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"Here Lies Georges Wildenstein" | Primary Projects | Art Basel 2011

 Opening Reception December 1, 2011 | 6 – 10 PM

How do you harness the intrigue of an art dynasty into one space? Can the lure of fine art, the means by which its acquired and the loss of innocence in the process be manifested? An ambitious collection of works from fifteen artists builds to a fever pitch with ‘Here Lies Georges Wildenstein’ at Primary Projects. Touching on the senses of repulsion and fascination felt within the highest circles of the art world, new works from artists who bridge a solidly established academic practice with a sexy, devil-may-care attitude for art pour l’art are unveiled exclusively during Art Basel Miami Beach. The title echoes the dubious, often scandalous, activities of the twentieth century’s most influential family of dealers and researchers whose influence was so entrenched into the visual arts consciousness, that even allegations as being Nazi collaborators could not quell the media’s fascination with their limitless professional and personal clout.

The works prompt a range of piercing questions. Do artists allow their works to be swept up in the mass of collectors, curators, museum trustees (those who wield considerable socio-political powers over them) or do they throw a defiant, metaphoric spit in the face as their work critiques the ‘establishment’ they love and loathe? There’s no clean description of the works or artists, themselves. This is quite literal with Miru Kim’s performance piece of ‘The Pig That Therefore I Am’, as she comes into intimate, often dangerous, contact with a caged throng of live pigs. A self-professed hygiene freak, the performance becomes a catalyst and nightmare for the 30 year-old photographer, lauded and decried for photographs placing her naked body set against forgotten industrial and urban landscapes. The institutional stature of Ancient calligraphy and the clandestine nature of ‘cholo’ graffiti are meshed together by Retna, swathing available surfaces with his cryptic text. A dedicated approach to poetry binds elegant visual content with potent urban rhythms, drawing viewers from the social gutters all the way to the cosmos. Installation artist Marc Bijl’s black pyramid raises and violates the public monument as a single gesture; the sanctity of a structure intended for intellectual praise and reflection is defaced with mark-making vandalism revealing its own dark truth. Shelter Serra’s pure white resin casts of wilted roses, a noose and an Hermès Birkin bag are veritable ‘death masks’ of common objects carrying associations of privilege, excess and emptiness.

Regardless of the artist’s intentions, a highly cultivated audience is addressed, forced to confront a bold visual representation of greed, luxury, deceit, politics and entitlement that accompanies the ‘old money’ social strata comparable to that of Wildenstein, Rockefeller and Getty. The honesty of the works and their creators ultimately end up on the walls and collections of those who pointedly lack the artist’s creative powers. The aesthetic context is a broad chronology of power plays and behind-closed-door contemporary art commerce. Deploying the concealed dynamics driving the most influential, seemingly unbreakable personalities in the art world towards their loftiest ambitions, the exhibition embodies the brash uninterrupted processes of manipulation that historic dealers, curators and artists, themselves, have engaged with for over three centuries. In this space, intelligent design and sheer creative force will come together with disturbing, intriguing and shocking results. ‘Here Lies Georges Wildenstein’ features new works from :

Marc Bijl, Retna, Michael Vasquez, Miru Kim, Cleon Peterson, George Sánchez-Calderón, Manny Prieres, Andrew Nigon, Scott Shannon, Christina Pettersson, Shelter Serra, How & Nosm, Kenton Parker, Cole Sternberg, Edouard Nardon, & Jel Martinez

Primary Projects is a multidisciplinary space, positioned at the heart of Miami’s Design District, which aims to explore and promote multiple forms of aesthetic expression from established and emerging artists, alike. Utilizing extensive, and wholly specific, experience in producing street-level curatorial endeavors in Miami, the creative forces behind Primary Projects unites the commercial and critical efforts of artists, critics, curators, professionals and patrons; the result is the vital presence of an intelligent, alternative arts environment with a bold urban sensibility delivered through a diverse range of media. ‘Here Lies Georges Wildenstein’ is curated by BooksIIII Bischof, TYPOE and Chris Oh.