Art & Design

Has Anyone Seen Marina Abramovic? Day 2 of Art Basel Miami in Real-Time

Art & Design

Has Anyone Seen Marina Abramovic? Day 2 of Art Basel Miami in Real-Time


9 a.m. HAHAHAHA just kidding.

12:40 p.m. Actually, I’ve been awake this whole time. I rarely sleep in and sometimes I don’t sleep at all, and now there’s too much to think about maybe doing later. This is the first we’ve eaten. I’m with four of the other eight girls thrown into one house, ’00s MTV-styles, and we’re at David’s Cuban, a place that makes you believe there might actually be a David around. I order half a roast chicken with black beans and rice and fried plantains and a cafe con leche and I almost, almost finish it. Karley orders a salad, probably because she’s going to spend six hours of her night performing naked and painted while other people eat dinner. None of us want to miss it, but also, none of us are invited. Lauren is going to the Kurt Cobain thing. I do too, but can’t imagine crippling Weltschmerz will be conducive to my official afterparty experience.

2:05 p.m. Consider the facts: Right now, at an art fair near me, Diane von Furstenberg is having a luncheon to fete the launch of a limited-edition Evian water bottle.

3:12 p.m. NADA Miami is organized by the not-for-profit New Art Dealer’s Association and held every year at the Deauville, a hotel that feels more Sunset Boulevard than Miami Beach. It is traditionally my favourite, because can you establish a tradition by doing something twice? In nu-nu-nu Miami the answer’s yes.

3:30 p.m. It takes me exactly fifteen minutes to find a work I love and a work I can’t understand why anybody would love. Worst first: A vertical, rectangular painting, rendered in South Fla. retirement home pastels. It resembles sheets of cellophane cut and layered in oversized, overlapping patterns to create secondary, but still cheap, colours. It looks like a baby graphic designer did a gouache decoupes-inspired wedding shower invite. This can’t be explained even by my theory of art-made-for-Miami (see: yesterday’s post), because even that stuff is usually still made from something. Here I cannot see the faintest pencil-tracing of an idea. What possesses an artist to create emptiness? Nothingness is necessary, relatable, but not emptiness. This painting’s really got me down.

Soon, however, I chat up the delightful owner of Kansas Gallery, which I’ve never heard of but is blocks from my apartment in New York. I instinctively like a series of David J. Merritt’s works; well, I say instinctively, but it is also true that I’ve developed a Jasper Johns/Margiela taste for plaster. Merritt sculpts, roughly, clay shapes that recall human parts: Intestines? A vagina? Vaginas are a little been-there-bought-the-Slutever-t-shirt, but the more amorphous bits fascinate me. The gallerist, who is really from Kansas, decribes them as “organic.” Now I love. Organic is a word used to make lazy processes sound thoughtful, but here it takes on another entendre. These plasterworks whisper to you about your insides, then from them.

4:07 p.m. On the high dais, darkly clad art workers smoke. I borrow a yellow lighter from a table on which there are two yellow lighters. The guy with the first yellow lighter says to the girl with the second yellow lighter, as she hands it to me: “Hey! That’s my lighter!” Who says the art world doesn’t have a sense of humour???

5:14 p.m. “u here?” I assume Alice knows I am here, as in NADA, but it turns out she’s just landed and wants to know if I’m in Miami Beach. It also turns out she’s staying upstairs at the Deauville and feels like listening to me bitch about decorative art. Alice is a little bit magic, I think.

5:25 p.m. I tell Alice I think I wished a little too hard for the return of painting. For years it was gone, dead, simply not done. Same with drawing, says Alice. Now it’s back—but in a mostly not-new way. One of the best painters in America is Miami’s own Hernan Bas, and yet little I’m seeing here approaches his depth. My favourite painting at NADA, chez the Journal Gallery, is a huge-ass Eddie Martinez in Mondrian reds and blues with brilliant white space. The rest are mostly either: Graphic or abstract low-viscerality condo studies that render “contemporary” a genre, not an era, or paintings that think it’s really funny to be a painting in 2012, i.e. this garish question-mark series by an artist whose name I forgot on purpose.

Alice says that she went to art school, she was told not to draw. What she finds to hate is this cloying, prevalent “new” craft aesthetic; I’ve noticed it particularly, and without pleasure, in works made by women. Katharine Bernhadt’s painted portraits of rugs sold for like $20,000, despite being… painted portraits of rugs. Michelle Grabner’s gingham and needlepoint paintings were out-Pinterested only by Karin Gulbran’s ceramics. Speaking of ceramics, let’s not and say we did. This shit is like the kitten heel of art trends.

Since when was the great use of art to be useful?


