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Art Basel Miami: Scope Takes Things Outside

by Margery Gordon
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MIAMI, Dec. 8, 2006—For its fifth fair in Miami, Scope has made some dramatic and ambitious changes, moving from a boutique hotel on the beach to a spacious temporary structure in Wynwood. The 40,000-square-foot pavilion in Roberto Clemente Park was constructed from shipping containers and tents and designed by Scope founder and president Alexis Hubshman, architect Charles Mallea and Alain Perez of venue design firm Event Star.

Visitors enter through an outsize urban garden by Agustina Woodgate, while a disembodied sound installation by Derek Coté and John Henry Blatter intones advisories, such as “Attention: Objects on display are more valuable than they appear,” in a self-satirizing take on K-mart’s “Blue Light Special” announcements.

Just inside is a more ominous analogy for the art fair: the Chilean artist Tomás Rivas has carved the outlines of a Roman temple in peeling wallpaper and drywall on a semicircular façade. Smaller works by Rivas, who splits his time between Santiago and Washington, D.C., were on sale for $6,000-$7,500 at the booth of the Bethesda, Maryland-based Douz and Mille.

Rivas’ classical aesthetic provided a fitting backdrop to a performance by Andrea Cote in which the New York-based artist blended her body with the “ground” of a dress that stretched into a square canvas on the floor. With her face and garment painted with black lines made from hair, Cote’s meditative movements and constructed environment slowed down the hectic pace of the fair.

The broad aisles and high ceilings also lent an airy counterpoint to the humming energy at opening night on Thursday. “It’s definitely different from Art Basel,” said Rivas, who “loved the experience” of showing at the Scope London fair this October. “People appreciate the fresh work and really come to see new things.”

Innovative media works stood out among the 90 exhibitors from 14 countries. Shirley Shor’s Terra Firma projects a mesmerizing animated grid on the peaks and valleys of a sandbox set inside a dark chamber at Moti Hassan’s booth. Before the “Culture on the Verge” post-preview celebration began later Thursday night, the New York gallerist had already sold two of the three editions (the third is $18,000).

First-time Scope exhibitor Rolf Goellnitz, who opened OMC Gallery for Contemporary Art in Huntington Beach, Calif., after relocating from Dusseldorf, said the fair’s request for thematic or solo exhibits “makes sense if you want to promote young artists.”

The strategy was working for OMC’s series of richly colored photographs by the San Francisco-based artist Brooke Lydecker. Collectors snatched up 10 of her portraits of 25- to 80-year-old burlesque dancers competing for the Miss Exotic World crown, at $1,100 each. They also went for the romantic women of her “Myths & Tales” series and “Nostalgia’s” vintage cars—shot from the tires up with a 4-by-5 color Polaroid pinhole camera.

At Galerie Baer, Martina Wolf investigated altered perspectives with Group of Houses, a mysterious photograph shot through a painted windowpane, and a video projection showing black blinds slowly raising and lowering beside a cityscape. The gallery’s architectural theme continued with Theo Boettger’s installation of smaller works against a another cityscape, this one painted on the wall, and Jan Brokof’s intricate woodcut House with Factory, which was inspired by the “shrinking cities” of East Germany in the aftermath of Socialism.

Daneyal Mahmood described the concept for his booth as “classical subversion: talking about Classicism as an empirical construct and subversion as a social construct,” which meant provocative works, including violently sexual photographs that Ukrainian artist Arsen Savadov staged at Kiev slaughterhouses (in editions of seven at $10,000 each).

Also in Mahmood’s booth, Andrei Molodkin’s large, realistic drawing in ballpoint pen on linen of two soldiers kissing, God is Great, was impossible to miss—and sold for $35,000. The Russian artist’s current solo show, “Empire at War,” at the just-opened New York gallery is named after its centerpiece, a 12-foot-by-9-foot drawing of President George W. Bush preaching ($50,000).

Photography in a range of formats and prices was one of the strengths of this year’s Scope fair. Angelo Musco’s small but eye-catching photographs of pregnant women—surrounded by nudes and set against digitally treated backgrounds—were installed in a honeycomb pattern at Agró/Glickman Step (1). Contrary to typical photo editions, the individual images decline in price with the number purchased and were available for $500 apiece at this writing.

Pregnant women also star in Parthenogenesis, a performance Musco is staging Friday night at the Nikki Beach club at the base of Ocean Drive. Private dealer and curator Rena Glickman said the months Musco spent in the womb informed his exploration of “women’s bodies as a container for life.”

One could argue the same about the shipping containers that frame Scope’s new Miami home. The once hotel-bound fair, too, has grown and emerged renewed.

 

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