polis: a collective blog about cities worldwide

Art Basel 2010 in Pictures

by Hector Fernando Burga

Art Basel-Miami Beach is a global art fair which divides its exhibitions between the city of Basel, Switzerland, and Miami, USA. Every year, since 2001, for a week during the month of December, “Baselites” flock to Miami like migrating snow birds to nest in fairs, galleries, exhibits and parties, extending from the City of Miami Beach to mainland Miami.

Since its inception in the early 2000s, Art Basel has had deep effects on the city. The festival has contributed to Miami's global exposure as center of cultural production where art, modeling, media, fashion, music and TV are produced and exported to the world. Similarly, the relationship between artists, gallery owners, developers and tourists who partake in the consumption of cultural products, has led some to speculate upon the development of a Miami model of art.

Art Basel Miami Beach brings great benefits to Miami, as the global art scene - as well as capital - turn to the city. Yet interesting contradictions also adorn this periodic urban spectacle. While Miami's brand as a multicultural city and exotic location reinforce the status of the art scene unfolding in urban neighborhoods such as Wynwood, the design district and Miami beach, Art Basel remains a distant experience to many local residents as well as less known local artists throughout metropolitan Miami. The relationship between art and urban development also opens a series of interrogation regarding the role of artists, art collectors, and art itself as a force which often brings gentrification to low income neighborhoods.

Questions abound in Art Basel Miami Beach, given the magnitude of the event and the networks, both visible and invisible, which make it happen. What follows is a visual field diary of the events and places which defined the Art Basel experience in 2010.

One of Miami's premier Historic Structures; The Moore Furniture Building acquires new life through an exclusive VIP party in the heart of Miami's Design District. Historic preservation and Culture mix in the emergent Miami nightlife.

Courtesy of Friends with You, play-theme exhibit lets you forget your worries as you bounce in, around, and next to inflatable fungi and other amorphous inflatable candy like structures in Rainbow City.

The brand of "independent thinking" and alternative ways of represen' is developed by Miami's non-for-profit for Artists: Miami's Independent's thinkers.

Another more conventional way of branding independent thinking.

"Orginal Gangsta" Grafitti in the gentrifying neighborhood of Wynwood

A parallel form of graffiti signaling at harsher realities faced by Wynwood residents.

Another Icon pointing to alternative narratives not far from all the Art action...

.... and then, an encounter with Hello Kitty.

Graffiti artist London Police working on his autobiographical piece "Fags".

Storm Troopers take on a renovated building in Miami Beach in an outdoor exhibit.

Inside the Art Basel Fair in the Miami Beach Convention Center. Within a labrynth-like maze of art galleries, exhibits, lecture spaces, cafes and passages, alleys and showrooms, Artificial public green spaces are set in place. The public space of the city is brought inside as the cultural production and consumption of the Art Market takes over the city.

"Infrastructures of Leisure" at an outdoor Art Basel exhibit.

Credits: Photos by Hector Fernando Burga.