Galleries

Miami Beach’s Satellite Art Fair Draws the Interactive into Its Orbit

Miami Beach’s Satellite art fair is not a release from an inundation of art — but perhaps it’s a reminder of why you like it in the first place.

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Jesse Bandler Firestone wearing Mattia Casalegno’s mask, part of “The Open” with wallpaper by Cole Lu In, “Though each was partly in the right, (Subtitle looks like this)” (2016), HD video still 00:14/ 01:10, on loan from the Young At Art Museum, Davie, Florida (all images by the author for Hyperallergic unless otherwise noted)

MIAMI BEACH — This year at Miami Beach’s Satellite art fair, I viewed art the way I might’ve as a child: excitedly and experientially. The work is fresh and innovative and interactive and smart. Set within the Parisian Hotel on Collins Avenue, the artist-run fair also had the unique challenge of incorporating a toilet into its exhibition space.

The mini-fair, which is in its second year, is a breath of fresh air, though it wouldn’t make sense to say it’s an escape from Miami Art Week. No, it’s not a release from an inundation of art — but perhaps it’s a reminder of why you like it in the first place. Besides the traditional format of gallery booths (45 in total), there are also performances and interactive programming throughout the week, including Sean Fader’s performance featuring an a capella group and my favorite Miami drag queen, Queef Latina, singing a chorus of “YAS GAGA”s. The immersive nature of so many of the exhibitions, plus the general convivial vibe of the whole space, makes Satellite feel like a multifaceted group show. Below are a few highlights.

Rami Farook, presented by Satellite  

You’re greeted by a sublime image of a quietly smiling man gently clutching a pineapple. It’s a sticker that Rami Farook will later distribute to you, a small work entitled “An Arab Man Smiling With A Pineapple.”

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Rami Farook, “An Arab Man Smiling With A Pineapple” (image courtesy the artist)

The Dubai-based artist — who, in addition to his visual practice, has worked as a curator, filmmaker, and furniture designer — frames his work on view here as a “self- and social portrait,” containing drawings and mixed media works spanning the length of his life. The works are funny and, in both content and presentation, confessional, with a “fuckboy guide” available in one piece, and a note reading, “Could I be in love with her? The happiness makes him anxious. I was confused,” in another. Whether he’s speaking about himself or imagining something else entirely, there’s a consistent theme of laughing at and reflecting on the self.

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Raina Belleau and Caleb Churchill, “The Red Ghost” and “Cacti of Arizona, Variable Skull”

Raina Belleau and Caleb Churchill at GRIN

In recalling a piece of weird American history, Raina Belleau and Caleb Churchill have created an immersive environment titled “Fantasia Colorado” examining the nature of memory and myth, fact and fiction. Shortly before the Civil War, Belleau explained to me, Jefferson Davis imported camels from places like Malta, Turkey, and Greece to develop the Camel Corp — there were no trains, and mules were inefficient travelers. During the war, Confederate soldiers released the camels into the desert, one with a corpse on its back; it traveled freely until it was killed. One can imagine the fables and stories that followed after people spotted a mystery animal carrying a dead man.

Belleau and Churchill reimagine the slain camel, its desert landscape, and, in a movement mirroring the famed Unicorn Tapestry, pay it homage with a wool carpet made by using punch needles, a style favored in Civil War-era US. The resulting effect is such that you get to enter the story yourself.

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Whit Forrester, installation view with “From East to West”

Whit Forrester at C.C. McKee

“Plants take the literal substance of God, which is light, and turn it into form,” Chicago artist Whit Forrester told me. His display at C.C. McKee, “Domesticating the Numinous,” reveres the houseplant, with photographs of friends’ plants — they look like intimate portraits, as if the plants were people, with golden halos — and actual plants on crates throughout, the room oxygenated with their chlorophyll and lit with a dim glow. Houseplants, Whit explains, are a product of colonization — a partial result of Europeans importing and then housing botanical specimens — and though the plants stay healthy, they’re never quite where they ought to be. Caught between a space between living freely and supporting the humans that care for them, Forrester’s plants are both ethereal connections to nature and grounded reminders to remember we’re all part of the same ecosystem.

