There was a mood of introspection at this year’s art week in Miami. Was it a pending sign of the times or a somber foreshadowing of a tragedy still unfolding? While horrific details of the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland, California were slowly emerging over the weekend, the annual art party in Miami, Florida was in full swing.
Art Basel Miami Beach 2016 stoically went through the motions this year without the usual exuberance of a spoiled art world Jetset. An airplane towing a “Miami Lock and Load” banner circled overhead (Tripadvisor’s #1 activity in the “fun and games” category) while gallery goers discussed with apparent unease the impact of the US elections, fearing perhaps that they and their investments in the art world were now in the crosshairs of bad times to come. Maybe it was a slow realization that that the collector class itself is just part of a disappearing establishment bitterly holding on to a power hierarchy in which they are at the center of the cultural universe. While some gallerists insisted that they were as busy as ever, it just didn’t feel like the posh Art Basel Hongkong or the elegant mothership in Switzerland, which preceded Miami earlier in the year.
Meanwhile, a few blocks away, beach combing fashionistas at SCOPE skirted past the sparsely populated art talks and crowded into the bling filled corridors and flashy art stalls with the helpful herding of zealous gallerists. Eager to please the crowd with “buy now” discounts and promises to undercut the competition, some gallery operators offered the same or similar artworks only a few booths away from each other. Dealers at the other fairs cringed upon hearing of such things. An art space director presenting at one of the other shows in town told me he wouldn’t accept an invitation to Scope even if they offered him a space for free. Such was his assessment of the crowd pleasing antics. That seems a bit of harsh considering that art fairs are commercial enterprises after all. Let’s not forget that Artists can’t live on bread and water alone, and the rent still has to be paid, even if your studio is in a run down warehouse.
Luckily, collector patience was rewarded with a refreshing show at Untitled. Nestled under the silent beats of the Wynwood Radio filled tent, the atmosphere at Untitled was notably more relaxed than at the other fairs. The booths were spacious and well designed and the conversation confident and relaxed. While gallery directors quietly opined about the previous years’ successes, they admitted to enjoying more time this year to engage interested collectors with backstories about the artists and their artworks in the hopes of building new client relationships which will reward them in the future. Together with Design Miami, Untitled offered perhaps the best evidence that the international art world is not just about the art parties.
The weekend ended with a mix of feelings after four days of highs and lows at the Miami art tents. Time will only tell what tide of new and evolving artists will wash up onto art shores in 2017. Despite all of the melancholy of Miami art week, though, one thing is for sure: there is no lacking of exuberance at the beach bars and block parties in Wynwood and on Ocean Drive. One can only pray that the artists living and working out of the warehouses and underground art spaces (as well as their friends and fans) in Miami and elsewhere around the world stay safe in the year ahead. Well heeled hipsters and financiers in the collector class would do well to remind themselves and their friends that it is the labor of these artists’ passion which feeds our intense interest and fascination. If we spent more time ensuring safe spaces for artists to create, we could spend more time enjoying the after party. You can find a list of reputable organizations to support the victims of the Oakland warehouse fire here.
Since Project Art Lounge began in 2013, a majority of the artists we support have been women. Michele Schuff, Silvia Sinha, Kamila Najbrtová and Pola Dwurnik are among the artists featured in exhibitions and on www.projectartlounge.com.
The fact that these artists are women really didn’t matter in their choosing as much as the fact that they make great art. Since the 1970’s there has been a lot written about how the “western male viewpoint” in art history has largely ignored the careers of Great Women Artists. In the 1980’s, the Guerilla Girls broadened the discussion of gender bias to highlight how sexism and other forms of discrimination impact art, film and pop culture.
While female artists like Marina Abramovic, Diane Arbus, Tracey Emin and Nan Goldin have achieved considerable fame, only a handful of living women artists including Yayoi Kusama and Cindy Sherman are recognized in the top-ranks of the art world according to Artnet’s Top-100 Living Artists. Despite considerable progress, the subject of sexism and sexual exploitation portrayed by female artists through their work reflect an ongoing reality that requires continued attention.
In a political year dominated by discussions about women and power, it’s worth reflecting on the contribution women artists have made to this important debate. Unlike their male counterparts who often brand themselves as pinnacles of individual strength, many of the strongest voices among female artists have emphasized strength through collaboration and collective action. At the forefront of the movement was the Fight Censorship Group created by artist Anita Steckel, which was as much about freedom of expression as it was about putting forth a feminist agenda.
Like the Fight Censorship Group and the Guerrilla Girls, new groups are keeping the conversation going. At a time where public discourse is increasingly dominated by social media, a refreshing example of real world collaboration is The Fainting Club, an “old boys network for women” founded by L.A. based artist Zoe Crosher. The Fainting Club brings together women artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians and chefs to celebrate their contribution to creative diversity. One recent event references the seminal 1979 artwork “The Dinner Party” by artist Judy Chicago with partygoers participating in a wikipedia edit-a-thon to add 39 new names to our collective historical record.
At the end of the day, by celebrating women – whether consciously or not – Project Art Lounge is happy to support the vision and stories these artists have to share. Their legacy, like the contribution of all women in art, politics and other realms of public life is worthy of our support. In the months ahead, Project Art Lounge, which recently relocated to the New York area, will be creating new ways to connect artists, collectors and supporting institutions. Stay tuned and join the conversation.
Pola Dwurnik is not only a painter; through her paintings and drawings she is also a song-writer. Her lyrics are full of mystery and intrigue. They are about love, crime, sex and prayer – all the elements that make up a good song or story. In society and the media, these stories are often told from the man’s point of view. It is time to listen to a woman’s voice, to a Queen of Painting.
