Miami Art Week 2022: Art Basel Miami Beach’s Meridians Sector

20 powerful large-scale projects, from painting to sculpture and performance

For the 20th anniversary of Art Basel Miami Beach, the thought-provoking, powerful Meridians sector—composed of 20 large-scale artworks—returns for an inspiring third iteration. With performance pieces positioned alongside towering sculptures, subversive monuments, colorful reprieves and playful presentations, Meridians acts as a distillate of the international art world and a channel for the community’s pressing themes. It’s not only a highlight of the acclaimed fair, but of the entire Miami Art Week 2022.

Magalí Arriola, the director of Mexico City’s Museo Tamayo, returns as the curator behind the diverse display. Meridians “brings together the work of historical artists and groundbreaking feminists, major representatives of Latin American art, along with a younger generation of artists whose practices are giving visibility to obscured and marginalized voices,” Arriola said in her opening address at Art Basel this year.

Arriola says that some of the artists explore “the way in which we, as spectators, engage in the social and political urgencies of our times.” This is evident in many of the paintings and sculptures, but perhaps most electric in two performance works. In “Silla” (2011), Colombian artist María José Arjona addresses the role the body plays in political choreography by occupying a chair—for six hours each day—that’s suspended sideways from the ceiling. American performance artist rafa esparza portrays a lowrider cyborg turned coin-operated ride machine in “Corpo Ranfla 2.0” (2022), a clever collision of cultural messaging.

Other works range from Cauleen Smith’s mixed-media installation “SPACE STATION: A Rock in a River” (2018-22), with shimmering disco balls and accompanying films, to the protest poster-influenced “Columbus Day” (2019-20) by Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds (of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nation) and Jonathas de Andrade’s “Lost and Found [Achados e Periods]” (2020-22), which features 25 burnt clay sculptures dressed in forgotten bathing suits the artist collected from swimming clubs in Recife, Brazil. Though some inclusions are more bombastic than others, even the more subtle works contribute to a sense of reflection and the search for new perspectives.

“Sculpted bodies, sexualized bodies, performing and singing bodies, brown, Black and white bodies, all come together to put into perspective concepts of beauty, feminism,” and more, Arriola adds. In the sector, works address gender and race, colonialism and cultural extraction, mechanized jobs and the lack of work. There’s even an imagined monument to the year 2020 by Devan Shimoyama. Though only a small sliver of the extensive art fair, Meridians is a staggering representation of artists and ideas.

Meridians is hosted in the north wing of the Miami Beach Convention Center. Art Basel runs through 3 December.

Images by David Graver