Collins Calling

David Velasco around the 11th Art Basel Miami Beach

Left: Kanye West. (Photo: Gavin Brown) Right: Urs Fischer and Tony Shafrazi with Nick Relph’s Raining Room, 2012. (Photo: Fabienne Stephan)

I HATE MIAMI. DON’T YOU? Death and doom beneath the surface, tugging at all the smiles desperate for a camera. Bodies working hard to keep up with their implants. Implants working hard to keep up with other people’s implants. Everyone riffing on the “Miami experience,” as if such a thing exists outside the echo chamber of Collins Avenue mania and melancholia. As if the art-world’s “experience” of Miami is anything but a distorted symptom of a few billionaires’ bucket lists. As if ABMB is not the Doomsday Clock for critique, slowly ticking down to the time when “criticism” will be downsized and sublimated into simple, snarky text messages to a friend.

Or, better, a well-timed Instagram. Gavin Brown posts a brilliant mise en abyme (a perversion of the #artselfie form) to the feed: Kanye West holding an Elizabeth Peyton of Kanye West. Celebrity folds into fandom folds into celebrity, all at the “scene” of the fair. Here’s a shot of Urs Fischer and Tony Shafrazi posing as art handlers putting together Nick Relph’s Raining Room on the patio at A-Rod’s $35 million pile on Biscayne Bay. A piece that, incidentally, made its “debut” just a few months back with Herald St. at the Basel iteration of Art Basel. At cocktails at A-Rod’s house on Wednesday night, Matthew Higgs is nearly tackled by security for trying to sneak a shot of the aforementioned installation. I see Martha Stewart, Demi Moore, Owen Wilson, that woman who used to play Jesse’s girlfriend on Full House, but I keep my camera at my hip. Here anyway the art turns more heads than the celebrities. Upstairs, A-Rod has installed an Andrea Bowers sculpture—a record of her experience as a tree-sitting environmental activist—in his batting cage. It seems diabolical, and I give him credit for hyperbolizing the push/pull tension between activism/fetishism, hobby/profession, feminine/masculine, and all the other binaries besides. It’s sleazy and weird in a way everyone likes. Bowers herself cracks jokes, and generally seems to dig the vibe.

Left: Dealer Gavin Brown. (Photo: Allese Thomson) Right: Dealer Jose Freire. (Photo: David Velasco)

Here, on the front page of Wednesday’s Art Newspaper, I learn of a “crisis of values.” Something about curators and critics being “enmeshed in the market.” Lots of ambivalence about the basic fact that, as a friend puts it, “Art costs money. It costs money to make, to see, to sell.” Not to mention to write about. Something about Miami elicits deep ambivalence. It’s something to watch people go through the motions of guilt—to see people look “caught” when you run into them trolling Collins after midnight. But that “guilt” is constitutive of the ideal of the “Miami experience.” You want to be seen with a sheepish grin on your face. I’m waiting for the Nan Goldin of this milieu—someone who captures the obscene mix of contrived exuberance that coagulates into a “scene.” Or maybe I need look no further than Billy Farrell? (Or cf. Instagram, above.)

FOMO. “Fear of missing out.” Here’s the defining symptom of ABMB and it snaps through our heads at text-message speed and crystallizes into the “action.” You’ve been waiting an hour and a half (poolside, at the Delano) for the A$AP Rocky concert to start, and maybe you should be at the event hosted by LA MoCA, Vanity Fair, Starz, and Samsung Galaxy at the Raleigh. Or the Chanel and Art.sy Beachside BBQ at Soho Beach House. Or the launch for AriZona Beverage’s Richard Prince Lemon Fizz at . . . well, maybe you weren’t invited. But then A$AP Rocky jumps onstage and, for the entirety of his fifteen-minute set, you’re reminded that the heady concoction of money and attitude and desire and publicity sometimes lands you somewhere special.

