are levitating supernaturally from the sides of her head. And there's a too-tiny nymph sitting atop a finely crafted wooden horse that just happens to be standing in a pile of gold glitter leaves. And there are a few other flashes of fantasy, too. Not to mention, a quiet winter landscape video of her own that provides a delicate, snowy contrast to Latimer's more confrontational stuff. 

Anyway, today, tomorrow, or this coming Second Saturday ... You should detour down that Design District backalley, enter Swampspace, and join the art squat.

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