Art Basel 2013: A Local Perspective From Inside the Convention Center
A few weeks before Art Basel's arrival, I noticed Vice's infamous "I Don't 'Get' Art" article being shared on Facebook. In the piece, Glen Coco (best pen name ever, by the way, and probably written by West Coast editor Jamie Taete) admits he cannot grasp what contemporary artists are trying to say these days.
Photo by George Martinez Joke's on you, Barbara Kruger.
Coco followed this up by attending Art Basel last year. Unfortunately, that didn't help remedy the situation.
Wandering through the maze of booths at the Miami Beach Convention Center, I totally get why contemporary art can frustrate people. A lot of it looks like it was slapped together without any thought or meaning. And when artists try to go for shock value (enough with the genitals, sex toys, etc.; I've seen plenty) it comes off as trying too hard to get a reaction out of the viewer.
Yes, I will say it here: A lot of the stuff on display at most art fairs, including Basel, isn't worth a dime. Buying art is less like stock trading and more like high-stakes gambling. You are putting money on something hoping that eventually the artist will generate enough "buzz" to raise the value of the piece. Unfortunately, the art world is plagued by people who are paid to generate "buzz," which makes the process a bit disingenuous. Talent doesn't always have to be there in order for "buzz" to be created.
Photo by George Martinez This says, "I'm edgy because I used the word 'motherfucker.'"
That doesn't mean I don't believe in the work a lot of contemporary artists are doing. I do. I'd just wish the process of recognizing artists involved more academic study and discussion and fewer Russian oligarchs and people who want something pretty to hang in their Brickell condos. (And I know I'm totally contradicting myself. I understand that it's these kind of people who keep galleries and their artists afloat. But a boy can dream.)
So with that long-winded intro done, now I will tell you what I saw.