Miami Art Basel may have had to ‘swim with the fishes’ this year but to quote Will Smith, it remains “the city where the heat is on”. Thanks to Florida’s relatively lax covid restrictions New Yorkers, Los Angelinos, and Euros alike are congregating in Miami’s sunny shores over the next two weeks to celebrate what critics are referring to as “zombie Art Basel”.
The art, music and social set have taken up camp across SoBe’s nicest hotels (Edition, One, Faena, Setai, Loews) and have made the ‘magic city’ their own for the season. With them has come a stream of underground parties, mini festivals and exhibitions scattered around town. The pilgrimage has been such that now even the city’s own Director of Tourism and Culture has joined the bandwagon – announcing that they will be running a series of online and in-person events throughout the next few weeks until the end of the year.
The newly announced programme includes a robust collection of art and cultural activations for Miami residents and the public to enjoy, including the innovative “No Vacancy” program starting Nov 30th. The latter pairs ten artists with ten local hotels and grants to each artist $10,000 to create a work that fits into the style of each hotel.
Final works will be voted on by a panel of expert judges as well as members of the public, with the winner of the judge’s ruling earning $20,000 in prize money and $5,000 from the public vote.
Participating hotels include trendy favourites on the South Beach strip such as Avalon, The Betsy and Lenox Miami Beach – all within walking distance to each other so that it flows as a large uniform exhibition of sorts.
Alongside this the City has introduced Miami Art Week, scheduled to take place from December 2 to December 6, giving a formal accompaniment to the newly minted Miami OVR (Art Basel’s virtual attempt to maintain some presence through ‘Online Viewing Rooms’).
Through OVR, Basel will introduce two VIP previews and two general public viewings of works from 255 galleries spanning 30 countries and divided in five sections: Galleries (works from leading galleries), Edition (edition pieces), Nova (works created within the last three years), Positions (dedicated to emerging artists) and Survey (works created before the year 2000). Highlights are expected from regular headline galleries such as Hauser & Wirth and White Cube.
Also new is Art Week’s Art Outside presentation brought forward by The Bass Museum – a connected route of Miami Beach’s public artwork which will feature new installations as well as existing outdoor art. The route, Miami Today reported, will go from the Bass to the Miami Beach Convention Center before heading toward Lincoln Road and then the nearby boardwalk. Partner institutions include the W South Beach Hotel, the Wolfsonian and Miami Beach Urban Studios all of whom will present art to be included in the tour.
Further to this, the city is presenting a new program that grants local artists and non-profit arts organisations free space in empty storefronts in high-density areas such as Lincoln Road, Washington Avenue and 41st Street. Through this initiative, property owners will allow artists to utilise free space for 60-90 days and the city will provide financial support for expenses (up to $200k) such as helping move-in, setup and insurance costs.
As Miami does its utmost to preserve its position among the key global cultural centres for contemporary art – artists and their entourages are enjoying its open beaches and seemingly endless strew of private villa parties; ensuring that the city maintains it’s reputation as the “city where the heat is on – All night, on the beach till the break of dawn”.
“Welcome to Miami” Indeed.