Art Basel Miami Beach 2014 (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

Art Basel Miami Beach 2014 (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

MIAMI BEACH — I spent hours today inside the Miami Beach Convention Center, taking in the thousands of artworks at this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach fair and gawking at the colorfully dressed collectors as they casually committed to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. Cell phone service was spotty at best, but when I emerged in the late afternoon, I opened Twitter to discover that, only a week after the grand jury in St. Louis failed to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Mike Brown, the grand jury in Staten Island has failed to indict police officer Daniel Pantaleo for the killing of Eric Garner.

Protests have now erupted in New York City and throughout the country in response to the decision. And, unsurprisingly, the best expression of the cognitive dissonance I’m once again feeling — living simultaneously in the real world and the art world, which feel so frustratingly far apart — comes in the form of a tweet from artist Beth Whitney:

To put those images directly back to back, that’s protesters staging a lie-in at American University in Washington, DC:


And Marina Abramović’s booth at Art Basel Miami Beach, where she is tucking visitors into beds when they’re hit by fairtigue:


What more is there to say?

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art...

14 replies on “#BlackLivesMatter vs #ArtBasel”

      1. The way the images are framed as “opposites” is not relevant and makes so many inane implications. So people at Art Basel Miami Beach — hardly a perfect platform, I know — are invited to rest a bit after supporting contemporary art and artists from all over the world. Big deal. And using an image from Abramovic, whom I all I can gather is a very spiritually minded performance artist, nearly makes her work itself seem racist. It’s stretching it, but the whole thing is full of presumption. Point your fingers toward the justice system, and have a bit of empathy for those that collect, promote, make or promote contemporary art doggedly. This “juxtaposition” makes artists seem a bit ditzy. A stereotype I abhor. Artists have the responsibility to think and write deeply.

        1. So how is this installation representative of Abramovic thinking and writing deeply? I think it’s the superficiality of the gesture that the writer is calling to task.

  1. Very true and authentic are such juxtapositions. You can recall, last year in Turkey violent police with truncheons, pepper spray and guns took over Gezi demonstrants, and one German pianist traveled to Gezi with his Grand Piano, in order to mediate the “Western values about democracy”, as he said in an interview.

    And meanwhile in the democratic Western, at ArtBasel violent police with truncheons, pepper spray and guns took over demonstrants against Favela luxus cafeteria. (

    Our world is full of hypocrisy, and in art world it’s perfectly visualizable.

  2. I want to comment but I’m not sure as where to start. I understand your point in feeling as if you live in two worlds. Welcome to the mindset of every person of color in America. We all live in two different worlds. In one world, there’s the idea (the concept) of America and the other world is just plain old reality. Idea of America is wonderful because it’s the land of the free. Art Basel as an experience falls into that category in terms of artistry and expression. However, reality has illustrated numerous times over that even I do not belong there. I’m frequently located on the outside looking in but not the fringes because in America, even the fringe is more accepted than the color of my skin, my ideals and my language. No matter how many times it has been appropriated, celebrated and torn down by the media.

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