"I think that street art is the most immediate and effective medium to express one's point of view," says spinmeister DJ CNTRL, who has hatched a show called "Art Bastard" as a spoof on the commercial nature of the fair.
Some of the graffiti artists he is working with have taken DJ CNTRL's retooled Art Basel logo, touting "Art Bastard," and hijacked the fair's colors and design, bombing city streets with stenciled tags to promote their one-night gig.
The culture jammer organized the event to showcase Miami artists he claims remain outsiders during the city's week-long Basel binge.
During his December 9 "Art Bastard" blowout, on the outdoor patio of PS 14 in downtown Miami, DJ CNTRL will be exhibiting the work of graffiti artists and collaborating with them in an interactive performance combining music and live painting. Seventies glam rockers the New York Dolls will take the stage inside the space, spinning records through the wee hours to cap the bash.
"Street art's clarity is precise and to the point and a form of expression available for all to enjoy beyond what appeals to educated highbrow art aficionados," the provocateur argues. "These artists are the bastards of Basel, and this is one of their few public forums during a time when their work would ironically go largely ignored." He echoes the frustration of other homegrown talent banking on their street cred in hopes of registering on the culture radar during the fair.
"This is a way for me to make a statement and put my message right in your face," says Typoe, a 23-year-old graffiti rat who has launched the Vote Project with his partner Murdr to coincide with Basel.
The two are waging a guerrilla political campaign against each other to jettison "the imbecile" from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. "The president is an embarrassment and has screwed up the United States," Typoe fumes. "You could take anyone off the street and put them in the White House and they would be more effective; it might as well be one of us."
Typoe, who has been plastering campaign posters throughout Wynwood, the Design District, and South Beach as his Art Basel opus, asserts that his first order of business as prez would be to take a broom to domestic policy. "How can America worry about cleaning other people's house when our own room is dirty? A lot of snooty art people may look down on what I do, but hopefully they will get it." The chucklehead overlooked the need to create an actual voting process but says he's creating a Website to iron out election kinks.
Another local graffiti artist delivering a socially conscious message is AholSniffsGlue, who has joined forces with pals Junk, Andrew the Sociopath, and Rekal as the FourPack crew to create Jingle Jangle for the Poor. Their collaboration is part of Faktura Gallery's "Pimp My Kart" project, featuring the work of 30 artists who have retrofitted shopping carts into installations on wheels.
"We have converted our cart into Santa's sleigh," Ahol explains. "It has red velvet seats, a chrome reindeer hood ornament, headlights, and a mad hooptie vibe."
Ahol's crew has been collecting trashed electrical appliances and spray-painting them in gift wrap patterns to leave as "art presents" on street corners during the fair. As part of their performances, they will don red hoodies and white beards to spread cheer during the holiday season. They plan to wheel the sleigh from Fort Lauderdale to Cutler Bay, leaving brightly ornamented toasters, blenders, and microwaves in blighted urban areas during their trek. They will also be dishing out hundreds of sandwiches to the homeless in downtown Miami, and documenting their merry mayhem for a later exhibit.
"Some Basel highbrows may see graffiti or street art as a nuisance or never experience the crazy amount of homeless people living on the streets near the American Airlines Arena," Ahol laments. "This is a way for us to give back to the poor and keep things on the grimy guerrilla tip."
Faktura's Jacquelyn Johnston, organizer of "Pimp My Kart," now in its second incarnation, hopes to make a splash by attaching a shopping-cart basket to an adult tricycle and tricking out the contraption with spinning chrome rims. Her alter ego, Jacqi Brown, will pilot the wheels outside the Miami Beach Convention Center during the fair and peddle nickel bags of art, such as postage-stamp-size snippets of cut-up paintings packaged in plastic baggies, to the highfalutin crowd.
"Jacqi is the dope art dealer who will attempt to entice people who are in full Basel mode," Johnston laughs. "For me it's more about taking it to the streets and interacting with others on a personal level. It makes a bigger impact than trying to compete with the insanity inside the fair."
"Pimp My Kart" artists will be exhibiting their wares alfresco on South Beach streets December 8 and throughout the Design District December 9.