Examining Self And Community: Connecting At Art Basel Miami 2017

Dan Herschlein, Not Yet Titled, 2017, wood, pigmented joint compound, paint, wax, buttons, 54”x 38”x 10”; JTT, New York, Basel Positions, 2017.



By Nancy Nesvet

At Art Basel Miami Beach 2017, artists will lean, if not jump head first, into the narcissistic pool. You cannot blame them, with environmental disasters worldwide fighting for our attention, and calls for sympathy overwhelming. With hurricanes in Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands and
Puerto Rico, earthquakesin Mexico — all places with a high Latino demographic, like that of the exhibitors and visitors at Art Basel Miami — we are inundated with calls to act and give. But artists must first contemplate the problem, examine their intention and compose their action before making their response.

Artists are making work that analyzes their surroundings, mining their psyches and exploring the relationship of self to community. I’m not talking theory here, but suggest that artists are using methods uniquely theirs to self-analyze and project their findings to the greater populace. In this self-centered world the artist is creating, the artist is saying, “Look at me. I am creating art, as world leaders are.”

When public policy becomes an art project with words arranged to make a scenario of fake news, art becomes reality; the only reality we can ascertain and make our own is the artist’s. In work exhibited in all sectors of Art Basel Miami 2017 — including Galleries, where over 200 galleries will display the work of 4,000 artists, including contemporary treatments of sculpture, installation, photography, film, video and digital art; Nova, where galleries will show one to three artists’ works made in the last three years; Positions, where 14 artists chosen by curators, critics and collectors present a major project; Survey, which will present art historical projects from a range of cultures, generational and artistic treatments; or Kabinett, where 24 galleries each curate an exhibition by a single artist within their booths —different interpretations answer the question: What constitutes the artist’s self and community?

Several artists answer that it is their “stuff,” the materials and things with which they surround themselves. Mark Bradford (Hauser & Wirth, NY, Galleries sector) uses found objects. The domestic interiors in A.K. Burns’ installation (Callicoon Fine Arts, Positions sector) will consist of shabby people lying on beds haphazardly arranged as in a dorm, ward or shelter. Brooklyn artist Sue Williams’ autobiographical interiors will allow a voyeuristic view into her life and struggles, illustrated by domestic appliances in a suburban setting. The message is that violence and terror existing on the world stage are present in smaller, suburban communities. We are all wary and liable.

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