I recently returned from Art Basel Miami and the impossible task of covering the mother ship of all shows plus 18 associated fairs, 51 exhibitions, 27 special events, and 44 art spaces. I tried my best to sample all spectrums of the art world from the contemporary artists with rock star status to those making a name for themselves mid-career and emerging artists. For one week each year, Miami Beach becomes the center of the universe in the art world with Art Basel as the big international draw.
The range of 20th and 21st century artworks blows the mind and stirs the soul. It’s a fabulous place to people watch in this mashup of celebrities, eccentrics, art collectors, art dealers and design cognoscenti. It’s also easy to suffer from sensory overload after walking through miles of neutral white exhibit space. Art is a very personal experience—what speaks to me can be quite the opposite of what speaks to you. Personally, I’m drawn to works that find beauty in the overlooked and discarded. In our throwaway culture, artists who repurpose the things we no longer want or need always intrigue me. Dare I say that in the U.S. there is an endless supply of refuse ripe for creative repurposing. Regardless of whether you view these works as social commentary, there is something very provocative about them—the ability to see beauty in the mundane and the sheer self-discipline and attention to detail to create them. Here’s a look at some of my favorite artists at Art Basel Miami doing amazing work with ordinary objects.
Designer Benjamin Rollins Caldwell caught Lady Gaga’s attention with his Binary Chair made of computer parts that later became an icon of Lady Gaga’s ArtPop album campaign.
Known as the RE-INVENTOR, Caldwell’s studio is a storehouse of old computers that he reincarnates into furniture. It all started when Caldwell came across of 11 pallets of old computers and thought what a shame to see all this refuse end up in a landfill. Instead, where others saw trash, Caldwell saw color, texture and structure that became the basis of his Binary Collection.
Just three weeks after creating an installation for Lady Gaga’s artRave party where Caldwell created an entire room from computer parts—the walls, flooring, furniture and rugs— the designer brought his Binary Collection to Design Miami. Industry Gallery out of Washington D.C presented the works of Benjamin Rollins Caldwell at Design Miami.
The living room suite features a Binary Sofa made of computer towers, a collage of motherboards and seat cushions made from computer ribbon cable.
A side chair is made of interwoven Ethernet cable and a collage of motherboards.
Caldwell says the wiring for the chair took three weeks to create. All pieces are one-of-a-kind and range in price from $600 to $25, 000.
Dettmer meticulously cuts and layers the text and images of books into sculpture. His juxtapositions communicate philosophical, economic or political agendas. Dettmer describes his technique: “After a book or series of books is sealed into a solid form,I cut into the surface, reading with my knife one page or layer at a time. Fragmented images, words and ideas emerge to expose and create new relationships within the book’s internal elements.”
What intrigues me about Dettmer’s work is this idea that the tangible book as we know it, is becoming obsolete in our technological and cultural shift towards electronic books. I think of Dettmer as a preservationist recording and cataloging this artifact for future generations in a way that encapsulates and comments on our current life and times. Dettmer’s work is in many private and public collections. It’s quite literally another way to “read” a book.
Indian designer Gunjan Gupta sources materials for everyday routines in her native New Delhi.
To create this limited edition chair, Gupta repurposed Indian food pots made of aluminum and brass. Gunjan Gupta’s work was presented by Erastudio Apartment-Gallery out of Milan.
The work of Aiko Hachisuka, a Japanese artist living in Los Angeles, relies on clothing as both canvas and moldable material to create sculptures of bounded fabric hand-stitched and silk-screen painted. This piece is called Untitled 2013 and was on exhibit at NADA (New Art Dealers Alliance) Miami Beach show by Eleven Rivington Gallery.
Tags: Aiko Hachisuka, Aqua Art Miami, Aqua Hotel, Art Basel, Art Basel Miami, Benjamin Rollins Caldwell, Binary Collection, Brian Dettmer, Design Blogger Karen LeBlanc, Eleven Rivington Gallery, Featured, Industry Gallery, Miami Art Week