ALTERNATIVE MOONS: Experiences on the Outer Fringe
by Natalie Hegert
Imagine Art Basel Miami Beach is a planet. It is after all, the big centralizing force to which all other early December Miami fairs, events, and exhibitions compare themselves. Those are usually referred to as satellite fairs: orbiting moons. Some of these moons are quite large, and orbit in close proximity to the Basel planet, while others are mere specks out on the fringe. Some of these moons have quite erratic, elliptical orbits, spinning in all different directions. These moons—their atmosphere, geography, constituents, demographics—are quite different from the Basel planet, and in fact they thrive off their alterity.
Browsing the press releases and websites of these “others,” I couldn’t help but notice the recurrence of the word “alternative.” UNTITLED. offers “an alternative viewing experience from the traditional art fair”; Fountain Art Fair espouses its “uniquely alternative art fair model”; SEVEN looks “beyond the art fair model”; and It Ain’t Fair offers “an alternate experience to the dozens of December art fairs in Miami,” just to name a few examples. So what are the differing planes of “alternativeness” out on the fringes of Planet Basel’s outer reaches? Which characteristics of Planet Basel do these other fairs and exhibitions resist? Does it have to do with the work on display? The layout? The atmosphere? The salesmanship? The location?
Mia DiMeo explores Miami's private collections
Switzerland’s Art Basel instated its sister show in Miami Beach in 2002 for its obvious merits-- seasonless sunshine and a prime location as the “Gateway to the Americas"--but the bulging week of fairs, parties and art events that now surrounds Art Basel Miami Beach owes much to a community of ambitious private collectors and their publicly available exhibition spaces that have shaped the city into a contemporary art capital. This new type of cultural institution that has sprung up in the last few decades is the so-called “Miami model,” where rotating, curated shows of private collections exist without any collaboration with public museums. These dedicated spaces for engaging public interest in contemporary art sends a very clear message, to me, that these collectors think of art as much more than investments, decorations or vanity purchases.
Like any proper art tourist (and a Miami virgin), on my visit this week I will split my time between two dozen or so fairs, but while in Basel madness mode, I am set on also making it to some of the city’s incredible private collections...