Left: Sia and Performa founder RoseLee Goldberg. (Photo: David Velasco) Right: Dealers Andrew Kreps and Chiara Repetto. (Photo: Allese Thomson)

You’re even reminded of that at the fair—I hate the fair. Don’t you?—when you round a corner and run into Michael Smith’s 1979/2003 slide show w/ sound track The U.S.A. Freestyle Disco Contest at Greene Naftali. The party “installed” in the belly of the beast. That it’s a piece both from and about disco’s denouement makes the gesture all the more out of time and somehow trenchant. The feeling of being too late to the party, the mortification over but continual engagement with the lifelines of a “scene,” is resonant—though maybe simply because everything “resonates” when several thousand people are mired in a ten-block radius, hopped up on alcohol and sunshine for days on end.

You’re reminded of this special stuff too when you see the new Ryan McGinley photos at Team, or when you walk through Wallspace and Casey Kaplan and other galleries still downed by Hurricane Sandy, setting up shop here to keep the homefront afloat up there. Or when you spot Julia Dault’s new paintings at Harris Lieberman. Or spy all those Koons up for grabs at Gagosian. Or when you drop by the other galleries from abroad—young and old, big and small—who connect the global dots and broaden horizons and conversations. And you remember that the money made and spent (and occasionally, quite literally, torn up in front of you) translates and transmogrifies into other, sometimes very different, forms of capital elsewhere that help float a whole big art-world boat. You hold up that trinket you nabbed at the Jonathan Horowitz “free store” at the SLS Hotel (hosted by Visionaire, NET-A-PORTER.COM and MR PORTER.COM). And you remember that moment at A-Rod’s when you ran into Sia, lyricist and guest singer for Rihanna’s #1 hit “Diamonds.” You remember that song playing in the background as she crooned along—without cynicism or irony or detachment—and invited you to touch her face and feel the vibrations in her vocal chords and nasal passages, and how you wondered how these tumid parties also make room for weird and joyous and intimately human moments.

Left: Visionaire editor Cecilia Dean. (Photo: Kate Sutton) Right: Models advertise the Jonathan Horowitz free store. (Photo: David Velasco)

“This is what it’s all about! Together on Collins! Midnight! 70 degrees!” shouts Tina Kukielski, cocurator of the next Carnegie International. Was this before or after her weird and joyous and intimate smoke-saturated party at the lounge for the Veterans of Foreign Wars? Does before or after even matter here in FOMO-land? The people on Collins are shamelessly beautiful and a different Rihanna song radiates from every car. There’s an incredible little sandwich place around the corner on Fourteenth and Washington that’s open from 9 AM to 6 AM. The text messages are all witty and poignant and evanescent. All your friends are at the next party. There’s always a next party.

I love Miami. Don’t you?

Left: Dealers Glenn Scott Wright and Victoria Miro. Right: A$AP Rocky at the Delano. (Photos: David Velasco)

Left: Snapshot of Michael Smith, The U.S.A. Freestyle Disco Contest, 1979/2003. Right: Writer Kevin McGarry and songstress Lauren Devine. (Photos: David Velasco)

Left: Dealers Gilda Axelroud and Eivind Furnesvik. Right: Dealer Anton Kern. (Photos: Frank Exposito)

Left: Dealers Casey Kaplan and Loring Randolph. (Photo: Frank Exposito) Right: Dealers Ales Ortuzar and David Zwirner (right). (Photo: Allese Thomson)

Left: Curator Simone Castets and dealer Karolina Dankow. Right: Dealers Jeffrey Rowledge, Vera Alemani, and Alexandra Tuttle. (Photos: Frank Exposito)

Left: Dealers Christine Messineo and Stefania Bortolami. Right: Dealers Jennifer Loh and Shaun Caley Regen. (Photos: Frank Exposito)

Left: Dealers Tim Blum and Jeff Poe. Right: White Columns director Matthew Higgs. (Photos: Allese Thomson)