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art fair death match

Post #639 • October 5, 2005, 11:29 AM • 56 Comments

Via Artsjournal, Battle of the art fairs by Colin Gleadell for the Telegraph. It's an interesting glimpse into the full-contact world of arts marketing, with a disconcerting snippet about how FAIC reinvented itself when faced with new competition from Frieze:

[Newly-appointed artistic director Jennifer Flay's] solution was to reduce the number of French galleries at FIAC, open new sections for younger galleries, provide space for large-scale installations and film programmes, and devise a special series of events for VIP visitors.

I don't envy these people as they negotiate market realities, turning their fairs into carnivals of novelty for the well-to-do; the only healthy-sounding thing about the above is the inclusion of younger galleries. Too, the article makes me wonder how many art fairs the market will support. AB/MB has already had an adverse effect on all the Chicago fairs and even the Armory; it seems that people will only fly to so many of them.

Fairs seem to multiply like bunnies. At last count, the December lineup in Miami includes AB/MB, NADA, Scope, Aqua, and Pulse. (Credit.) This increasingly obliges the local art scene to save up for a once-a-year blowout. But I also see a possiblity that once the fairs reach a certain number, what's going on in the rest of the city won't matter. Are you going to hit all five fairs with ancillary screenings and soirees, and on top of it, Wynwood, the Design District, MAM, MoCA, the Bass, and MAC? I got tired just typing that. Locals have lauded the fairs for bringing in activity, but are they now competing with them?




October 5, 2005, 12:44 PM

Add to the list the new DESIGN.05 fair



October 5, 2005, 12:46 PM

The first couple of years Basel was here, I was foolish enough to try and get to everything going on during the ABMB circus week. I really knocked myself out, and the end result was mostly frustration and, ultimately, disgust. Last year, I severely curtailed my Basel week schedule, and I was very glad I did. It wasn't just the time and energy saved, but rather the sense that I was no longer being suckered into frantic, compulsive attendance fueled by seriously inflated and veryy unrealistic expectations.



October 5, 2005, 1:14 PM

That's right, Jack. During the AB-MB first year, I also attended everything and spent more time driving and looking for parking. I learned my lesson and now I attend only a few exhibitions. This year though, I am looking forward to visit Design.05 just to see and possibly sit on that $200,000 chair by Brazilian designer Tenreiro



October 5, 2005, 2:18 PM

Of course it's impossible to see all the fairs plus MAM plus Bass plus Wynwood etc etc in one week, and some people will fly in just for the fairs. But many more will fly in for two weeks or three, and will spend some time going to the beach, shopping, and yes, checking out local art (and I think collectors are more likely to seek out galleries then spend an afternoon at MAM).

Plus the fact of the fairs increasing Miami's arts profile year-round. While this has a huge way to go (Artforum, which you hate but the collectors love, has lots of national/international exhibition writeups, and Miami VERY seldome makes it into those pages (i believe the MoCA's Cut/Film was the last time)), the fairs will increase the buzz every december (maybe exponentially).

I heard all the arguments against them last year, and i'm convinced that in no way are this anything but a good thing for Miami in general and Miami artists in particular.



October 5, 2005, 2:40 PM

Alesh, I think a lot of the argument last year, from my point of view, anyway, was not that the art fairs are bad for Miami - they are certianly not - nor for Miami artists, although that might be argued, but that it did little or nothing to make art produced and shown here any better or any more serious, and, furthermore, that although Miami is a certainly a great town for an art fair in December this does not make Miami an "art center" in any other way but that.



October 5, 2005, 3:06 PM

in no way are this anything but a good thing for Miami in general and Miami artists in particular.

You might be able to make the case for that. Really my point is that the landscape is changing, and I want to keep my eye on those changes.



