Is Bigger Better? Art Basel Miami Beach Tests the Waters with Meridians

Art Basel Miami Beach 2019, Meridians, Woody De Othello, Karma, Jessica Silverman Gallery.
Art Basel Miami Beach 2019, Meridians, Woody De Othello, Karma, Jessica Silverman Gallery.

What was the impetus for starting Meridians and what kinds of work will be shown? The goal was to open up the possibility of showing large-scale projects that wouldn’t fit in a conventional art fair booth; Meridians includes works that range from painting, sculpture and installation to video and performance, and in some cases these offer a much more immersive experience than one typically finds at a fair. These proposals also range from historical pieces to more recent works, some of which have been produced specifically for this inaugural iteration of the sector.

What themes or objectives does ABMB seek to highlight this year? The works in Meridians were chosen by the Selection Committee for Art Basel Miami Beach; I was responsible for curating how the selected works are presented. Though I cannot speak for the committee’s interests, there was, in general terms, a strong inclination to achieve a certain balance in the diversity of the works included. I also think there is a natural inclination towards pressing themes such as race, gender, migration and territory—certainly not a coincidence, as these topics are very much in the air.

Art Basel Miami Beach 2019, Meridians, Tina Girouard, Anat Ebgi.

It has been observed that the platform of the art fair has shifted the way some art is made, as artists must now accommodate the booth as both a physical space and a transactional context. Do you think Meridians will counteract this? My hope is that Meridians can operate in exactly the opposite way. One of the most exciting things about the Ballroom—a 6,000-square-meter, column-free space—is that it is flexible enough to be adjusted to the specific requirements of each of the works.

As the first curator of the first iteration, what are your goals? I hope that this new sector will help give more weight to certain artistic proposals and offer a more expansive and complete view of artists’ practices, as well as the sociopolitical themes and topics that many are addressing.

What are some of the projects that you are most excited about? Meridians contains a wide range of interesting projects from artists of different generations and it would be difficult to mention all of them. Isaac Julien, Alexis Smith, Tina Girouard, Portia Munson, Miguel Calderón and Candice Lin are among the many names that I am excited about and hope will garner attention.