Art

Marcel Katz Embraces Social Media Like No Other

Simone Sutnick

Marcel Katz
Marcel Katz

Marcel Katz knows people. With a penchant for marketing, social media and networking, and an eye for up-and-coming artists, the 31 year old wunderkind has made himself a career in the arts, partly through connections he forged in the nightlife industry. Among a number of endeavors, Katz runs The Art Plug, a Miami-based art and branding agency, and is the youngest licensed dealer of Salvador Dali’s paintings. Katz ventures into new territory during Art Basel Miami Beach, debuting a project of unprecedented proportions for his agency. The Art Plug Power House, which was initially conceived as an art fair, is an interactive space with installations and activations by more than 30 artists in a repurposed police impound in Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood.

Designed to appeal to the senses and to social media, The Art Plug Power House is a melting pot of ideas from contemporary artists. Among them are many digital and street artists with Instagram followings in the ten- and hundred-thousands range. “Everything is in one way or another going to promote you having your phone and taking a photo of it,” Katz gushes excitedly. While some might shy away from appealing so unabashedly to Instagram, he embraces it: “You have to be the best bullshitter, but it’s also a lot of intelligence and a lot of work that goes into it. It’s a good bullshit, not like in a negative way. I don’t know how else to explain it.”

The police impound where The Art Plug Powerhouse is taking over December 7-8.

Katz speaks candidly about using platforms like Instagram as the tools they have become. It reveals a sort of refreshing self-awareness about his, for lack of a better word, exploitation of social media. “Everything you do you are marketing yourself. You’re marketing whatever it is you stand for, your vision—it’s like public speaking without having to be in public.” And he certainly knows how to make a statement; peppering the city are billboards and a fleet of Lyft cars sporting artwork by CB Hoyo and Aholsniffsglue on the roads. You may have also noticed a truck toting a map of the installation and a camouflage Hummer parading around Wynwood—all to promote the project.

With so many different moving parts, one thing remains constant at the core of it all: Katz himself. Not one to mince words, he proudly identifies himself as, “the mastermind behind the whole project.” Katz is essentially putting his money where his mouth is with this project, pulling connections from his vast network and years of experience. “You can’t teach what I know,” he says. “I have people that helped me make it happen, but I see something and I’m able to put things together through my network that most people would never be able to.”

CB Hoyo’s The Art Dealer Told Me This Fake Rothko Would Make Me Feel Rich, 2016

Underneath the marketing savvy and high energy, there’s an honest desire to create an art experience that is—to put it simply—fun. “I want you and your friends to want to run around and explore,” he says, “I want it to be like a playground. I want you to go back to when you were a kid.” The Art Plug Power House is a playground for the artists, too. Take for example Maximum Exposure, an installation of cars covered in Aholsniffsglue’s signature graffiti, destined to be crushed by a monster truck. How exactly is this art? Katz’s explanation is almost Dadaist, touching on an anti-art sentiment: “It’s a performance. We are crushing these art cars, basically saying ‘let’s do something different and accept the not-normal.’ It’s like a giant fuck you to everyone else.”

Unapologetically built for the age of social media, The Art Plug Power House is a hub for the unexpected. From a rideable mechanical unicorn to a pizza party with viral Instagram artist Ketnipz, it’s more than the typical art activation. But don’t let the glitz fool you—Katz is surely onto something. Get a sneak peek of the action below and experience it for yourself December 7–8.