Anita Glesta at ArtW.

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Anita Glesta, “Heart” video

I was mesmerized by Anita Glesta’s immersive installation. Constructed with dreamy projections and moving images, REVERIE is dedicated to the nature of the heart, intimacy, the clandestine, and the quiet things that happen in a hotel room. Couples intertwined and reaching for each other are projected onto the floor, where the bed would be; small videos built into pizza boxes are stored in a refrigerator; body parts, like feet and small hearts,come in the form of resin objects, drawings, or spinning images in a video projected on the wall. Glesta has included a sonogram of her own heartbeat, and the sound is comparable to entering a womb. Mirrors everywhere mean the images and sounds move around you, as if you were in a heart itself. I felt, momentarily, very sad, as if I, too, was longing for a beating heart with whom to share a pizza.

The Soothing Center, curated by Jesse Bandler Firestone

There are a few spaces at Satellite designed for holistic healing and decompression, like the Soothing Center, curated by Jesse Bandler Firestone. Some of the highlights include Mattia Casalegno’s “The Open,” a mask lined with the volatiles released by plants after they’ve been cut (the signal they send to other plants as a warning). The mask delays your breathing just slightly enough to enable you to hear your breath, inducing a subtle trance. Keren Moscovitch’s “The Space Between,” originally a durational performance, enables two people to enter a small chamber and place wooden cylinders between their bodies, holding them while gazing at each other until the pieces fall away — a lesson in stillness and support. The Institute for New Feeling’s “Air Freshener” releases Oxytocin into a bathroom, rendering the most mundane of places a therapeutic space.

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Sophia Park, “Put a Ring on It” (2015), bronze, cubic zirconia, acrylic, 4 x 5 x 7 inches; Sophia Park, “Soft” (2015), bronze, copper, silver chain, acrylic, 4 x 5 x 7 inches; Sophia Park, “Demure and Dignified” (2016), copper, cubic zirconia, acrylic, 6 x 6 x 10 inches; Ga Hee Park, “Studio Visit,” oil on board, 85 x 65 inches

Strange Genitals at Art F. City

Vaginas growing with flora, bubble-blowing breasts, toothed and monolithic beasts: the body parts here are sensuous and ridiculous. Art F. City’s exhibition is dedicated to the sometimes-awkward, sometimes contentious, and sometimes powerful nature of our private and not-so-private parts. Sophia Park’s bronze and copper “cock cages,” studded with jewels, are veritably beautiful, and lined along the bottom of a mirror for prime selfies. Jared Buckheister’s stoneware urinals, whose figures ask you to urinate in their mouths, look as if they were unearthed from an archeological dig. Phaan Howng’s phallic plaster beast is genuinely scary. I also liked Ga Hee Park’s oil painting, “Studio Visit,” in which a woman, surrounded by penises, seems to drool. Or cry.

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Bibiana, “Make America Great Again”; Jason Derek North, “Lace”; and Dangerous Rose, “Bed” (image courtesy Bibiana and Le Provocateur)

Les Provocateurs

New Orleans’s Les Provocateurs is a self-described “afro-futuristic erotica DIY queer cabaret.” For Satellite, they invited queer artist and ballet dancer Dangerous Rose (born Diem Massad Al-Jouni) to help turn the space, which also functioned as a gallery, into a makeshift strip club. I came for Rose’s strip tease and stayed for it, too, because it was beautiful. Seeing the body’s strength and capabilities, so empowered and vulnerable, can make a viewer feel empowered, too — if they’re willing to find power in their own body, shouldn’t we all? It was hard not to look at the work Rose danced around, as well, in all its striking contrast. Bibiana’s installation, “Make America Great Again,” was also strong: a set of archival photographs from the Library of Congress, including Japanese internment camps, Klu Klax Klan marches, and a sign offering to pay top dollar for slaves, all juxtaposed with Bibiana’s own, blood-red stenciled “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” graffiti. It says plenty without having to say much at all.

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Dangerous Rose

Satellite Art Show continues at the Parisian Hotel (1510 Collins Avenue,
Miami Beach) through Sunday, December 4. 

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