Collabo's Sixth Iteration Promises to Be a Wild Art Party

Collabo 5 at Bakehouse Art Complex in 2015.
Collabo 5 at Bakehouse Art Complex in 2015. Photo by Monica McGivern
Collabo shows have never been typical art shows. The last iteration, in 2015, included roller-skating performance art, paintings of Republican candidates at which viewers were invited to throw shoes, and a "chicken piano," a contraption that was rigged to allow live chickens to play sporadic musical notes. Now, four years later, Collabo is back for a sixth iteration, but guests will have only one night — Saturday, August 31 — to experience the unconventional gallery space.

Asked why he chose to revive Collabo after a four-year hiatus, organizer Justin Long says, “It just kind of happened upon finding the space.” After working with Mana Contemporary earlier this year, Long approached the art collective about hosting a Collabo show, and the Mana crew jumped at the idea.

Of the spaces available, they settled on a three-story former Payless ShoeSource store in downtown Miami's 777 International Mall, which has become a cornerstone of the local underground art scene. Because the Collabo space is connected to the mall, participating artists will also be able to use some of the building’s additional studio space.

Once he had the space secured, Long reached out to former participants to gauge their interest. “Everyone was really excited and onboard, and it just kind of spun from there,” he says.

The Collabo shows, known for their playful, unconventional, and sometimes downright crazy atmosphere, have only one rule: No solo pieces are allowed. Artists must collaborate with one another, and that teamwork inevitably leads to creative, genre-bending projects. “It’s very low pressure on the artists,” Long says. “They get to really experiment and have fun and do whatever they like. They’re not really worried about selling paintings or anything like that.”
Nearly 100 artists are participating this year, representing a wealth of media, backgrounds, and styles. Long can’t say much yet about what the work will look like — even he won't see any of it until installation week in the days leading up to the show — but he guarantees that all participating artists will present never-before-seen pieces and that the experimental Collabo ethos will prevail.

“There are definitely going to be some musical performances," he says. "There’s going to be a lot of big installation-type work. There are dancers. There are videos. It’s pretty much the whole gamut of what’s out there.”

To prep, Long has held a couple of walkthroughs so participants can get a sense of the space. “Just having all the artists come together has sparked new collaborations,” he says. “New pieces have come just out of that.”

Expect Collabo 6 to be popular: Long estimates 1,500 people showed up before 10 p.m. at the 2015 edition. But above all, expect to be entertained. “You’re going to see some really wild new work and also have the opportunity to maybe meet and talk with the artists themselves,” he says. “I think it’s just going to be a big, wild art kind of party.”

Collabo 6... All In! 6 p.m. to midnight Friday, September 13, at Mana Contemporary Miami at 777 International Mall, 141 E. Flagler St., Miami; 305-573-0371; Admission is free.
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Suzannah Friscia is a freelance arts and culture journalist based in Miami. She has contributed to the Wall Street Journal, Dance Magazine, Pointe, and other publications and earned a master's degree from the Columbia School of Journalism.
Contact: Suzannah Friscia