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Art Basel and Miami Art Week 2015: Our Essential Guide

Art Basel Miami Beach

The fair franchise that started it all returns to the Miami Beach Convention Center with a maze-like network of booths belonging to 267 of the world’s most high-profile galleries. The Canadian presence is in keeping with previous years, i.e., scant: blue-chip Montrealers Landau Fine Art, and Toronto-based artist-run centre Art Metropole, which returns to their shared booth with New York’s Printed Matter, Inc. to present limited-edition collectibles and artist publications.

With no signs of the gargantuan fair’s popularity slowing, significant changes and investments are being made to keep its heavyweight title on lock. Art Basel has hired Noah Horowitz, the new “director of American operations” for Miami Beach. At only 35, Horowitz has already been heralded by the New York Times as “an art-fair veteran”: he ran the online VIP Art Fair before becoming part of the Armory Show in New York, which he revamped by trimming it down and internationalizing it, kind of like when Posh Spice became Victoria Beckham. A $615 million renovation of the Miami Beach Convention Center, which will commence as soon as this year’s edition closes and is slated to be completed in 2018, may make his job challenging, though may also dovetail with his inclusive, ambitious vision. He recently told the Observer that, “One of the exciting things about this role is that it will allow me to cover parts of the regional US, and indeed to spend a lot more time in Mexico, South and Central America, and Canada. There’s a huge amount of ground to be covered.”

After trekking through the booths, save time to check out the fair’s ancillary events. We recommend trying to catch some of the nightly Short Film program, which consists of selections by all-female filmmakers. On Wednesday, December 2, from 8 to 9 p.m., Fairy Doll features video works by Rineke DijkstraKenyatta A.C. Hinkle and Howardena Pindell; on Thursday, December 3, from 10 to 11 p.m., catch works by Camille Henrot, Tracy Emin and Nikki S. Lee in Sea of Silence; and on Friday, December 4, from 9 to 10 p.m., see Snow Job, with films by Ida Applebroog, Diana Thater and Chloe Wise and Claire Christerson.

As for the Conversations program, attend a talk between artists Jenny Holzer and Trevor Paglen on Thursday, December 3, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. (and if you’re feeling adventurous and have $500 to spare, check with Metro Pictures to see if there’s still room to join Paglen on a 10-person scuba-diving expedition to the site of NSA-tapped underwater Internet cables). On Saturday, December 5, from 10 to 11:30 a.m., sit in on a one-hour panel discussion featuring Nicolas Bourriaud and a coterie of university instructors called “Should Art Schools Prepare Artists for the Artworld?” You might just learn something.

Take a seat and relax in the fair’s Public sector, held at Collins Park and curated by Nicholas Baume of New York’s Public Art Fund. Among the 27 large-scale public artworks presented by artists such as Katharina Grosse, Sterling Ruby and Olaf Breuning are some seating-inspired works, such as chairs from the original production of Robert Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach, and Sam Falls’s Healing Pavilion, which is studded with amethyst, lapis lazuli and other precious gems thought to have regenerative powers. Those attending the opening night on Wednesday, December 2, can expect to interact with a host of potentially problematic performers, such as Ryan Gander’s “dandy hobo” character and Yan Xing’s group of men instructed to flirt with members of the crowd.


There are a staggering 19 other fairs in town this Miami Art Week, including three brand-new ones (Satellite, X Contemporary and Art on Paper). After five years at the Deauville Beach Resort in North Beach, the main satellite fair, NADA, which has been called both the “anti-Art Basel” and the “‘cool kids’ fair,” has a new home two miles south, at the centrally located Fontainebleau Miami Beach. Admission is no longer free: single-day passes are $20 ($10 for students and seniors) and fair passes are $40, with proceeds going “towards establishing the NADA International Exhibitor Prize, a new initiative to support first-time exhibitors traveling internationally to the fair in 2016.” Out of 105 exhibitors, including Vancouver’s Or Gallery and Toronto’s Cooper Cole Gallery, which is returning for its third year, NADA is also presenting 21 first-time participants. On Thursday, December 3, and Friday, December 4, from 10 p.m. until the party dies, go to the Beaches Bar and Grill for NADAWAVE, a series of performances by artists and musicians presented in the form of a “high-energy dance party.” Among special guests this year are Casey Jane Ellison, Juiceboxxx, Malcolm Mooney, Sadaf, Jon Santos and Sporting Life


Canadian galleries MKG127, galerie antoine ertaskiran, MULHERIN and Parisian Laundry have all secured enviable beachfront booths at Untitled. As part of the fair’s programming, roving dance performances will take place inside the tent and on the surrounding sand and surf, and from noon to 4 p.m. daily, visitors can borrow a metal detector from the fair’s Tiki Bar and hunt along the beach for buried sculptures by various artists, as part of the participatory performance El Chapo’s Revenge (Beach Better Have My Money).

