Miami Art Week 2021 : The Basel Breakdown

Carl Rachelson, Miami's Community News, December 8, 2021

It’s all over. Art Basel Miami is an international treasure, but the Circus has left town. Business makes the world go round, but it is strange. Are the best jobs in the world really crypto and highway construction? Similarly, galleries game systems like double parkers and Amazon trucks hog the bike lane. Yet unlike an anti-vaxxer, I really did some research. After four and a half solid days examining the Arts, here are some winners and losers.


Michael C. Thorpe (photo by C. Rachelson)



Winners and Good Things:

Art Miami’s Context and UNTITLED have noteworthy galleries and outstanding work. SCOPE does as well, though the corporate presence is increasingly cloying. PINTA, though small, is valuable. Design Miami remains a gateway to originality.

Untitled and Art Miami checked vaccination; lots of people were unmasked inside. Design didn’t check; most wore masks. Go figure.

Covid grew darker with Omicron introducing itself to the world; artists and galleries responded with brighter color.

Banksy and NCAA football coaches have lucrative positions; Miami road construction workers have the best cradle to grave job ever invented.

The NFT and Crypto hustle is in full battle array.


Standout galleries and people: Galerie LeRoyer, Tokyo International Gallery, Bode Projects, LaiSun Keane, The Contemporary Art Modern Project, De Buck, Lisa Ashinoff, Katherine Siboni from MARTOS, EMBAJADA + KM 0.2, THE HOLE LA, Huxley-Parlour, and Gallery Grimson. 


Gallery best expressing cool: Eden Airlines by far.

SCOPE Entrance (photo by C. Rachelson)


Artists and Works: Michael C. Thorpe’s quilts, Idris Habib’s Maduka, Zak Ové, Chang Min Lim’s Autumn in Palace, Kadir Akyol’s Julie Christie, Stikki Peaches’ Jean Shrimpton, t.w.five’s Light and Bright, Yasushi Ikejiri’s Building #19, Christina Nicodema, Lisa Ashinoff’s Birchwood, Jan Kalab’s Dusk Medusa.


Celebrities: Like an addiction, we follow DiCaprio, Sean Penn, Venus, Serena, and Bieber. B listers and influencers are wannabes. DJ Khaled coating chicken wings in 24k gold and edible diamonds is not the best environmental message.


It’s Complicated BUT Good for Business: Galleries showing their disgust with racism, especially because THIS year, black subjects PARTICULARLY matter, and Black galleries hoping buyers are disgusted with racism because particularly THIS year, Black subjects matter. 


Losers and Bad Things:

Surgical puppetry is most at home at Art Miami. Sorry. 

Paper mache dogs.

Frigid Scope as cold as the Metrorail. 

Opportunistic opportunists hustling; daylight drinkers because it’s free; marketeers marketing to their markets.

Tasteless C List celebrities.

Cultural appropriation.

Severely limited Asian subjects. Will we ever see subjects from Indonesia, Philippines, Chile, or Hawaii any more? Are my fellow liberal, Dutch, and Parisian galleries only guilty about sub-Saharan Africans? Do Afghani, Iraqi, and Yemeni lives matter?

ZERO Chinese galleries. 


Lastly, despite all the good, burying this cynicism in a late paragraph seems relevant: if you have a pop-up vodka restaurant group, someone will introduce a curator to host an instagrammable fashion show with an imminent focus on the Latin diaspora or Black subjects with an international DJ-producer and multi-instrumentalist.