5:42 p.m. Alice wants a cigarette. We step out onto the dais and into the whole diorama of Miami: The pastel sunset, glowing as if backlit, silhouetting tall palms not native to the scene. The acrylic-paint aqua pool below, and nobody swimming. The ocean coruscating beyond. For no reason at all, a carnival-type cart blaring psychedelic yacht rock. No reasons are needed. Just a minute.

6:37 p.m. If you hold the ocean up to your ear, you hear seashells.

8:00 p.m. OH-WOW Gallery‘s It Ain’t Fair, launched five years ago in then-sketchy Wynwood as the altiest of alternatives to Basel, holds its fifth and final edition in a rented space on South Beach, as if to scream, we give up! I’ve discovered some favourite artists through OH-WOW, including the tattoo artist-slash-art-artist Scott Campbell, the Puerto Rican painter Angel Otero, and Hanna Liden. I haven’t discovered a lot of favourite work. Tonight will not be the exception, although I would be curious to see Cyprien Gaillard’s work—what he calls “archeology of the future”—in public space.


8:29 p.m. A seapunk mated with a glamazon and produced the startling creature next to me, a tall blonde baby-babe made even taller by her ponytail plus acid-green scrunchie. She’s wearing vintage clothes with literal eye patches sewn onto them by her friend Jacques, and her shoes would be too much for most truck-stop strip joints. “Ever since I got to Miami,” she breathes, “I’ve just felt like sex.” Accurate. Also, her name is Signe and she doesn’t want to call her art “performance,” although it’s not “reality” either. Girl I feel you.

8:35 p.m. A very drunk-or-something young female has slumped to the floor outside the gallery. Alice and I are smoking. We try to help her, offer water. Her eyes are very blue and very kohl’d. I feel like she’s on a drug I wouldn’t do.

8:37 p.m. Some skinny cool witch with a half-shaved head is taking pictures of the slumped young female. I physically (gently!!!) stop her. “What?” she says. “I like her hat.”

I look at the hat, which is a black oversized trucker hat barnacled in big bad metal studs.

Nobody likes that hat,” I say, and the pictures stop.

9:01 p.m. Only now do I discover the alleyway that runs north to Espanola Way from 8th, or maybe lower, saving me from literally hundreds on people on both Washington and Collins. I still have the wine we bought for the beach but didn’t drink so I down it now, all the red, feeling unconscionably euphoric. It’s bath-warm. I want.

9:44 p.m. In my preview to the fair, I said I would feel guilty if I were invited to the Visionaire/Net-a-Porter/Mr. Porter party. Then I was invited. Now I am. Artist Jonathan Horowitz has set up one of his “free stores,” in which people bring something they don’t want, or can’t use, and take away something they do and can. This is for fun, or maybe anarchist practice, and works on an honour system. It’s also about fair (not equal) trade, which only works when the disparities among the trading group are mostly imagined. Right? I’ve brought a copy of The Prophet that my friend Julia forced me to read, except I didn’t really, and take away Andrew Kuo’s What, Me Worry? still in its shrink-wrap.

I don’t take away the stack of VIP cards to this year’s new UNTITLED art fair, which is either a sick burn or extremely ill-considered marketing.

9:54 p.m. Riccardo Tisci is here, so Marina Abramovic must be too. Like, she’s probably in the bathroom, lavishly cursing the Floridian humidity and its effects on her hair.

9:56 p.m. Marina Abramovic is not in the bathroom. What is art, even?

9:57 p.m.  I want to walk up to Dita Von Teese and say “Danny DeVito, I love your work!” but instead I just get some champagne.

10:40.p.m. At the obviously really fun BULLETT and OH WOW party at The Webster, our indispensable Noah W. gets caught taking photos of surprise guest Kanye, who showed up with Kim, a bulldog, and a bodyguard. The latter was none too impressed. Uh… but it’s for an Instagram retrospective?

11:20 p.m. It’s a good thing I didn’t say “I’m never going back to the Soho House again,” even though I definitively meant it, because here I am for the AmFAR party. There is a beautiful silent auction in the main room, but I am vibrating on an entirely different frequency, and my friends are at the beach. Annie is one of the hosts (also, the Rock Goddess Of Our Time).

I say hi. Then I look at the ocean and at nothing else and without thinking why I run all the way into it in my whole beautiful dress. So, that’s a party tip for you.

3:13 a.m. At the Shore Club, where the Westway is having its Miami parties, it’s a long walk from the dance floor to the bathrooms. On the last such walk I find myself just behind Terry Richardson. It’s closer than I’ve ever wanted to be. A laughing brunette says things to him I can hear, and he says things to her I can’t. “Terry,” she says, “good night. You never saw me.”