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MIAMI BEACH — Conventional wisdom suggests that public art ought to be easily legible, its image, message, or intent coming across clearly and quickly as one encounters it. Many of the works in Ground Control, Art Basel Miami Beach’s 2016 public art installation, mess with this expectation — though they do fulfill outdated expectations of gender disparity: only five of the 20 featured artists are female, a sharp reversal from 2014’s women-dominated exhibition. Curated once again by Nicholas Baume, the director and chief curator of New York’s Public Art Fund, the outdoor installation in Collins Park is full of works that are discreet to the point of disappearing, confounding in their fusion of materials and imagery, or that shape-shift as visitors move around them.
The show’s most powerful work and exceedingly photogenic centerpiece, Glenn Kaino’s “Invisible Man” (2016), illustrates this theme of trickery perfectly. From one side, the aluminum figure of a man with his arms raised is full of textural detail; from the other, it is a perfectly flat and mirrored surface. Installed high on a concrete plinth, the work is a clear reference to the killing of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer in 2014, which made the phrase “Hands up, don’t shoot” a rallying cry during protests. Other works in Ground Control are fairly apolitical, save perhaps Cuban sculptor Yoan Capote’s “Naturaleza Urbana” (2012), which consists of a giant pair of handcuffs clipped onto a tree trunk and a nearby sapling. Its title, Spanish for “Urban Nature,” suggests not only the ways that nature is controlled in urban environments, but also the overpolicing of “urban” residents.
The exhibition’s predominant forms of trickery are improbable fusions of materials — like Eric Baudart’s “Atomsphère” (2016), a working fan inside a Plexiglas container full of canola oil; things that are not made of what they look like — Tony Matelli’s “Jesus” (2016), for instance, is a seemingly decrepit statue made of cast concrete with about a dozen avocado halves (rendered in bronze) perched upon it like absurdist pigeons; and sculptures that appear truncated or doubled — like Jean-Marie Appriou’s mirrored dromedaries in “Mirage” (2016). Others only reveal their true natures at certain times, like Wagner Malta Tavares’s glow-in-the-dark lamppost “Malpertuis” (2016), which shines a lunar yellow-green at night, or Rob Pruitt’s modified limousine “Stretch, Grill and Chill” (2016), which has a grill instead of a motor and whose trunk was converted into a cooler so that it serves as a de facto party car (whenever the BBQ master is on duty).
A different subversion of expectations is at work in Ugo Rondinone’s “Miami Mountain” (2016), which is part of Ground Control but also a recent acquisition by the adjacent Bass Museum of Art that will remain on view after the rest of the art leaves. The 42-foot-tall work is made of five stacked boulders, each painted a saturated neon hue. Its materials and proportions are distinctly land art, but its palette is more Pop. In many ways, Rondinone’s cheerful stack of stones is the polar opposite of Kaino’s protest figure, but both offer a twist on conventional forms of public sculpture.
Ground Control, the public sector exhibition of Art Basel Miami Beach 2016, will remain on view in Collins Park (Collins Avenue at 21st Street, Miami Beach, Florida) through December 4. Ugo Rondinone’s “Miami Mountain” is permanently installed on site.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…