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Developments in Downtown Miami
by Amanda Sanfilippo

What is the promise of a vacant warehouse? The easily romanticized notion is being realized by a two-year, rent-free contract for a 20,000 sq ft complex in downtown Miami at the site of the former Capt. Harry’s Fishing Supply. Inaugurated September of 2012, the arrangement is a product of nearly a year of conversation and negotiations between the independent entities of Dimensions Variable (DV), Bas Fisher Invitational, Turn-based Press and the TM Sisters, all Miami-based artist collectives/initiatives at different stages in their development. Each will inhabit their own distinct chunk of the vast and multifarious space in blends of dedicated studio and exhibition/public programming space through a partnership with Miami’s Downtown Development Authority. The practical union of these four considerable entities downtown marks a shift, not only in the tides of real-estate considerations in Miami’s neighborhoods, but to the possibility of a critical mass of working artists seeking not only space, but the opportunity to provide platforms for programming beyond and as an extension to their own practices and in the pursuit of wider dialogues.

Downtown Arthouse; Courtesy of Dimensions Variable, photo by Amanda Sanfilippo.

One of the initiatives embodying this change as organizational framework is Dimensions Variable, formed in 2009 by artists Francis Trombly, Leyden Rodrigues Cassanova and Adler Guerrier. As such DV is a studio/project platform that is consistently infused with visiting artists to make exhibitions, mostly international, while programming Miami-based artists during the overexposed winter season. The projects present themselves and develop though conversation, leaps of faith, and a semi-porous relationship to the permanent studio practices of the founders close by.

For DV, exhibition becomes studio, studio becomes exhibition, and the two aspects are completely connected. By resisting a single identity, the studio aspect influences the exhibition and vice versa, developing with the growing associations and networks of artists who activate the exhibitions. Community-building is hand in hand with new frontiers of creative potentiality – entering influential dialogues where the projects that ultimately end up happening in the space are an extension of what the founders are interested in/making in their studios.

Downtown Arthouse; Courtesy of Dimensions Variable, photo by Amanda Sanfilippo.

The emergence and development of such hybrid initiatives illustrate the persistent habit towards the production of new work in contemporary art exhibition making. Among the many iterations of studio/residency/exhibition platforms, organizations such as Gasworks in London and FluxSpace in Philadelphia lean closer to the DV model of integration, where institutional programs such as the recent exhibition series Trading Places II at MoCA North Miami invites artists to trade their studios for galleries within the museum as a way to generate some of that process-based dialogic magic. The fundamental model of the experimental Kunsthalle, such as the KW in Berlin or Creative Time in New York, provide a space/site where new projects are mounted in a durational context, another important resolution of this thread.

Ultimately the responsibility shouldered upon such is considerable and deserves respect: where it requires much more from a collective or organization to remain porous, impressionable, and flexible – and thereby relevant. 


Amanda Sanfilippo


(All images: Downtown Arthouse; Courtesy of Dimensions Variable.)

Posted by Amanda Sanfilippo on 9/25/12 | tags: studios

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