Typoe Takes His Signature Style to Miami Beach Hotel

One of the biggest art projects currently underway in Miami is being steered by the Faena Group. In addition to a highly anticipated cultural space designed by OMA, Rem Koolhaas’s architecture firm, there are also several buildings emerging across several blocks between 32nd and 35th Streets, from the Atlantic Ocean to Indian Creek. This ensemble will come to define the Faena District Miami Beach, an ambitious endeavor for the city. (The Group is named after its founder Alan Faena; in an interesting turn of linguistic coincidence faena is Spanish for task, an appropriate attribution). The group has had tremendous success with a similar project in a once blighted area of Buenos Aires, which is now thriving.

Since the Faena District is currently under construction, the Group wanted to offer a glimpse of their artistic vision through an innovative series of works at nearby Casa Claridge’s. Though this historic hotel has numerous spaces to install art (from walls to a striking atrium), the Faena Group decided to turn to the humble elevator as the literal vehicle for their current project, aptly titled ELEVATE. Since the project’s inauguration for Miami Beach Art Basel 2014 three artists have been given carte blanche to take over the elevator at Casa Claridge’s. Working within this confined space Cristina Lei Rodriguez and Consuelo Castañeda—the first two artists—have recreated a ritzy mine and a Mexican baroque cathedral, respectively. The elevator’s current incarnation is in the hands of Typoe, a well-known Miami artist who gained attention for his memorable graffiti art. With hundreds of magnets and decals—letters, kitschy souvenirs from a local Walgreen’s, kiddie stickers—Typoe created a veritable alphabet/symbol soup for Getting Up (2015). With the walls painted black and objects covering all surfaces, viewers are so immersed in the soup that it is easy to lose one’s orientation. 

ELEVATE evokes the discrete nature characteristic of elevators, especially in historic buildings. These are first and foremost utilitarian spaces meant to be hidden, occupying a minimal footprint in the overall design of a building. This discreteness makes the impact of Typoe’s installation even greater as all the color, texture, and spirit of the piece is truly contained in contrast to site-specific works that have all the room in the world in which to stretch themselves out, like the piece hanging in the atrium by Manuel Ameztoy.

For Typoe the elevator reflects the mix of people at the opening party: all mixed up and playful. One of the defining features of this work is its invitation to touch, which is reinforced by the immersiveness of the experience and the bright colors popping forth from the black background. Indeed, the contained nature of ELEVATE feels like a gilded and jolly coffin. The artist notes how many guests will happily travel endlessly through the hotel’s five floors in order to play with the magnets, thus placing themselves in a voluntary limbo and delaying the realities of time.

The ELEVATE series is the type of project that both sparks and feeds off energy. The kind of intimate, yet collaborative participation elicited by in the work has a way of establishing place. The elevator at Casa Claridge’s is a creative way to hint at the type of ground the Faena Group will be breaking (literally and figuratively) in the not-too-distant future.

Casa Claridge is located at  3500 Collins Ave, Miami Beach. For more information, visit Facebook.
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