Top 5 Picks at Art Basel Miami Beach 2018

Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami Art Week, African art, Middle Eastern Art, Sfeir Semler, Wael Shawky, Sabrina Amrani, Goodman Gallery, Abraham Cruzvillegas

Shirin NeshatSoliloquy Series, 1999Gelatin silver printWork: 106.7 x 203.2 cm.AP 2/2 from edition of 5

Miami Art and Design Week kicks off this week with 20 fairs peppered across the city, but its flagship event, Art Basel Miami Beach, opens on the 6th for its 17th edition with 250 leading international galleries. Here are our top 5 picks of must-see events, artworks and installations

Zina Saro-Wiwa’s Table Manners at Tiwani Contemporary, London, in the Nova Sector
Exploring the political implications of food-oriented communities, Brooklyn-based Nigerian artist Zina Saro-Wiwa’s multi-channel video series Table Manners (2014-16) investigates the performative side of eating as essential to the sense of belonging in West Africa. Depicting Ogoni men and women from the Niger Delta as they eat in their own natural ways, Saro-Wiwa’s focus on colonialism and racism show through the videos’ emphasis on race, food, power and capital. The series presents food consumption as a collective act of memory, reinforcement of tradition, and indicator of communal and diasporic values as much as contemporary political and socio-economic struggles. By showing people engaging in the simple but visceral act of feeding themselves, her work emphasises tension between art and politics but initiates a productive, informative outcome rather than the commodification of food, food cultures and people.

Abraham Cruzvillegas. Autorreconstruccion - To Insist, to insist, to insist. Performers: Barbara Foules and Andres Garcia Nestitla (not pictured). 5-7 April 2018 at The Kitchen. Image courtesy of The Kitchen, New York. Copyright Paula Court.

Abraham Cruzvillegas’ Autorreconstrucción: To Insist, to Insist, to Insist… Live Performance
Art Basel Miami Beach may have done away with its public sculpture and film programmes, but it will introduce an ambitious performance sector by ways of collaborating with New York’s The Kitchen for its inauguration. A refreshed version of the multidisciplinary performance work by Mexican conceptual artist Abraham Cruzvillegas, Autorreconstrucción: To Insist, to Insist, to Insist… will run twice daily during the fair in the new convention centre’s 60,000-square-foot ballroom – which fair director Noah Horowitz is happy to share now properly accommodates live performance. The 20-minute free performance will feature a large-scale dangling assemblage of scrap materials recalling the impoverished dwellings located in some of Mexico City’s neighbourhoods, with dancer and choreographer Bárbara Foulkes attached to the assemblage via a strap moving to musical compositions led by Andrés García Nestitla.

Art Basel

Zina Saro-Wiwa. Table Manners. 2014-16. 8 digital videos, 5-11 minutes each

South African art gallery, Goodman Gallery, which participates in all three of Art Basel’s international outposts, continues its efforts to shift consciousness and shape contemporary South African art by exhibiting artists that challenge power structures and reflect on colonial legacies and geopolitics. This year, as part of its research-oriented group showcases, it will exhibit several African artists including El Anatsui, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Kudzanai Chiurai, William Kentridge, Tabita Rezaire, Samson Kambalu, Gerald Machona and Gerhard Marx.  Works by artists Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Alfredo Jaar, Shirin Neshat and Hank Willis Thomas will also be shown to further form a cohesive presentation that fits into the gallery’s commitment to furthering a social progressiveness.

Chant Avedissian. Squares. 1984. Hand-dyed cotton. 230 x 410 cm. Image courtesy of Sabrina Amrani

Sabrina Amrani, Madrid, Booth S8 in the Survey Sector
Textile Panel Patterns, a solo exhibition of Egyptian artist Chant Avedissian will mark the Spanish gallery’s presence in the Survey sector, dedicated to historical projects. Showcasing textile works made between 1980 and 1990 that reference the artist’s inspiration from Islamic geometry, calligraphy and non-figuration, the works also acknowledge Avedissian’s awareness of Western, specifically Constructivist, tropes. However, Avedissian’s body of work avoids the ‘Western colonialisation’ of his ‘Eastern’ techniques, and while his pieces embody the push-and-pull tension of the two artistic worlds which exhibit distinct traces of Modernism and Abstraction within the ‘Oriental’ works, Avedissian’s canvases adopt a purified take, focusing on patterning and historical motifs to produce movement, unity and harmony.

Wael Shawky. Still from Al Araba El Madfuna I. 2012. Image courtesy of Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut/Hamburg

Wael Shawky at Sfeir-Semler, Beirut/Hamburg, at the Kabinett Sector
Egyptian artist Wael Shawky’s widely museum-exhibited film trilogy Al Araba Al Madfuna (2012-16) will be dissected in Sfeir-Semler’s presentation at Kabinett at this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach. Kabinett, wherein galleries delineate a section of their individual booths for a special curated exhibition by an artist of choice, typically veers towards art historical showcases or as a platform for rising stars. Shawky, an award winning artist whose accolades include the Mario Merz Prize (2017), Sharjah Biennial Award (2013), Kino der Kunst, Munich (2013), and Grand Prize at the 25th Alexandria Biennale (2009), amongst others, has an oeuvre that focuses on real and fictional histories of the Arab world. Manifested through a unique mix of film, sculpture, puppetry and drawing, his practice explores cinematic practice, historical narrative, sociological interpretation and fictional writing constructs with equal parts drama and imaginative intrigue.

Art Basel Miami Beach runs 6-9 December at Miami Beach Convention Center. Artbasel.com/Miami-beach

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Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami Art Week, African art, Middle Eastern Art, Sfeir Semler, Wael Shawky, Sabrina Amrani, Goodman Gallery, Abraham Cruzvillegas

Shirin NeshatSoliloquy Series, 1999Gelatin silver printWork: 106.7 x 203.2 cm.AP 2/2 from edition of 5