#BlackLivesMatter vs #ArtBasel

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?

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