October 5, 2005, 3:32 PM

well then so i agree. except to say that i don't think it should be the role of art fairs to make the art made in miami better... that job belongs to the actual artists... they (we) are responsible for making better art.

i'm not sure that actively ignoring or criticising bad art is a part of the solution, either (although that doesn't hurt). The solution is for our artists to get it together and make better art (self editing?), attracting good artists from outside the area, and taking a look at our university art programs, which are much much better at teaching old media then old (and then you wonder why there's lots of crappy new media; new media is HARD, and the disregard paid to it by local university art programs (correct me if there's something i'm unaware of) is unacceptable).


Trista Dix, curator at large

October 5, 2005, 5:34 PM

As a comment to Alesh's idea that better artists begin showing here, I would like to point out a show , MANIFESTO(one), that I am curating this month at Ambrosino Gallery featuring some names new to this coast..Please come and check it out. The opening is sunday Oct 9th 11am to 3 pm.
Manifesto (one) is the first in a series of coast to coast exhibitions illuminating a web of connections between contemporary artists. Working with fragmented narratives these artists interrogate underlying themes of existence, issues of identity interpersonal relationships, and the human conditions present on this bizarre and strange planet.

Manifesto (one) identifies this particular moment in history where we find pathos without embarrassing sentimentality, sincerity without naiveté or postmodern pastiche. "Content" in the mainstream of visual art can be hard to spot. Motivated by contemporary issues and conceptual strategies, MANIFESTO (one) artists make it central to their work. Yet, a central characteristic among the artists is an old-world commitment to craft and attention to formalist concerns. Well made and well thought-out, the work resists current trends and fashions in favor of updating the anachronisms of painting/drawing and sculpture; Effective methods for better apprehending the world.

Los Angeles based Joseph Biel employs a sense of wonder in his large scale drawings that joins fascination and the grotesque without social judgments. He, like the other artists, subverts contemporary characters with metafictional tales of the banal and bizarre, blurring distinctions between the observed and the imagined. These "every-man"(or woman) characters find themselves in highly charged situations and relationships which forcibly confront unlikely pairings like humor and sadness, stoicism and vulnerability, trust and deceit.

Seattle's Dan Webb aims to examine and critique the activities and effects of self invention. He acutely observes that our culture demands self invention like no other. Webb sees bodily decorations like costumes, body building, plastic surgery, tattooing and piercing, clothes, make-up and dieting as sculptural; Exterior solutions to interior dilemmas representing the contradictions that exist in people. His works are anonymous portraits; Character studies of the contemporary psyche. To him, portraiture is a very baroque theater that tells a kind of truth much more succinctly than trying to pry through the muck below. His work isn't so much an illustration of this curious phenomenon, but a virtual re-enactment of it.

Originally from Oberammergau, Germany, A.A. Rucci also concerns his work with the complexities and idiosyncrasies of identity. The headless characters in Rucci's works beg an attention from the viewer's fantasy by inviting us to take part in still-unfolding storylines as co-authors to complete the script. Rucci points an accusatory finger at his audience's fears and desires, and makes the viewer accomplice to the central dramas in these staged realities: That people long for meaningful connections with one another, and that they will go to desperate extremes for a chance at going through the motions of love, lust, betrayal, revenge.

Miami based Raul J Mendez creates a world in which appropriated and invented images are juxtaposed and synthesized. Our world is made stranger that fiction via a melding of strategies that reference Borgesian distortions of logic and time. Space is often used symbolically, alternately illusionistic or flatly patterned. Tragedy and mirth intermingle. His works are uncomfortable parables of human behavior: Metaphors of absurdity and displacement. The viewer becomes voyeur, privy to the occasional moments of terror that the characters in his narratives are made to endure.

See you there.....

Trista Dix



October 5, 2005, 5:53 PM

Alesh, you write ",,,our university art programs, which are much much better at teaching old media then old (and then you wonder why there's lots of crappy new media; new media is HARD, and the disregard paid to it by local university art programs (correct me if there's something i'm unaware of) is unacceptable).

(I assume you did not meant repeat "old" in the first line.)

What is this "new media"that is so hard and so negelected, Alesh. Computers?



October 5, 2005, 5:58 PM

Trista, what in the world are you talking about?

