MIAMI BEACH — Sometimes at a fair all the art blends together and it’s hard to know what to make of anything. Other times a motif emerges, and once you spot it, you wander the aisles and booths seeing it everywhere. This past weekend at Pulse Miami Beach — a particularly amiable fair — I discovered quite a number of artworks that had been pieced together from smaller parts, the artists puzzling, stitching, weaving, and compiling their ways to larger wholes.
The theme emerged almost immediately, with a wonderful artwork on view in the fair’s first booth: Andrea Canepa‘s “Orange Piece(s),” brought by Rosa Santos gallery. Canepa has assembled orange pieces from six different landscape jigsaw puzzles, fitting them into a new puzzle whose picture is a bright, glitchy mash-up but whose exterior is a perfect rectangle.
Canepa’s process of pulling pieces from a broader pool and carefully orchestrating their new arrangement resonated with the work of Sabrina Gschwandtner, on view nearby at the booth of Shoshana Wayne Gallery. For “Hearts and Hands Brown and Blue” (2014), Gschwandtner made use of an archive of films about textile making that was deaccessioned by the Fashion Institute of Technology; she stitched together individual strips of 16mm film into a geometric, kaleidoscopic pattern that, when set against a light box, pulses with the promise of motion.
On the other side of the wall, tucked inside the Shoshana Wayne booth, was a piece called “Bouquet for Columbine” (2014) by Dinh Q. Le, a photograph cut up and woven back together, with the edges slightly burnt. To make works like this one, Le uses a basket-weaving technique that he learned from his aunt in Vietnam. The finished product feels like an optical illusion, both two- and three-dimensional at the same time. (Another, not quite as interesting piece by Le, “Colors” (2013), made with the same process, was on view at the booth of Elizabeth Leach Gallery.)
The installation by Ghost of a Dream, the duo of artists Lauren Was and Adam Eckstrom, on view at Davidson Contemporary’s booth was similarly eye popping, but resolutely three-dimensional. For “The Center of Convention” (2014), Was and Eckstrom gathered an array of discarded materials from previous art fairs — carpets, crate lids, pedestals, etc. — and turned them into an all-over installation of striped and chevron-patterned pieces. There was something distinctly ingenious about “The Center of Convention,” not just in its use of castoffs but in its creation and filling in of a complete puzzle without a preset guiding form.
Also working in three dimensions was Nathalie Miebach, whose sculptures at the booth of Miller Yezerski Gallery were some of the most impressive I saw at the fair. Miebach takes weather data from storms — information about the wind, temperature, sea and surf — and diagrams them using wood, rope, paper, and other materials. The works look like epically zany children’s toys, but are in fact physical, readable representations of natural events. (She turns the storm data into musical scores too, as shown here.)
Given that they’re made from masses of collected trash, Susie Ganch‘s sculptures might be seen as mapping our world as well, albeit something less natural and specific. Installed at Sienna Patti Contemporary’s booth, Ganch’s two sculptures, one on the floor and one wall-mounted, turn discarded plastic items into striking, whirling forms. It’s almost a little unsettling how easily Ganch washes humanity’s excesses in beauty.
Ganch’s palette was of a piece with Jessica Drenk‘s, whose work was on display nearby at the booth of Adah Rose Gallery. For “Wave,” Drenk carved and sanded down dozens of PVC pipes beyond recognition, making of them a stunning, undulating wall form.
In these works Ganch and Drenk both prize a kind of sleekness that could also be found in Jean-François Rauzier’s “Lower East Side Veduta,” on view at the booth of Waterhouse & Dodd. The piece is one of Rauzier’s “hyperphotos,” for which he “uses thousands of high-resolution close-ups views and stitches them into his large compositions, maintaining the focus and sharpness of the smallest detail,” according to the gallery’s website. The result is an unreality made up of snapshots of reality, offering, as do all of these works, a real pleasure for the viewer in parsing the pieces from the whole.
Pulse Miami Beach 2014 took place December 4–7 at Indian Beach Park (4601 Collins Ave, Miami Beach).