As the world around us is changing and some voices – including in Pola’s native Poland – cling desperately to tradition, Pola’s work represents a break with the past and a challenge to conventional wisdom. Her’s is not the motherly voice that serenades us into feelings of calm and security. It is the voice of strength and conviction that conveys a sense that things will never be the same. In Pola’s kingdom, which often interweaves the animal and human worlds, audacity is celebrated and it’s only natural that the protagonist is a woman – and she comes out on top. In her book “GIRL ON CANVAS“, Pola’s friend and journalist Jerzy Szgiel writes “Painting your nails is not the same as sharpening your claws and yet they are somehow related.”
Following on the heels of “Before the Orgy” – a major exhibition of her paintings, Pola Dwurnik’s new show focuses on her recent paper works in gouache, watercolour, ink, pencil:
Pola Dwurnik. A Song About a Doctor and Other Drawings
Opening: 15 Jan 2016, 5 PM
15 Jan 2016 – 29 Feb 2016
Wroclaw Contemporary Museum
While Pola’s art is often a depiction of herself and her own unique fantasy world, make no mistake. The emotions, fears, anxiety and mystery that her pictures convey are just as much a reflection about us – her subjects – as it is about the Queen of Painting. Pola works in her studios in Berlin and Warsaw.
As the new year unfolds, so too does another year of discovery and dialogue with artists and art enthusiasts alike. Project Art Lounge is part passion, part obsession, always on the look out for interesting art spaces, programs and events to review and recommend.
Last year at this time, we were discovering Rutherford Chang’s White Album project at Tokyo Wondersite, an installation comprised of Chang’s collection of the Beatles’ original numbered White Album. The New York based conceptual artist is known for his obsessive collection, organization and re-arrangement of mass media objects. At last count, Chang has collected 1,368 of the Beatles’ White Album, which he catalogues and exhibits in their original numerical order. He even created his own vinyl mash-up of 100 White Albums with an original cover that is anything but white – a composite of scratches, doodles and dedications of the earlier owners. If you’d like to sell (or donate) your copy to Chang, he’ll archive it on his We Buy White Albums instagram page.
What makes Chang’s work interesting and compelling is its timeless quality. His is a never ending project. There’s always a clear goal in mind, but the process is always ongoing. In his current project (Game Boy Tetris), Chang posts videos of his endless quest to attain the Nr. 1 global highscore ranking in the iconic video game (he’s already in second place). As with the White Albums project, futility never seems far off. After all, what’s the point of possessing thousands of White Albums or ascending to the top of a video game highscore list? As Chang describes it, it’s less about winning than about “squeezing in as much perfection as possible in this limited time before your inevitable death.”
If that doesn’t sound like a positive note to start the new year on, think of it in the spirit of Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘life is a journey, not a destination’. Chang’s repetitive zen like projects remind us to live in the moment rather than in the past or the future. As you set about realizing your own projects for 2016, Project Art Lounge wishes you an enjoyable and artful journey and a Happy New Year.
Domo Arigato to all of the visitors to the exhibition “Water Abstracts” – artworks by Berlin artist Silvia Sinha. Thanks for commenting on the tranquil beauty of these works, which mirror the Japanese aesthetic for calm (odayaka), impermanence (mujō) and the essence of minimalist order (kanso). Enjoy this recap. If you like what you see, think about adding Silvia’s works to your collection. Contact Project Art Lounge for details.
Creative collaboration is in the DNA of Hikarie 8/ – the “Shibuya style” marketplace that has become a meeting point for fans of art and design in Tokyo. Located on the 8th floor of the Shibuya Hikarie building, the panorama windows offer a great viewing spot overlooking the 3 million people who pass through busy Shibuya Station every day. It is also the perfect place to see “Water Abstracts” – an exhibition of photographic artworks by German artist Silvia Sinha. In painterly images, Silvia captures the light and flow of Berlin, which similar to Tokyo is full of energy and vitality. By depicting a city reflected in rippling bodies of water, Sinha conveys a sense of tranquility as well as the fleeting nature of the urban landscape. “Water Abstracts” – Silvia Sinha runs through Sunday, November 22nd.
Just as the Paris Photo Show opens its doors to international artists next week, Project Art Lounge is pleased to present the works of European photographer Silvia Sinha at one of Tokyo’s most innovative art and design spaces. Following an invitation-only preview earlier this year, “Water Abstracts” by Berlin based Silvia Sinha will be on display from November 19-22, 2015 at Hikarie 8 / Creative Lounge across from the busy Shibuya station.
Like Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Seascapes, Silvia Sinha takes us on a “voyage of seeing” in her series “Water Abstracts”. In photographs which the artist likens to “painting on the water’s surface” Sinha captures the ever changing light and flow (光と流) of the urban landscape.
Silvia Sinha’s recent works were featured in the European Month of Photography in 2014 in Berlin and at international exhibitions in Basel, Switzerland and Tokyo.
ベルリン拠点の写真家、Silvia Sinhaによる「Water Abstracts」シリーズでは、杉本博司の 海景と同じように、我々を「眺めの旅」に誘います。今回、Project Art Loungeが紹介する展示はSinhaの捉えた、常に変わり続ける都市風景の「光と流」というテーマです。 アーティスト自身が写真を「水面上に描くペインティング」のように捉え、都市風景をシンボルとして、陸封メトロポリスの活気を表す作品です。
Creative Lounge MOV aiiima 3
Project Art Lounge (www.projectartlounge.com)