What the hell. I am sadist enough to give it to my writing class and get them to translate it.


Trsita Dix

October 5, 2005, 6:01 PM

I am talking about the show. A contemporary update to narrative picture and object making ...

read slowly, my's all in the text....

See you there..

Trista Dix



October 5, 2005, 6:08 PM

Trista Dix, although I take exception to many of the phrases in your description of Manifesto (one) and the efforts of its contributors, I will ask for only two clarifications: please explain what "the anachronisms of painting/drawing and sculpture" are, and how one might "update" them.


Trista Dix

October 5, 2005, 6:13 PM

The anachronisms of narrative painting and sculpture are made up-to-date via their content (relevancy to our times) , and method of execution (lightness in form, not in content) ...

Guess you'll have to read the Manifesto itsef, and see the work...

See you there.

Trista Dix


Trista Dix

October 5, 2005, 6:13 PM

The anachronisms of narrative painting and sculpture are made up-to-date via their content (relevancy to our times) , and method of execution (lightness in form, not in content) ...

Guess you'll have to read the Manifesto itsef, and see the work...

See you there.

Trista Dix



October 5, 2005, 6:17 PM

Ooh. Something resembling an ad, and a double post... Somebody's about to get spanked.



October 5, 2005, 6:22 PM

Franklin, don't spank her for the ad, spank her for

"Our world is made stranger that fiction via a melding of strategies that reference Borgesian distortions of logic and time"

and the rest of that incomprehensible artspeak jargon BS.

Geez, lady, go write for Artforum or something.


Rene Barge

October 5, 2005, 6:37 PM

What in world is going on here? I take off for a little while, come back, and somebody going by "Incubator at Large" is selling shirts by Mephisto for the art fairs.



October 5, 2005, 6:40 PM

I can't decide whether to respond to #8 or delete it.



October 5, 2005, 6:42 PM

Go easy just yet, Franklin. The advertiser has at least responded.

Trista, the clarification that was offered was inadequate. I really would like to know more about this presumption: how it is that "relevancy to our times" and "lightness in form" necessarily update presumably outdated painting and sculpture. I myself presume that I am presumed to know these things, common knowledge-wise.

I cannot see the work, although I expect I can probably imagine much of it. Where might I read the Manifesto, not that I'm particularly fond of such?

Thank you in advance for your kind condescension to engage in discussion on this point.



October 5, 2005, 6:46 PM

oldpro, I had even looked Borges up on Wikipedia to try to grasp what was meant by "Borgesian distortions of logic and time". Alas, no avail.



October 5, 2005, 6:48 PM

I think it is OK Franklin. It's not that much different from someone just recommending a show, though more self-serving in this case, and it conforms to what we discuss here and may be something that our readers might want to see, though for the life of me, with such a description, I would rather go to a Chucky movie.

At least wait until I download it for my writing class.


Trista Dix, (incubator??)

October 5, 2005, 6:58 PM

Franklin : Sorry to make it an ad, it just seemed relevant
.As per the double post, my apologies: I have been smoking Gauloises all afternoon in preparation for my cross atlantic flight soon ( i am in Berlin) as i am trying to be there for the opening, but need to stop in Jersey for a coule days first to visit an old friend.

Ahab:No condescension was intended. Borgesian refers to J.L Borges, the Argentine writer..I figured you down in Miami would know him.Also, update does not necessarily mean out-of-date. Painting and sculpture are anachronisms due to the very nature of the meduims. ...In other words, old, historical, of times past....Predecessors for the works inthis show include Bruegel and Bosch....Other artists you may know whom are doing similar things are Neo Raush and Micheal Borremans (german and belgian, repsectively)

I must run now. My flight departs in a few hours and i have much to do. I hope to be able to make it to the opening.
Again, sorry to breach the "no ad" rule...

Auf Bewarlung,
Trista Dix



October 5, 2005, 7:04 PM

I don't think she knows what she is talking about any more than you do, Alesh.

