The Weirdest Pieces in Miami Art Week 2015

By definition, Miami Art Week is always strange. When patrons have to wander through thousands of pieces of art at dozens of fairs, shock-and-awe is an effective eye-catching strategy.

Still, 2015 has to go down as one of the weirdest editions of Art Basel ever, from the nonstop monsoons to the bloodshed. First, a 24-year-old New Yorker used an X-Acto knife to stab another patron in the middle of the Miami Beach Convention Center, later telling police, “I had to watch her bleed.” Then Miami Beach Police shot and killed a razor-blade-wielding bank robber in the middle of Alton Road as shocked tourists watched.

Given such real-life insanity as a backdrop, you’d think artists would have a hard time turning heads with their own brand of craziness. You’d be wrong.

Robert Indiana, who is best known for his works depicting the word “love” — the ones that have appeared everywhere from postage stamps to Christmas cards with the word in a square with a tilted “o” — made a scene at Art Basel Miami Beach.

His piece Rum Run, a towering ten-foot sculpture making its public debut at Zurich’s Galerie Gmurzynska booth, was a grisly assemblage featuring an oddly clad pirate skeleton propped inside a golden rowboat. It felt like apt commentary on the tsunami of booze floating across town and the swashbuckling collectors dropping millions.

Just outside of Red Dot Fair, which is nestled next to the old Miami City Cemetery, Miami-based tech company Vensure had the advertising display of the weekend. It featured a vintage pink Cadillac, a snazzy new red Ferrari, and a pair of reed-thin models posing in front of two soaring paintings of vaginas. 

Inside Red Dot, the sex-sells theme was further exploited by Austrian artist Christine Noelle’s Hungry for You, which depicted a nude, suntanned Barbie doll getting humped by a peeled banana.

That wasn’t Red Dot’s only WTF piece either. Foster Eastman’s statue depicted Chairman Mao standing in a pool of blood while trussed up in a tangle of plasma-filled IV lines.

Over at the Context Fair in midtown Miami, Blue & Joy, an Italian collective, peppered a booth’s walls with metal works that mimicked Post-It notes. They were covered with phrases that mocked art fair dealers’ sales pitches.

Meanwhile, next door at Art Miami, Enrique Gomez De Molina drew hordes of selfie takers with his iridescent sculpture of a walrus coated in metal-hued beetle skins and boasting porcupine quills as whiskers, on view at the booth of Bernice Steinbaum.

They probably didn’t know Molina’s backstory: The artist was sentenced to 20 months in federal prison in 2012 for smuggling exotic wildlife to make his art.
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Carlos Suarez De Jesus