Art Basel Miami 2022 brought together numerous meaningful works this time. After finishing this short write-up, I realized that most of the artworks below are created by women. How encouraging!
1) Innocence of Kiki Smith’s tranquil Sleeping Alice with Resting Sheep is beautifully juxtaposed with the violent eroticism of Tracy Emin’s large-scale monochromatic canvases. In summation, the works bring in age-old archetypes about a woman’s nature – an innocent child who grows into an erotic creature enabled by her passion. Innocence transforms into seduction while both states remain tangible.
2) Frida Kahlo corset from the 1950s – symbolism of Frida’s enchantment with communism is poignant. We know what communism has achieved in the country where it was worshipped and we also know how much pain Frida has suffered. Seeing this corset encapsulated in a glass cage at the center of Art Basel was somewhat jarring. Pain brought into a marketplace.
3) Kat Lyon’s, a young, Brooklyn-based artist, has always been enigmatic with her intuitive meditations on the ethics between human and animalistic. Her stories have an eerie, almost disturbing quality, evoking archetypal memories from Lascaux caves, but bringing more recent dilemmas about how we treat our ecosystems.
4) Andrea Bowers’ Political Ribbons stood out with their simple, but powerful messages. The artist uses a multicolored medium of traditional feminine pastime. Viewers are encouraged to take one home and consider what it means to be a woman in the XXI century and how we fight patriarchy from here. The ribbon I got is of a vibrant red color and it says: My body is not your business.
5) Janine Antoni, I unfold, I infold – another outstanding artist who works with the legacy of feminism. A woman’s palm is stretched outward – a traditional gesture of the Virgin Mary sending out her grace into the universe. But then the second part of the gold-encrusted diptych returns the grace and the power to the woman’s body. Traditional iconography is twisted to affirm the new reality.
6) Aki Sasamoto’s Squirrel Doors, inspired by the traditional Japanese shoji screens, is a meditation on the nature of barriers, what is on the inside and on the outside, surface and interior, real and imagined. Sponges, fishing lures, protractors, plastic caps, and wind chimes are trapped in between the wood and layers of shoji paper. We see the outline, but not the functionality. Form, but not the embedded meanings. The connection between the two is tenuous at best.
7) Vickie Pierre – You Will Be the Moon and I Will Be the Earth (Gaia) – Haitian American artist uses mixed media to look deeper into self-identity, cultural politics, Haitian mythology, and more. Yet, it is just delightful to look at her anthropomorphic figures who are like clouds floating in the ether.
8) Hew Locke – Souvenir comes from the artist’s research into so-called Parian busts of Queen Victoria, first presented at the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, held in London in 1851. Locke takes this traditional representation of European aristocracy and turns it around to confront colonial and post-colonial discourse.
9) Kiki Smith presented by Timothy Taylor – another enigmatic work of a master. A person shut out from the world by her own accord or by the will of the surrounding materiality. Like every big artist, Smith stands for ambiguity and complexity. Only spending more time in her presence can land some personal answers.
10) Lucio Fontana, Crucifixion, 1950-1955 – beautiful, fluid rendering of a figure we all know. But the rage, instead of the commonplace serenity, is palpable. The outcome of Fontana’s story could be different than expected.
Article by Nina Mdivani