The performance featured in Tuesday's opening night celebration for Mana Contemporary in Wynwood and the Pinta Latin American art fair was highly pedigreed: renowned violinist Julian Rachlin, performing Mozart's Concerto No. 5 in A Major with the PhilarMIA orchestra, accompanied by the adroit and charismatic Spanish dancer Jesus Pastor. And though the performance was called "Viola Meets Mozart," the Bill Viola video work "Inverted Birth" was shown afterwards. Though much shorter and less elaborate, it made ten times the impact of the first part of the evening.
The setting was austere - a vast, black-painted space at Mana Wynwood, an enormous former shipping warehouse, filled with some 2,000 clear plastic chairs neatly lined up to face a stage. No drinks, no food, no fripperies until after the show. Still, the house was full.
Photo by Penn Eastburn for Mana Common
The music was exquisitely played. Pastor, a muscular, fluid dancer with a vivid, mime/clown-like presence, (emphasized by a multi-color suit), improvised in ways that highlighted or mirrored the music's moods. He flipped and jumped and played, or stood, arms opening slowly, as Rachlin reached a poignant climax. But the two things together didn't add up to more than the sum of their parts - it was clever and entertaining, certainly. But it was a bit like a classy version of adding animation to classical music, as if it weren't enough on its own.
"Inverted Birth," however, was perfectly simple - and stunning. Viola is a veteran of the avant-garde (he worked with the brilliant choreographer Merce Cunningham, always a good sign) and this video perfectly unites concept with expression. On a tall screen, we saw a barechested man soaked by black liquid, the only sound a few drops hitting the floor - he seems overcome, drowning. Slowly, the drops reverse, becoming a stream flowing upwards, first black, then red, then white; when the liquid goes clear, and we see the man's face, it's exhilarating. That clear upward flowing waterfall gradually ends as well, revealing the man, dry, open, unaffected. All Viola has done is reverse film of liquid falling on a single man. Yet the effect is magical: as if time and gravity were reversed, disorienting and exhilarating. - Jordan Levin
Photographer Leah Schrager is an unabashed exhibitionist. As a "Fourth Wave Feminist," she uses her (often manipulated) selfies to provoke examination of taboos regarding women's bodies and against eroticism in art. "Just because something elicits arousal or shows elements of sexiness does absolutely not make it not art." She's also an active proponent of agency for professional models. Her new photographic series, "Glitter Peach", curated by filmmaker Robert Adanto, opens tonight (Wednesday) at MiamiBeach Cinematheque in South Beach at 5:30pm. Adanto will then screen his interview-based documentary about radical feminist performance, called "The F Word."
City Hall, 1130 Washington Ave. South Side, Ground Floor
Leah Schrager, Glitter Peach
For the opening night of Miami Art Week at the Perez Art Museum of Miami (PAMM), KROMA Art Space & Studios located in Coconut Grove collaborated with PAMM for Raison d'Art - A Celebration of The David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland. The soiree hosted an intimate conversation with artist and scholar David C. Driskell, one of the leading authorities on the subject of African-American art. Moderated by actress and philanthropist Sherry Bronfam, the discussion reflected on the importance of collecting and preserving the cultural legacy of African-American art, and Mr. Driskell reflected on his own early years as an artist. Still at a young 85-years old, Mr. Driskell still shows a burning passion for African-American art and culture.
The soiree benefited PAMM's African-American Art Fund with KROMA presenting a $5,000 contribution towards the fund to PAMM director, Franklin Sirmans. Raison d'Art is part of the Art of Black event presented by the Multicultural Tourism Department at the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB).
Director Mikhaile Solomon has widened the global footprint of the Art Week fair she founded four years ago now in a larger Little River venue with extended programming. Her consistent focus is presenting artists of the African Diaspora and showcasing the diversity of their themes and expressions.
As in previous years, she's invited guest curators, while making many of the 60+ selections herself. She has included first-time and repeat artists from the United States, the Caribbean and several African nations. Miami's highly-regarded itinerant curator, William Cordova, combines his intimate knowledge of this region's most distinctive if sometimes lesser-known talents, and they get strong representation. But his national connections that stem from residencies and guest curating gigs around the country give him broad reach. He totally "gets" Solomon's vision and shares his expertise in developing synergies among the works, which include sculpture, painting, graphics and video.
Harlem-based television producer and filmmaker Kirsten Magwood is the third curator. Her exhibition Callipygous Complex extolls the sensuality of the female derriere, while also raising issues of objectification and power relationships. She brings a light touch while mixing powerful sensuality with sharp critique. Her exhibition is in part a fund-raiser for a film she's undertaking that explores kindred themes to those underlying her contribution to PRIZM.
The New York-based Rush Philanthropic Foundation, which has provided ongoing support to Solomon and Cordova, installed an outstanding set of 20 prints, created by residency alumnae from the past 20 years.
Wednesday evening, after exhibition hours, PRIZM takes over the Miami Science Museum Barge for a program of critics' talks, discussion and a dinner, presented by the Copper Door restaurant.
Two performances form Thursday evening's program. Exhibiting graphic artist and sculptor Nyugen Smith, orchestrates a three-generation Salvation Army band in a musical conversation between the marching band tradition and his family's Haitian heritage.
Ayana Evans presents a purification ceremony that delves into diverse notions of cleanliness. The title, "Gurl I'd Drink Your Bath Water" evokes the carnal associations with bathing, while cultural and religious dimensions comprise other layers.
Friday noon to 5 p.m. features a series of panel discussions by arts coop leaders, educators, artists and Rush Foundation members on various hot topics that hold special relevance to people of color.
7230 NW Miami Ct., Miami http://www.prizmartfair.com
Through Dec. 15.
- George Fishman