Loud art in Miami

MIAMI, FL: Hollywood, star artists and the hawtest new painters collide as Ryan McGinley, Harmony Korine and James Franco hang next to laserjet paintings of new worlds and orgasmic yelps

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Amanda Ross-Ho, 'Negative Earth'

It Ain’t Fair - the satellite art fair put together by the OHWOW gallery during Art Basel Miami Beach – is a boundless, multimedia spectacle of works by young artists emerging and renowned. IAF has prided itself as a manifest zeitgeist of contemporary art and this year, it did, though with obvious limits and an emphasis on spectacle. With a giant roster of celebrated artists, IAF 2012 managed to put on an explosive yet uncluttered show that spanned themes, genres and mediums without feeling flung together. Ebullience collided with depravity; humble gestures neighbored celebrity self-commentary.

For the fifth and final installment of the group exhibition, the show was moved to the beachside from its previous mainland locations of Wynwood and the Design District. Named after its original location, the “Our House West of Wynwood” gallery and publishing house was founded by Al Moran and Aaron Bondaroff. Though their permanent space relocated to Los Angeles in 2011, OHWOW still triangulates the Miami – New York – LA art nexus through events, initiatives and retail stores. IAF 2012 signaled its final ABMB fair with a who’s-who of the American (coastal) art scene.

Walking into the foyer of the space, one was met by a suspended cylinder of pink umbrellas, heart baskets and various other ephemera held together by string and bungee cords. The piece by Agathe Snow precipitated the material and thematic mélange of the show. Upon entering the main room, a heavy, indiscernible panting filled the ears.

Works by the well-known lived next to the even-better-known: a photo of a rainbow haired woman by Terry Richardson, a schizoid painting of altered VHS tapes by Harmony Korine, director of Kids and Trash Humpers. The works by veritable stars (James Franco, the movie star and stoner artthrob, also had several pieces featured) were displayed amongst some of the biggest names in art proper. The Miami native and eternally insubordinate Bert Rodriguez had a black-and-white print of himself posing as a Hitlerian dictator; Still House resident Lucien Smith’s collagist painting appeared to have been pied by an abstractionist clown. Many of the works were playful and poked fun at themselves and the artist while others were self-serious but in the context of the show, were revealed as objects meant to be enjoyed.

Moving throughout and accepting all of the associations that come with celebrities making art and artists making art, the show was colored by the mysterious, aforementioned hyperventilating. It wasn’t until you made it to Kim Ye’s installation that you knew what the sound was. Set up in the corner of the room, visitors could sit on a wooden platform and look up to find a video of the artist’s face contorting in carnal pleasure. At once arousing and disturbing, the forced voyeurism of Ye’s work felt invasive but tasteful since it only revealed her face, forcing the viewer to consider the (always and clichéd) lines between life and art. The fifth and final It Ain’t Fair literally climaxed with a show that brought together artists we’d only care about for their star appeal – whose pieces still managed to incite an intrigue that’ll (hopefully) outlive their celebrity – and those whose celebrity has been fostered by the work itself. 

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