Spend enough time at your local dive, and just about anything can seem like art. A mound of butts in an ashtray becomes worthy of the title installation. The bartenders, bouncers and drunks are performance artists, appropriating the machinations of a shithole filled with weirdos.
Art Basel mania would seemingly prove that Miami loves art. At the very least, it loves the art of partying. Visual artists and bartenders, Autumn Casey and Laura Duran, detected some resonance between the closely aligned worlds of aesthetics and booze and created tomorrow's one-night-only installation Whistle While You Work.
The show is the third in a series of wholly immersive, location-based
installations Duran and Casey have orchestrated. In December 2009,
they rented out four rooms at the Shalimar Inn, a seedy Biscayne
Boulevard motel with a dingy Art Deco facade, and filled them with site
specific sculptures that constructed grimy visual narratives inspired by
Duran coyly describes the show as a "one-night stand," a
pun on the 24 hour period in which the material was arranged, exhibited
and taken down.
According to Duran, Whistle While You Work "is meant to be an
experience of the work. These projects are meant to be exercises of our
practice" -- shilling hooch, presumably -- "They are not panel style or a forum. This one in particular is a
In keeping with the party motif, and the pair's desire to use spaces
outside of the gallery/warehouse circuit, the show will be hosted at Bachata
dancehall, Club Tipico Dominicano. Though the curators have been
tightlipped about the work, the event's parameters required participating artists to also be bartenders.
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many times you'll get the question, 'So what else do you to besides
bartend,' Casey laments, "and I always have to take an existential pause
on how to answer that." She continues, "Not that this show will answer
that question either," but the pair do hope to set the psyche of the
bartender on display.
Sometimes that psyche is fraught with insecurity and self-doubt.
"The subject of finding a 'real' job always comes up," Casey explains.
"As if we are just in a bartending limbo that doesn't really have an end
Duran confirms this anxiety, and cites external sources as
extra contributors: "At the first bar that I worked at, my asshole boss
would always ask me why I kept going to art school if I would end up
being a bartender."
As Casey reveals, the respective trades can
be quite harmonious. "Bartending offers enough freedom and quick cash
that making art usually calls for." In that sense, Whistle While You Work
ultimately locates itself in the eternal self-reflection and
self-distinction of the artist identity by the eternally
self-reflecting, self-distinguishing artist.
Most tellingly, Duran adds
that the greatest overlap between making work and bartending is "the
arbitrary assignment of value - in both the art market and the club."
by Autumn Casey and Laura Duran, featuring work by seven bartenders that
are also artists: Nicholas Arehart, Autumn Casey, Cynthia Cruz, Cat
Dove, Laura Duran, Jesse Laino, and Sleeper. Visit the event's Facebook page.