None of the Borgheses or Borgheses I know about would fit in any way with "distortions of time and space" so she must be referring to Borges, because the term "Borgesian" is in literary usage, and Borges, fine writer that he was, would go on about time and space in a grandiose way sometimes.

However, I suspect in the context it is just thrown in for effect. Usually when you read this kind of hyperinflated gobbledegook the art is it "about", when you actually see it, is very insipid.



October 5, 2005, 7:08 PM

But Alesh, I can't talk you you any more. My flight is leaving and I have important things to do and important places to go...

Oaf Weirdorsane




October 5, 2005, 7:28 PM

Someone out there in reader-land help Trista Dix out and explain to me what it is about painting and sculpture that's so anachronistic. No need to explain Borges, or the rest of Trista's context, just why painting and sculpture must be updated.

Maybe Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate who "plans a radical unseating of painting and sculpture from their positions as the "king and queen" of art", would deign to comment (Charlotte Higgins quote from The Guardian).,11711,1567906,00.html



October 5, 2005, 7:49 PM

Maybe he is reacting to the floor full of fuschia (and other delov-el-ey colored) paintings covered in elephant dung by Chris Ofili, recently installed at the Tate.



October 5, 2005, 7:54 PM

Cant' help you, Ahab. I have read throught #8 and decided that she is describing the same artist four times.



October 5, 2005, 7:56 PM

Sex is an anachronism due to the very nature of the medium. In other words, old, historical, of times past. It is no longer required for reproduction, since we have artificial insemination, and commercial sex aids of all sorts are readily available, safe and convenient. Only Neanderthals out of step with progress would still bother with such crude methods of gratification as actual sexual encounters, tainted as they are by centuries of abusive practices and inequality. I mean, really, how much more derivative and unimaginative can one get? Hasn't this sex thing been done to death? Please, people, get a clue.



October 5, 2005, 8:12 PM

Trista Dix, Curator-at-large's Gauloises are pretty anachronistic. Perhaps the've been updated? To New Cancer-Free Gauloises!



October 5, 2005, 8:14 PM

Which have filters which prevent you from tasting anything



October 5, 2005, 8:15 PM

Damn, even Kathleen's jumping on her. Welcome aboard.



October 5, 2005, 8:18 PM

You're right, Franklin. This kind of bullshit is so generic You could pull any one of them out of a jar and stick on a wall lable and it would go anywhere.



October 5, 2005, 8:44 PM

Well, I'm really only jumping on the anachronistic Gauloiserie. And the "Curator-at-large" appelation.

I can't comment more specifically on comment number 8 because I didn't read past the phrase "I would like to point out a show (blahblah) that I am curating".

Homebody curators are anachronistic too, I suppose.



October 5, 2005, 8:50 PM

Globe-trotting, jet-setting, curator-at-large Trista has been plugging stuff at Ambrosino here on the blog since September, if I recall correctly. Nothing quite as fulsome as this, however


blah blah blah

October 5, 2005, 11:04 PM

why is everyone so bothered exactly? you dont like her comment(s), well , move all do it all the time... shes pluging shes being smug who gives a fuck, move on, you all are just trashing this person for shits and giggles, this makes you any better? yeah she sucks your great , whatever, if oldpro were curateing something he would be all over this bitch, and no one would say anything except, oh wow where when how who... geez



October 5, 2005, 11:44 PM

yes, i meant to say "which are much much better at teaching old media then new."

thanks, oldpro. i wouldn't have noticed my mistake if you hadn't pointed it out three times.


that guy

October 6, 2005, 12:23 AM

blah blah: you are foaming at the mouth a bit. Tell us what is so valuable in our young budding curatorial genius Trista Dix, and what is wrong with having some fun at the expense of such a slow moving target? The hungry lion always stalks the wounded antelope, and she is bleeding badly. We are doing her a favor trust me. Quick and painless little art flogging that will make her think hopefully, before she regurgitates another one of those essays. I'm still enjoying the sentence structure.



