Desi Santiago, Creator of Lords South Beach's Giant Dog Installation, Talks Art Basel, Florida's Art Scene, and His Furry Muse
There aren't many people who could pull off a Transformers-style switcharoo of a South Beach hotel into a big, black dog. But avant-garde artist Desi Santiago is about to do just that for this year's Art Basel extravaganza.
Via Desi Santiago's Facebook page
The New York-based artist recently finished a run with the Louis Vuitton Marc Jacobs exhibition in Paris, and his next big work of art is Gypsy, the Godzilla-sized black dog taking over Lords South Beach for Basel. Inspired in part by his own real-life pooch, the piece, titled Perrier® Presents: The Black Lords at South Beach, will tell fortunes and serve as a landmark exhibition for art enthusiasts.
Cultist spoke to Santiago on his inspiration, his furry muse and his impressions of Miami's art scene.
Cultist: Tell me a little bit about your evolution as an artist.
Santiago: I came to New York when I was 17. I was part of the whole club culture in the early '90s and the whole club kid thing. I was dressing up, creating new identities and personas. All my work was basically done with my body at that time. I used a lot of costumes and prosthetics, body modification. It evolved into where I started externalizing it. I was doing a lot of jewelry work, so it originally started [with] collaborating with a fashion group who was inspired by my performance and costumes. So then I transferred that over to a model, to someone else's body. Then I did art direction for nightclubs where I used to party and went more into the backside of it. I started playing with the spaces where people partied and carried on and all that. Then it just kept flip flopping back and forth between fashion and nightlife and galleries.
I was always interested in both the details of doing intimacy and atmosphere and sort of the full consumption of the space. Overall I've always been interested in intimate gestures or broad gestures.