As the collective fog of air horns, strobe lights, and hazy tourists made the trek out of the Magic City after Winter Music Conference and Ultra, locals were left to clean up the mess and reflect on the week’s events. Out of the dozens of concerts, parties, and after-parties, one of the most unconventional and creative took place at the Faena Forum. The curators at Faena Art wanted to give both locals and tourists an anti-concert, and they succeeded with Noche de Brujas. Equal parts performance art, indie concert, and modern-day pagan ritual, the event brought together a smattering of witchy local and international female artists for a show that transformed their forum into a temple of art and music.
“We want to add to the people, to the community, and to the city of [Miami Beach], as well as to the people from all over the world that come here,” says the Faena District’s eponymous proprietor Alan Faena.
Unlike the exclusive Faena Hotel, which stands just across the street and was recently named the top hotel in the world by Condé Nast Traveler, the Faena District and its Forum are much more democratic. Inaugurated for Art Basel 2016, the district’s programming includes events that are free and open to the public, giving locals a taste of the artistic flair synonymous with Faena.
For Noche de Brujas, curator Zoe Lukov was inspired by the feminist ideals of the divine feminine imbued within multicultural strains of witchcraft. The night’s performances were peppered with references to Oshun, an orisha of the Afro-Caribbean Yoruba tradition. But besides the literal references, Noche de Brujas was full of subtle nods to toppling the patriarchy.
“I wanted to bring together all these amazing, witchy, creative women that I love and always wanted to work with,” Lukov says. “Witchcraft is really about a celebration of women and a type of femininity that has always been threatening to men.”
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Until now, that is. With recent upheavals in the entertainment and media industries, a celebration of the divine feminine couldn’t have been a more apt source of inspiration for the evening’s performances. The ritual started with a procession along Collins Avenue, led by Ife-Ile Afro-Cuban dance company, to the Forum for an evening of live performances from local superstars like Virgo, Tara Long (AKA Poorgrrrl), and the TM Sisters, along with artists from farther afield like Georgia Wall, Juliana Huxtable, and Sandflower, among others. The Forum’s dome was also festooned with an installation by local artist Carlos Betancourt, using local palm fronds and glittering red shapes.
Despite the supernatural influence, the night’s events had a decidedly relaxed feel, with onlookers sipping cocktails and mingling about the performance in the round. It’s that sense of openness the forum was always meant to elicit.
"Faena is not just about luxury,” Faena explains. “Faena is a collective of ideas and artists that work together in a new way.”
In the midst of this year’s gambit of Miami Music Week parties, that new perspective was not just refreshing but deeply needed.