Dis Education

Kate Sutton around Art Basel Miami Beach

Left: LAND director Shamim Momin. (Photo: Kate Sutton) Right: Performers at the Vanessa Beecroft performance for Neville Wakefield's collaboration with Playboy. (Photo: Andy Guzzonatto)

“WHERE IS EVERYONE? It was so quiet at the fair today . . . ” moaned a dealer nursing a caipirinha poolside at the Delano. The perennial complaint that there’s too much going on (a grumble right up there with, “But I’m on the list!”) this year struck a stark contrast with the more relaxed-fit feel at Art Basel proper.

Thus I was unprepared for the bustle Thursday morning at the opening for NADA, where most visitors stuck to the party line and endorsed the gig as an enthusiastic antidote to Big Fair bullying. It’s tricky to tell how much of this has to do with the work on view, and how much is the MadMenYourself atmosphere of the Deauville Beach Resort. Debating this point, John Kelsey admitted, “A lot of that work actually requires much more time than you would think.” As I navigated booths by galleries such as Hilary Crisp, Country Club, 179 Canal, Andreas Melas Presents, and Mitterrand+Sanz, I noted plenty of visitors who were taking the time—curator Jens Hoffmann, collector Mark Rosman, and dealer Johann König among them.

That evening I dropped by the Webster for the Fantom and La Mer party before trekking north to the Soho Beach House, where Victoria Miro was hosting a dinner celebrating Isaac Julien’s exhibition at the Bass Museum. While many of the guests––including Patricia Marshall, RoseLee Goldberg, and Thelma Golden––had already tested out the pool during the White Cube party earlier in the week, it seemed they were as eager to get a glimpse at the penthouse as the staff was eager to show it off. The majority of the revelers kept to the rooftop terrace, snuggling into cabanas while waiters brought around a “dinner” of crudités. “Might as well save myself the $500 and try out the entrees here,” a nearby guest muttered, reaching for some mushroom risotto. The Rubells showed up en masse, followed by artist Olaf Breuning, who was taking pictures later at the Swiss Institute/Bally bash (which also featured a laser show by Peaches). “If you’re at the Standard later, I have a pool full of fake tits and flowers,” Breuning noted. “Check it out.”

Left: Dealer Kate Werble at NADA. Right: GMG Gallery's Anna Komar and artist Anton Ginzburg at NADA. (Photos: Andy Guzzonatto)

Actually, the Standard, hosting a dinner in honor of Merce Cunningham’s Legacy Tour, was the next stop on my agenda. (No sign of Breuning’s promised T&F, which I chalked up to another Miami joke.) As I tried not to stare at an elderly dance enthusiast unknowingly draining his ceviche into the buffet bowl of pita chips, I chatted with sometime Miami resident Daniel Arsham, who had built the set for that weekend’s Cunningham performances. Coincidentally, the busy artist had also designed one of the Day of the Dead masks handed out at Le Baron that night, a party favor conceived by DJ=artist duo Kolkoz, who were inspired by a recent residency in Mexico City.

Friday afternoon, I ventured to the bayside Mondrian Hotel for The Island, a one-day-only exhibition at Flagler Memorial Island. Organized by LAND and local staple OHWOW, the fleeting show boasted works by Jack Pierson, Hanna Liden, Terence Koh, Stefan Brüggemann, and Naomi Fisher, among others. According to the invite, boats would be leaving “every few minutes.” Once an hour was more like it. Out on the docks, I noticed a few who couldn’t make it aboard negotiating to have some Jet Skiers take them over. Although the wait was ridiculously long, the ride itself was less than five minutes—enough time for a scantily-clad cabana boy to hand out Café Bustelo energy drinks to the flagging crowd. This buoyed morale for when we pulled up to the picture-perfect island only to find a desperate-looking group of visitors huddling in wait for the boat beside two of Koh’s “found skeletons” and the purposefully decrepit carnival lettering of Pierson’s FAME.

Left: Artist Jack Pierson. (Photo: David Velasco) Right: Brody Condon's piece at The Island. (Photo: Jack Pierson)

Watching another “islander” duck under a low-lying tree branch in Chloé clogs, I was grateful for the complimentary flip-flops, which allowed us to take shortcuts through the water. OH WOW’s Aaron Bondaroff spied us tromping around amid the waves. “It was a lot easier to get around before the tide came in,” he said, grinning sheepishly. Back on shore, I found myself casting longing glances at both Adrien Brody, who was making a cell-phone video of the park rules sign, and the Chow clan’s boat, docked within a tempting swimming distance from the beach. We completed our lap around the island and rejoined the horde of refugees, all of whom were competing over who had the most urgent reason to return to the mainland. (“I have a flight!” “I left my dog in the car!”) When the boat did come into view, Bondaroff broke from the crowd and scaled the side of the ship. The two Bustelo boys were more than willing to assist any girls who also opted to climb over the sides. “There’s no need to push. There’s room for everyone,” an older couple behind me chided. Needless to say, when the boat did shove off, that couple was effectively Gilliganed––at least for another hour or so.

