Miami Art Week 2019: Art Basel’s Monumental Meridians Sector

Curator Magalí Arriola's ode to large-scale artwork and even larger ideas

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On a second-floor “ballroom” at the sprawling Miami Beach Convention Center, set atop a carpet that’s fetching comments of its own, Art Basel Miami Beach‘s new Meridians sector features some of the most considered, engaging works found within all of 2019’s Miami Art Week. Not only are they, as the division stipulates, large-scale in format—they are larger than life conceptually. As expected, there are momentous sculptural and painted works, but, amidst it all, one also finds video installations of unparalleled depth and beauty that address gender, sexuality, race, immigration and more.

Altogether, there are 34 artworks on display. Many of these incorporate large internal components—be that the frozen figures within Tom Friedman‘s “Cocktail Party” (2015) or the repetition of form in Claude Viallat‘s 2009 work “2009/371.” While the video works all carry emotional power, no sculptural piece initiates as many sensations as Portia Munson‘s installation, “The Garden.” Having made its debut in 1996, this multi-part work returns to life in all its glory—complete with stuffed childhood toys, artificial flowers and explosive kitsch.

Remarkably, the entire 60,000-square-foot exhibition space feels manageable. It adequately houses pieces without overcrowding or allowing works to gobble up another. The gallery list is only rivaled in acclaimed by the artists represented—Theaster Gates, Wu Chi-Tsung, Barthélémy Toguo and Tina Girouard among them. To accompany the show, curator Magalí Arriola narrates an audio guide that’s free and online now—and provides insight necessary to steer, channel or address one’s visceral reactions.

Meridians is on now through 8 December at the Miami Beach Convention Center, with hours varying each day.

Images by David Graver