Robot death matches, art made from bodily waste and stuffed toy animal pelts, an exhibit inspired by Bolivian flea markets, and another featuring the works of a bumper crop of homegrown talent are among the many compelling offerings vying for attention during this weekend's Second Saturday shindig.
The robot carnage gets underway at 7 p.m. (2201 NW Second Ave., Miami) when the Borscht Film Festival unleashes some mechanical mayhem to kick off the indie-flick fest's seventh edition. "Robot Thunderdome Arena" will pit remote-controlled armed and armored machines in elimination battles.
Don't expect your dad's Rock'em Sock'em robots, says Nick Ducassi, Borscht's minister of propaganda. "These are more like the BattleBots competitions. The robots are made of steel, aluminum, and titanium and range from three pounds, or the size of a Starbucks coffee cup, to 15 pounds, or the size of a loaf of bread," Ducassi explains. "They will be fighting behind a steel and Plexiglas cage" to keep spectators safe from flying robot guts. The thermoplastic and metal 15-by-15-foot arena was provided by StarBot.
Ducassi, who hopes a Brock Lesnar-class bot in the 120-pound range named Witch Doctor will make an appearance at Borsht's smackdown, says the scrapping combatants will later turn their fury on sundry appliances.
"During the event, the robots will also destroy old electronics and other outdated contraptions to create a big mess," he says. The event is part of a promotion for the opening of Bots High later at 10 p.m. at O Cinema (90 NW 29th St.), where the demolished carcasses of the night's robot combatants will be exhibited. Ducassi encourages the arts community to bring electronics and toys for the robots to destroy.
Directed by Joey Daoud, Bots High captures the travails of local high school robot geeks as they build and battle their mechanical contraptions on their way to a national robotics competition held in Miami.
The high school robotics teams competing in Borscht's mechanical slaughter will include Ransom Everglades, Carrollton, and Miami Lakes Educational Center. Ducassi says University of Miami students and local professional robot builders will provide other combatants.
As part of the evening's high jinx, "[email protected]" will display some amazing props from the film fest's movies. At the Dorsch Art Gallery (151 NW 24th St.), you can discover everything from a latex eel used in the short film Glitch — Borscht's collaboration with Waverly Films and sound artist Otto von Schirach — to installation boards from The Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke, a collaboration among Borscht, Rakontur, Jillian Mayer, and Luther Campbell.
Spinello Gallery (155 NE 38th St.) will celebrate its fifth anniversary with "Collectivism," a group show featuring the work of one artist, Agustina Woodgate.
"It's sort of Agustina's greatest hits," says Anthony Spinello, her Miami dealer. Woodgate was the first artist Spinello signed to his stable when he decided to open his own space half a decade ago.
"I was working at the Liquid Blue Gallery in Wynwood," Spinello recalls. "I had recently moved here from New York and wanted to hire new talent for Liquid Blue. I posted an ad on Craigslist, and Agustina, who had then relocated to Miami from Argentina, came in with these works created from her own bodily waste. When I showed them to Jeff Moore, the owner of the gallery, he thought I was crazy. 'How are you going to sell art made from hair?' he told me. That series became the first work I purchased for my own collection, and when I opened my own space a year later, I showed Agustina's work in my first show and have represented her ever since."
Woodgate's early pieces from the Change series are on view at Spinello's, where the monoprints show the artist's nude body dramatically altered from panel to panel. She used her own hair collected from her bathroom drain throughout 2004 to change her appearance, sewing hair onto her head, pudenda, armpits, and lips to draw attention to the ritual of cleansing.
Also on view is one of Woodgate's monumental pieces, which swallows an entire wall and measures a whopping 10 by 16 feet. For No Rain No Rainbows, the artist collected hundreds of stuffed animals, stripped them of their fur, and then used the multicolored pelts to fashion an eye-popping tapestry of abstract patterns and what appears to be a Buddhist mandala with a blue spider at its center.
Downwind at Dot Fiftyone Gallery (51 NW 36th St.), catch "Miamicito," an intriguing exhibit featuring a big-name contingent of Bolivia's contemporary artists. Organized in collaboration with Kiosko Galeria (Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia) and seamlessly curated by Raqhel Schwartz, the show boasts a stunning collection of paintings, videos, photography, and installations that offer a multisensory glimpse into the country's top-drawer talent.
Artists in the exhibit include Alejandra Alarcón, Oscar Barbery, Andres Bedoya, Alejandra Delgado, Claudia Joskowicz, Ramiro Garavito, Keiko González, Cecilia Lampo, Eduardo Ribera, Douglas Rodrigo Rada, Alfredo Román, Raquel Schwartz, Gastón Ugalde, Roberto Uterladstaetter, and Roberto Valcárcel.
The show's name isn't a stab at the Magic City, but rather "refers to the flea markets in Bolivia where people go shopping for a variety of items," Garavito says. "The merchandise is a comprehensive compiling of local articles of popular demand; however, you can find many imported items brought to the country overcoming regular customs in a very skillful manner. In this particular sense, the show 'Miamicito' presents the juxtaposition between the neighboring ancestral ways of life and global culture."
On display you'll find Barbery's c-print of coal miners posing in an underground cavern. You'll also discover Rada's expressionistic painting Cono Cock, which depicts a garishly hued rooster with its head stuffed into a steel funnel. Then there's Schwartz's arresting image of an entire room — walls, doors, furniture, and even a dinner service — covered in Pepto-Bismol-pink velvet.
It's no secret that since opening its doors in 1984, New World School of the Arts has produced Miami's finest talent, including graduates such as Bert Rodriguez, Hernan Bas, and Jen Stark. "Post..." showcases NWSA's class of 2011, which could produce the next batch of big names. They already generated plenty of buzz at last year's Art Basel.
See their brand-spanking-new arsenal of work — which ranges from sculpture, photography, painting, and interactive installation to graphic design and video — at Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (1018 N. Miami Ave.) so you can say you knew them, and maybe could even afford their work, before their careers skyrocketed.