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Celso would neither confirm nor deny that this is the official JPG of Art Burn 2009

While the players in the global art market descend on Miami to scoop up artistic baubles and all the prestige associated with it, some people have arrived at this international art orgy for less consumer driven motives. Enter Celso and his ART BURN event, which he has dubbed “the most combustible art show in the world.”

Today at 1 pm the New York-based Celso will mount a small exhibition in the shadow of some of Miami’s smaller contemporary art fairs, which will include work by dozens of (mostly street) artists. Come sunset he will set the show aflame — he’s guessing the match will be struck at 5:30 pm.

The press release makes it clear that: “After the brief exhibition, all of these original works will be burned for the public’s viewing pleasure. Nothing is for sale.”

Participating artists are (listed in the same order as the press release): Stikman, El Celso, Aurora Robson, Infinity, Nick Fortunato, Skewville, Jayne Surrena, Darkcloud, Fabian Pena, Elbow-Toe, Rex Dingler, LA II, Royce Bannon, Leonardo Furtado (Brazil), Rednose, Gore-B, Buildmore, Abe Lincoln Jr., Cake, Paul Kostabi, Ellis-G, Jeannete Vidalia, 2esae, Avoid Pi, Stefano Pasquini (Italy), Keely, Destroy & Rebuild, Veng, F. Trainer, Ski, Joanne Mattera, Deeker, Sam Horine, Avone, Die Dose (Germany), Billi Kid, Evelyn Metzger, Robots Will Kill, Adam Vincentz, Garrison Buxton (Peripheral Media Projects), Michael DeFeo, James A. Willis, Dalva, Kristina Maria Lopez, Hargo, Ray Bradbury & very special guests TBA

Hyperallergic is a proud sponsor of Art Burn 2009 and I spoke to Celso to find out his motives for the flammable affair or if he just likes to play with fire.

Celso partaking in the free champagne at Art Basel Miami’s press preview

Hrag: Why are you burning art?

Celso: Why not? Burning art in itself is an art for one thing.

Most people would consider it a form of destruction…you don’t?

Yes and no. As an artist who works on and off the street, there is a certain kind of beauty in the decay and/or destruction of a work of art. It usually takes months or years of weathering the elements to achieve the right look but fire really accelerates the process.

Is this something you normally do with your work or is this the first time you’ve burned art?

I usually shred works at home and dream of having my own fireplace in which to burn some of them, but this show is about burning the best works of art as opposed to cast offs around the studio.(I also had to limit the number of submissions from some of the participating artists too) But I’ve burned works in the past in a bonfire with friends at a spot in Williamsburg before it became a monstrous condo site a few years back …

It all sounds very Mad Max. Is Art Burn about the end of something or the beginning? And of what?

Fun flick, probably the last good Mel Gibson pix too … Art Burn is both, really. An end and a beginning. Nothing lasts forever, why should a work of art be any different? Fire destroys but also gives life, like the dormant seeds in a forest during a controlled burn, without the fire the seed would never grow. Plus, I just thought it would be fun.

*   *   *

ART BURN: The Most Combustible Art Show in the World
International Contemporary Art Expo & Immolation

Date: Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
Location: LAS TIAS, 2834 N. Miami Ave., in Miami’s Wynwood District
Time: One day only from 1pm to sunset.
Media Reception: Thursday, December 3, 2009, 5pm to sunset

Event Sponsors
Las Tias, the best upscale resale gallery in Miami and official exhibition sponsor of ART BURN, the official media sponsor of the ART BURN VIP Lounge
Hyperallergic, the official blogazine, critic and beer sponsor of ART BURN
Brooklyn Street Art, the official street art and corporate snack sponsor of ART BURN
Rosa Lowinger & Assoc. Art Conservation, the official red carpet sponsor of ART BURN
Two Coats of Paint, the official marshmallow sponsor of ART BURN
Kingsford Charcoal, the unofficial grilling partner of ART BURN

For all press inquires, please contact El Celso at or at 212-532-5980.

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

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