What was that?
Going to Miami Art Basel this year was like taking part in a high school art club mixer but what was missing was the honest enthusiasm and excitement of youth. The real buyers and scene leaders were in and out the week before and what followed was an expanded version of "Party Girl"... shout out to Parker Posey for possessing a role that became a constant inspiration if not reflection of what Basel has become. This Basel was all about the selfie or an Instagram of self gratification to say " Yes, I am here and I am cooler than you." The art world, much like the fashion world, is filled with people who believe their taste level is something you should aspire to. I am guilty of preparing a few outfits that said "I am a step ahead and you will appreciate me in a few months or years when you catch up."
The pace in Miami was hectic and overrated. There were so many parties and promotions that standing in line became an excuse to strike a pose. The exasperated phone calls or texts going back and forth to explain one's location and busy schedule were so pompous that chasing down an event and walking up to a doorman or gate keeper to say "I am on the list" was ridiculous. Who cares? Having a chance to attend a performance or get bragging rights to a photo op overshadowed any enjoyment. There were literally conversations complaining that Pharrell's conga line was so not cool. Ok, I get it...you have more clout than me and are such a big thinker that I cannot even explain what art is or has become in a world where investments in art far outpace real estate or dotcoms.
There was art, there was fashion, there were caricatures (notice I didn't say characters) to meet on every corner. What there was not for me was a sense of wonder. There lacked a certain momentum of something new and fresh that has been turned into a corporate initiative much like Burning Man, Comic Con, JazzFest, Gay Pride, etc. I am not quite sure where the focus strayed but Miami Art Basel is a blur of traffic, lines for entry, and desperate attempts at attaining a decent meal without getting a shove in the back to move on because this Disney World attraction has a quota to meet.
In an effort to not sound elitist, everyone became more elite. A name drop here, an art reference there or quite possibly a golden ticket to a fabulous dinner became the goal. No one stopped and said " I do not know what I am doing here?" More often, there was an over glamorous description of a party you went to in a tile shop...yes, there were people referencing events celebrating bathroom tile.
I know sounding critical of this gathering or opportunity to enjoy temperatures in the 80's is easy pickings but let's call it out. This thing is a business boom for galleries, hotels, and other services in Miami; so keep the art rolling. However, for those who did not attend and are feeling they missed something; you are just fine and for those who did and had a great time "BASEL TOV!"