October 6, 2005, 8:25 AM

blahblah, I just did curate something, but I did not post a thousand word review of it on the blog. Furthermore, I have nothing against Trista, only what she wrote.

Alesh, I only pointed out the mistake to clarify what you wrote so I could ask you a question which so far has gone unanswered.



October 6, 2005, 10:26 AM

oldpro: if you mean this question . . .

What is this "new media"that is so hard and so negelected, Alesh. Computers?

then i had no idea you were being anything but facetious. You're unfamiliar with the term "new media"???



October 6, 2005, 10:40 AM

No, what ywould be the point of being facetious?

Of course I have heard the term. i hear it all the time. No one has ever explained to me what it means. I thought maybe you could.



October 6, 2005, 12:21 PM

uh... new media: video, interactive web projects, sound art? possibly more. i think.


Dr. Art

October 6, 2005, 12:40 PM

maybe this will help. or at least ad some fire to the pit.



October 6, 2005, 1:05 PM

just what we all needed, more bed art.



October 6, 2005, 1:11 PM

I just noticed that the opening of that show is from 11 AM to 3 PM on Sunday.



October 6, 2005, 1:21 PM

Franklin, I think it may be time now to turn off Trista, or Dr. Art. or whover is jamming artblog with that Ambrosino flak.

OK, Craig. No sarcastic little "uh...." needed.

Computers, sure, only this is just electronic image manipulationwhich has been going on for 40 years or so. I didn't know "sound art" was exactly much newer than that. Video has been going on that long also.

Whether or not these are "new media" what I wanted to know is what Alesh has to back up is claim, as I understand it, that these, or whatever "new" media might be, in his eyes, is so neglected in academia here in Miami. He may be right. I just wanted to know what is was he knew. I thought it was a straightforward question but I guess it wasn't.



October 6, 2005, 1:25 PM

Craig sounds genuinely unsure.

I'll go patch up that link up there. Dude, you know how to hyperlink; watch that long url...


that guy

October 6, 2005, 1:25 PM

I think what they mean by new media is that it has the farthest to go to become timeless.



October 6, 2005, 2:48 PM

I think it means media invented since the theremin.



October 6, 2005, 2:54 PM

these artists interrogate underlying themes of existence...

what the hell does this mean? Ambrosino should just tape this diatribe up on his wall and be done with it; i don't think the art can live up to such expectations.



October 6, 2005, 3:12 PM

You're right, Bob. it would go perfectly with the deeply profound art piece illustrated there: someone lying in bed with piles of books all over the place.

Serious stuff, indeed.



October 6, 2005, 3:30 PM

i AM unsure, and i make videos.



October 6, 2005, 4:11 PM

That makes sense, Craig.



October 6, 2005, 5:28 PM

The picture linked by #42 does look pretty bad, certainly unpromising, but in all fairness the live experience was more effective. However, at the time I saw it, I was ravenous for anything that was not same-old-same-old by the usual local suspects. Still, as I mentioned previously, I doubt this piece would hold up well after the initial encounter--it's a little too contrived.



October 7, 2005, 1:32 PM

Jack's post #28 hilariously burst Triste's bubble of a thought on anachronism.
Unfortunately, so many 'explorers' of 'new media' rely on the same fallacious assumption that Triste exhibits, and they simply, ignorantly move forward without examining that assumtion in a critical light, to see if it holds up under scrutiny.

That's where the artblog contributors come in, I guess.

It's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. So Triste, consider yourself enlightened.

(speaking of enlightening, alesh, note my use of the word "than" as distinct from "then"... just something I thought you might like to consider in the future.)



October 7, 2005, 1:33 PM

sorry for the bold franklin



October 7, 2005, 4:35 PM

Franklin menitoned the theramin, and that got me to wondering, why don't these far out types write music for exotic instruments.

I want to hear "octet for theramin, zither, ocarina, ukulele, washtub bass fiddle, saw, sitar, kazoo and castanets"

I know that's nine, but nobody knows nonets.

It's silly time.



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