Back in the blessed city, I dropped by the Oceanfront for the 032c-curated Berlin night, where AIDS-3D’s advertised “high-energy double-avatar motion tracking performance” turned out to be a small screen superimposing 3-D models over the artists as they DJ’ed. I swapped hellos with curators Massimiliano Gioni, Cecilia Alemani, and Carson Chan and artist Cyril Duval before crossing the square to the Visionaire party at the W (heeding 032c editor Joerg Koch’s advice, “Come early, or don’t come at all”). The combination of restrictive couture, Beluga cocktails, and winding paths through the gravel-lined “Grove” made for a unique barrage of elbows and air-kisses among guests such as Christian Louboutin, Poppy de Villeneuve, Nate Lowman, Ryan McGinley, Tilda Swinton, Nicky Hilton, and Wolfgang Tillmans. Eyeing Visionaire’s Cecilia Dean, magnificently decked out in Viktor & Rolf (who were also in attendance), it was hard to imagine that just a few hours earlier she had been contemplating crawling up the side of a boat.

Left: Guests in masks at Le Baron. (Photo: Jipsy) Right: Curator Carson Chan and AIDS-3D's Daniel Keller and Nik Kosmas. (Photo: Kate Sutton)

As soon as the bar went dry, we shuffled over to Coco DeVille, where the Jane Hotel was cohosting a bash with conceptual periodical The Thing. We loaded up on Swedish fish and pressed on to Rokbar, which had been taken over for the week by the disreputable mavens of Dis magazine. Distracted by a pair of legs sticking out ominously over the bar, I hardly registered when the DJ played the first Arab pop song. What I had assumed was a fluke track extended into an hour of what was essentially the same catchy rhythm (“Hezbollah disco?” offered writer Adam Kleinman). The crowd, featuring veteran party-power-players such as Daniel Buchholz, Friedrich Petzel, Beatrix Ruf, and artist Nik Gambaroff, was delightful.

On Saturday, I found myself watching more nude performers in a pool (apparently no one had had enough after Mariah Robertson’s mash-up at the Delano on Thursday). This time it was at the Standard as part of Vanessa Beecroft’s contribution to Neville Wakefield’s Playboy-bankrolled project, “Nude as Muse.” From the buzz amid the tables, the true scandal hadn’t been the performances (which included ditties by Kembra Pfahler and Olympia Scarry) but rather the welcome speech, which apparently lauded an era when “HIV-positive is now a positive thing.” Since this was Playboy, it didn’t come as a surprise when the yachts began to arrive replete with the requisite creepy old men. Scanning the crowd, I picked out hotelier André Balazs, Brooke Geahan, multiple Schnabels (Lola even participated with a piece of her own), and LA MoCA director Jeffrey Deitch.

Left: Adrien Brody. (Photo: Kate Sutton) Right: Dealers Alexander Hertling and Toby Webster. (Photo: David Velasco)

Ducking through the Standard’s lobby, I dropped by the rousing launch for Andrew Kuo’s book What Me Worry before pushing on to the Delano (again) for a Ping-Pong party hosted by Susan Sarandon. I paused briefly to appreciate dealer Stefania Bortolami’s table skills before heading to Kill Your Idol bar. There, art-world twins Pati and Alexander Hertling hosted their own joint birthday party, bringing in DJs from Psychic Youth as well as electropop locals This Heart Electric. The place was packed with much of the Mitteleuropa crowd I had seen at the Rokbar, as well as Cay Sophie Rabinowitz and Christian Rattemeyer; dealers Tony Webster and Eivind Furnesvik, and artists Latifa Echakhch and Valentin Carron.

Sunday morning, I steadied myself with a large cup of coffee and ambled over to Art Basel Conversations, where moderator Hans Ulrich Obrist had assembled a massive panel on “The School Makers” with speakers including artist Tania Bruguera, Yoshua Okón and Eduardo Abaroa of Mexico City’s SOMA, members of Bruce High Quality Foundation (guess that anonymity thing’s out the window now?), the end’s Domingo Castillo, and Mountain School’s Piero Golia. This year they’d moved the talks from the glorious Oceanfront to the convention center. “Sucks we can’t smoke anymore,” one of the BHQFers lamented to a sympathetic Beatrix Ruf.

Touching on everything from pedagogue Cedric Price to The Ignorant Schoolmaster to that Bravo art reality show, everyone agreed that while no one really knows what an art education should look like, it definitely involves discussion. As another BHQFer put it: “We’re all in this dark abyss of trying to figure out what being an artist means, and maybe we just need to be in a room with other people who are trying to figure it out.”

Left: Artist Andrew Kuo, New Museum curator Benjamin Godsill, and dealers Carolyn Ramo and Mariko Munro. Right: Visionaire's Cecilia Dean. (Photos: Kate Sutton)

Left: Artist Ryan Trecartin with collector Mera Rubell. (Photo: Kate Sutton) Right: Nektar De Stagni and artist Martin Oppel. (Photo: Andy Guzzonatto)

Left: A foot at the Rokbar. Right: Curator Norman Rosenthal. (Photos: Kate Sutton)

Left: Performers at the Vanessa Beecroft performance for Neville Wakefield's collaboration with Playboy. (Photo: Andy Guzzonatto) Right: OH WOW's Aaron Bondaroff and artist Lucien Smith. (Photo: Kate Sutton)

Left: Artist Olaf Breuning. Right: Dealer Lisa Spellman and CCA Wattis director Jens Hoffmann. (Photos: Kate Sutton)

Left: Artist Daniel Arsham. Right: “The School Makers” at Art Basel Conversations. (Photos: Kate Sutton)

Left: Writer Adam Kleinman. Right: Stefania Bortolami at the Ping-Pong tables. (Photos: Kate Sutton)

Left: Dealer Patrick Seguin (right). (Photo: David Velasco) Right: Monopol editor Holger Liebs (right) at Monopol iPad launch.