It’s a place of opposition—natural and artificial, serene and anxious. This is the latest Artsy Projects, the continuation of a programming series that’s occupied everywhere from Brussels to San Francisco, and now opening its doors to the public in Miami for Art Week. Each location and installation addresses concepts at play in the world of art. Last year, curator Elena Soboleva tackled augmented reality, through Rachel Rossin-imagined projections in a dome on the beach. Rossin introduced Soboleva to one of this year’s artists, CH favorite Jillian Mayer. Now, with Samara Golden, Maria Nepomuceno, performance art collective FlucT and Devonté Hynes, the Miami exhibition opens as a sculptural wonderland in one of Miami’s iconic locations, the Bath Club. It’s an immersive universe, curated with an organic precision that only an organization like Artsy could deliver. And with Mayer’s “Slumpies” about, there’s nothing else quite like it.
Bath Club might not be the most obvious choice of locations, but hosting there is a decision that mirrors Art Week as a whole—and every other event-filled, thematic week. “There’s never been art events here to our knowledge,” Soboleva explains to CH. “It appealed to us. It’s not a hotel or a space people would be going to for any other reason than to see art.” It also matched their motivation in creating a space of immersive installations—one in which an artist, or several artists, could take over. “This used to be a place where families from all around Miami would come on Sundays to bathe in the water. Now it’s for weddings and it’s a residence. All of this aligned with our goals, and what we wanted to be able to give the artists,” she says.
“As a Florida native, I wanted to invite the public into my garden where I make my large-scale ‘Slumpie’ sculptures,” Mayer shares with us. “With Artsy, I have created a space where these post-posture sculptures are in the midst of quasi-natural surroundings, inviting visitors to relax and to communicate with friends and business contacts that are not directly in front of them.” Regarding “quasi-natural,” she means the venue’s “contained and manicured idea of nature.” For anyone unfamiliar with Mayer’s “Slumpies,” they’re large-scale works that encourage onlookers to rest—in a way that emphasizes the way they hold and look at their phones. Clearly a commentary on our mobile- and social-media-obsessed lifestyles, they’re also simply whimsical. It’s so rare for an artist to encourage viewers to touch, and this is calming in its own right. It’s a sensation that coexists well with the sculptures’ actual messaging, which toys with alleviating the pressure of social media or committing to one’s digital life comfortably.
Soboleva says the basis for Artsy Projects Miami developed out of her familiarity with Mayer’s “Slumpie” series. “It also became about where we could take this series, relating to this show. We really wanted to play with the idea of tension that people are feeling—digital life and human interaction and the tension of conflict,” she adds. Further, Soboleva encouraged Mayer to go even further with install. “She picked up the challenge of installation making, guiding this to an even more immersive experience. There are hanging elements, and some on the ground.” While the Hynes performance, and a Gucci party, will be closed doors, this pop-up is one the public can and should enter if they’re in town for Art Week.
Artsy Projects is open to the public on Thursday, 7 December, from 12PM to 6:30PM at the Bath Club in Miami, 5937 Collins Ave.
Images by Cool Hunting