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December 05, 2003
Art basel, Miami Beach and Naoya Hatakeyama and Vik Muniz and Takashi Murakami, for now... (a very tiny part one in a series...)

How could I possibly try to describe even the emotional size of Art Basel Miami Beach? Just the main event, in the convention center of Miami Beach took six hours to walk through. How could anybody possibly go to a gigantic "Art loves Design" party (theme "carnival") afterwards? I could barely move and really barely see anything somehow focused after the main show. Could it be that I am just too old for these things? Or do I actually need to digest what I saw and heard and spoke about? (I really think that I am simply living far above my age... let's hope I am the baby Metusalem in the making.) I heard of people "doing the main show" in 45 minutes... kids... you must be kidding...
To put things short, no, I was not at the absolutely fabulous design district party yesterday and no, I did not even go to the opening of the little opening of "Long Shots", I did not see "Art Nova" and did not get to see "NADA" Art fair (yet). Gosh, I even completely missed the fact that there is an Inka Essenhigh show at the Museum of Contemporary Art here... by now I feel pretty much like I felt when I first arrived in New York... there is just too much to do to actually get to see it all...
But, what I got to see was quite spectacular, I can not really complain at all. The main venue felt like a gigantic river of thoughts and ideas (some really new and some... ahem... polluted back into the waters...) and I felt a bit like a little Salmon boy, on the second return to the bear infested sexy mountain waters. It was good to see some friendly faces, some familiar pieces, some new ones by old friends...hmm.
I hoped that it would take me a good night of sleep to be able to understand my little notes about the highlights of the show and that I would be able to just post a very comprehensive description of the event here, but this is also not going to happen, as too much happened really, some portion of my visual brain is probably swollen now, I was not allowed to take pictures, or maybe I did not even want to... oh... this post is turning into one huge whining act... (Ahem, I just noticed that I can not find my little notebook I carried around with me yesterday, so this here will be a real memory trapeze act.)
First the happy and familiar. Naoya Hatakeyama’s new work is really breathtaking. The Japanese photographer known for his Limeworks and Blasts and Slow Glass series has some new spectacular work on the market. ATMOS is the name of the series and there is going to be a really beautiful book out very soon. (Taka Ishii from Tokyo had a prototype and it is truly an unfolding beauty.) The photographs, which, as the book and the art dealers suggest, should be displayed as diptychs, present a Naoya Hatakeyama view of industrial as well as natural landscapes in France. Never before have I seen photographs of such spectacular clouds, created by machines made by people, turned into stunning work by a man using a machine. I am really looking forward to seeing large portions of the series in a large exhibition context. (They are unfortunately too large to fit a regular New York Apartment.) Single pieces from the series are still very affordable and certainly recommended. Naoya Hatakeyama does not fail to stun. (The new pieces were available from Taka Ishii in Tokyo and the quite excellent L.A. Gallery in Frankfurt for under $7000/photograph.)
Sprinkled around the fair, was new work by Vik Muniz. His new magazine series makes his work appear more and more like something Chuck Close would probably do if he ever used hole punched magazine pieces. This is naturally a good thing. I am maybe not as ecstatic about the new work as I was about some of his previous streams of visual thought, but Muniz is one magician supreme, the new work is as perfectly crafted as any of his so far. We love Vik Muniz.
My favorite piece by Vik hung in the area of Benítez Gallery from Madrid and it was not even technically a photograph but a sepia toned photogravure, one based on the cover image of a recent catalogue of a retrospective in Spain... (Since "Seeing is Believing" is sold out everywhere, this might be the new Muniz book to get? I am not sure if it is out in the US yet, but this should not stop some fans.) The earthy piece at Benítez carried some of the warmth and soul of the Muniz' we all "fell in love with"... but maybe that's just me. The graphic piece was also under $10000, I did not ask about the pricing structure of the photographs.
What else was happy and familiar? Here and there were little paintings by Takashi Murakami. They were tiny little mushrooms, maybe 12x12cm, on grey little canvasses... smiling happily for $15000-$50000 each. Hmm...
One could have purchased editions of Gerhard Richter family snapshots, with artfully smeared oil paint, covering all faces in the picture for about the same amount... Some people like it when their investment is cute and smiles back at them, some use different criteria.
To be continued... (of course...)

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