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The Future Perfect’s presentation at Design Miami/, 2022.
Photo: Joseph Kramm; Courtesy The artists and The Future Perfect

A Look Back at the Standout Moments from Miami Art Week 2022

From finding new favorites at Art Basel Miami Beach to an unexpected performance by rafa esparza

Each December, Art Basel returns to Miami Beach with a consistent formula. This includes a reliably formidable roster of a few hundred galleries and international collectors; parties; brand collaborations; and terrible traffic. And somehow, year after year, this combination of predictable ingredients still manages to yield unpredictable results, often in the form of new discoveries, acquaintances, and situations that could only happen when the art world collides with Miami. Below, a list pleasant surprises from the most recent edition of Art Basel Miami Beach. 

Jeff Koons, Bowl With Eggs, (1994-2009) at White Cube. Photo: Janelle Zara

Finding New Favorites

Even in a crowded field of more than 280 exhibitors at the main Art Basel Miami Beach Fair, certain works always manage to grab your attention. On the splashier end, there was Jeff Koons’ giant bowl of eggs, aptly titled Bowl With Eggs (1994-2009) at White Cube; Guillaume Bijl’s fully active blackjack and roulette tables at Meredith Rosen; and at Perrotin, MSCHF’s ATM that displayed your picture alongside the contents of your bank account. My personal favorites, however, were decidedly more subdued, like the brand new Cecily Brown in Paula Cooper’s booth. For decades, the artist has been gently teasing figures out of the swirling ether of her canvas, and in Ladybird Nudes (2022), the figures finally emerge fully formed, albeit with facial features deformed by abstraction. Also new to me was a series of haunting, but also humorous ’90s sculptures of shoes and teeth by the extremely underrated Rona Pondick. A dealer in the Steven Zevitas booth described her practice as parallel to Robert Goeber’s, only without the proper recognition.

Artists Karla Canseco and Gabriela Ruiz assist rafa esparza for his Art Basel Miami Beach performance. Photo: Janelle Zara

An Impromptu Performance 

On Tuesday, my friend, the L.A. artist Lupe Rosales, called me with an unusual question: “Do you want to ride rafa?” She meant the artist rafa esparza, who had a performance scheduled as part of Art Basel’s official program. In front of a small crowd, he would insert himself into a kinetic outdoor sculpture shaped like a gold and DayGlo-green motorcycle, effectively transforming himself into a “low-rider cyborg“ that friends and family were invited to ride. Titled Corpo RanfLA: Terra Cruiser (2022), the performance hints at cruising as a double-entendre; collective memory; and other references so specific to queer Chicano culture that they would take some time to unpack. My fellow riders included L.A. artists Gabriela Ruiz, Karla Canseco, Victor Barragán, and Rosales, all of whom had helped bring the piece together. As we each rode for one minute, esparza turned his golden front wheel, and his voice played softly through a pair of wireless headphones, recounting a story of creation and the passage of time. It was an intimate experience that felt historic, deeply moving, and definitive of a futurism uniquely shaped by East L.A.

The Future Perfect’s presentation at Design Miami/, 2022. Photo: Joseph Kramm; Courtesy The artists and The Future Perfect

A Vibe Shift in Collectible Design 

Is Design Miami/ the strongest fair of the week? As an antidote to the monotony of plain white art fair aisles, its booths of singular, collectible furniture offered colorful, texturally rich, fully saturated narratives (although you’re not allowed to sit on anything). The work delivers wild materials and gestures while maintaining exceptional production quality, like The Future Perfect’s inviting vignette of dramatically shaggy wool carpet by Claudy Jongstra paired with a Chris Wolston bronze coffee table and plush boucle-and-aluminum club chairs. Also excellent was Johannesburg gallery Southern Guild’s selection of African designers creating surreal, luxurious ceramics, lamps, and seating that fuse folklore with science fiction.

Art Basel Miami 2022. Photo: Courtesy Art Basel

Venus Williams: Even More Beautiful in Real Life 

The ideal night out in Miami unfolds in stages—the pre-dinner cocktail, dinner, the after-party, the labyrinthine nightclub Twist, then a late-night sandwich. Tuesday evening started Vogue Mexico’s reception at the opulent Setai to announce the Maestro Dobel Latinx Art Prize, the tequila maker’s new annual $50,000 grant that culminates in a solo exhibition at El Museo del Barrio in New York. The mood escalated at Carbone, which Hauser & Wirth took over to celebrate Henry Taylor’s solo show at LA MOCA. Picture the artist chatting with statuesque Venus Williams in a crowded Old Hollywood dining room. The waiters are passing little plates of their coveted spicy rigatoni, and suddenly a Jonas Brother walks by. After a stop at Pace’s basement karaoke party, where former Art Basel director Marc Spiegler took a turn on the mic, the night ended at the faithful standby a La Sandwicherie, arguably the only place in Miami where you know exactly what you’re going to get.

Cover: The Future Perfect’s presentation at Design Miami/, 2022.
Photo: Joseph Kramm; Courtesy The artists and The Future Perfect

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