CONTEXT and Art Miami

Vancouver- and Toronto-based Bau-Xi Gallery will be representing Canada at CONTEXT alongside Montreal’s Art Mûr and Galerie de Bellefeuille. Toronto’s Olga Korper Gallery, Nicholas Metivier Gallery and Nikola Rukaj Gallery are all showing at Miami Art Week’s anchor fair, Art Miami.

Pulse and Scope

Canada is represented at Pulse by Montreal’s Galerie Simon Blais. Visitors can also check out Kate Durbin’s Hello Selfie! project, billed as a “new form of passive aggressive performance art” in which female performers take selfies for an hour straight. Over at Scope, Calgary- and Toronto-based Barbara Edwards Contemporary will present works by Shawn Evans, William KentridgeMedrie MacPhee and Kristopher Karklin. Karklin will also be included in the fair’s FEATURE | PHOTOGRAPHY program. Also at Scope, Montreal’s Station 16 Gallery will show contemporary urban street art by Stikki Peaches, Whatisadam, Cyrcle, Joe Iurato and Peter Andrew and Derek Blais. Scope is partnering with VH1 to present a series of musical performances that reference and celebrate ’90s hip hop in New York.

Design Miami

After feasting your eyes on impeccably designed furniture, lighting and objets d’art (New York-based Patrick Parrish Gallery’s booth is a must-visit), treat yourself to a chocolate terrarium (matcha green tea and ginger-chocolate mousse, buttermilk chocolate cake and yuzu dew drops) at the fair’s Egg Cafe, and bring some Miami flavour home by purchasing a scarf, umbrella, bow tie or pair of socks designed by Pierre Le-Tan for J.Crew at the Market.

Museums and private collections

Have breakfast surrounded by an immersive sound installation by Susan Philipsz and concrete bunker sculptures by Anselm Kiefer at the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse on Wednesday, December 2, Thursday, December 3, or Friday, December 4, from 9 a.m. to noon, hosted by Martin Z. Margulies and curator Katherine Hinds. Admission is a $10 donation to Lotus House Homeless Shelter.

“You’ve Got to Know the Rules…to Break Them,” an exhibition at the de la Cruz Collection, contextualizes new American painting with German Neo-Expressionism. It opens on Tuesday, December 1, and features 21st-century artworks by Félix González-Torres, Ana Mendieta, Tauba Auerbach, Walead Beshty and Rob Pruitt, among many others.

Girls’ Club is the only private collection open to the public that focuses solely on contemporary art made by women. This week it presents “Self-Proliferation,” an exhibition of works by more than 30 artists from the collection of Francie Bishop Good and David Horvitz. Go for an informal brunch reception on Saturday, December 5, from 9 a.m. onwards.

The Rubell Family Collection presents “NO MAN’S LAND,” a survey of female artists in the collection, including work by Mira Dancy, Isa Genzken, Yayoi Kusama, Kara Walker and many more. On December 3, from 9 to 11 a.m., the family’s daughter, Jennifer Rubell (who delighted Power Ball guests with an interactive food installation at Toronto’s Power Plant in June), will present a large-scale food-based performance called Devotion, using bread, butter and a couple engaged to be married to explore the concept of true love.

Artworld bigwigs Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian have teamed up on a mammoth exhibition titled “Unrealism,” which opens on Tuesday, December 1, from 5 to 8 p.m., at a 20,000-square-foot space in the Moore Building in the Design District (pro tip: to get there, take advantage of the free trolley service offered by the city while the Venetian Causeway is under construction). Expect figurative paintings by artists such as John Currin, Elizabeth Peyton and David Salle, and a long queue of people waiting to get in.

Got time for more? Also see: the Wolfsonian, Bakehouse Art ComplexMuseum of Contemporary Art North MiamiPérez Art Museum MiamiMuseum of Art and Design at Miami Dade CollegeLowe Art MuseumLocust ProjectsInstitute of Contemporary Art, MiamiPatricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum and Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation.


Devonté Hynes (Blood Orange) and Ryan McNamara have been participating in a year-long research residency facilitated by the Pérez Art Museum, which the culminates in the performance of Dimensions on Thursday, December 3. If you can’t score a ticket, go to the PAMM anyway to see the Nari Ward retrospective. Jamie xx and Four Tet perform as part of the III Points festival on Friday, December 4, at 10 p.m., but if you want that true Miami experience, see if you can talk your way into seeing Paris Hilton—who claims to be one of the “top five DJs in the world”—spinning at the W Hotel on Friday, December 4.

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