In pictures: large-scale art comes to life in Meridians at Art Basel in Miami Beach

Curator Magalí Arriola walked us through some of her favourite pieces in the fair sector

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Brendan Fernandes, Contract and Release (2019-21) presented by Monique Meloche

“These were first presented at the Noguchi Museum [in New York], and they were inspired by props Isamu Noguchi designed for [the US dancer and choreographer] Martha Graham’s 1944 dance piece, Appalachian Spring. Noguchi’s sculptures were very stable and static, but these have movement and for Fernandes they’re about how the body is colonised—even through dance.”

Brendan Fernandes, Contract and Release (2019-21) presented by Monique Meloche

“These were first presented at the Noguchi Museum [in New York], and they were inspired by props Isamu Noguchi designed for [the US dancer and choreographer] Martha Graham’s 1944 dance piece, Appalachian Spring. Noguchi’s sculptures were very stable and static, but these have movement and for Fernandes they’re about how the body is colonised—even through dance.”

As collectors streamed into Art Basel in Miami Beach’s Meridians sector during the fair’s first VIP day on Tuesday, many came across an unexpected sight: dancers riding and moving among a set of abstract, minimalistic wooden sculptures. The piece, Contract and Release (2019-21) by Brendan Fernandes, is the only work in Meridians that is activated by performers. But many of the large-scale works selected for the section by the curator Magalí Arriola, the director of the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, brim with distinctive figures and dynamism. Arriola walked us through some of her favourite pieces in Meridians.
Photographs by Eric Thayer

Janaina Tschäpe, Between Veils of Blue and Grey, a Forest (2021), presented by Sean Kelly

“She normally works at a smaller scale, but she’s one of the few artists I know of who actually started making much bigger pieces during the pandemic. She moved outside the city and had so much more space.”

Rebecca Manson, Gutter (2021) presented by Josh Lilley

“Rebecca has this catalogue of natural elements, and she makes them one by one and then assembles them. The result is this effect of arrested movement that is very dreamlike.”

Maxwell Alexandre, Untitled [New Power Series] (2021) presented by A Gentil Carioca

“This work is from a series that references a type of black paper that was used in Brazil to make identification cards—to whitewash and police Black and brown bodies. The images include these young students in public school uniforms looking at art, so it’s also about the power structures of museums.”


Sadie Laska, Untitled (2021) presented by Ceysson & Bénétière

“She used to work a lot more with abstraction but this has very clear references to banners and flags. She told me that was something that came out of the pandemic; she started sewing and working much more manually. She started to work with flag fabrics she ordered online and found fabrics she recycled, and it’s really about recovering the banner as a medium for social demonstrations.”

Jacqueline de Jong, De achterkant van het bestaan (The backside of existence) (1992) presented by Pippy Houldsworth

“She was one of very few women artists in the Situationist International movement. This work is much later, from 1992; it was commissioned by the Dutch National Bank and it was meant to divide the tellers from the customers, but also to create a sense of continuity because it is double-sided.”

Yinka Shonibare CBE, Moving Up (2021) presented by James Cohan

“This piece is a reference to the Great Migration, when so many people were moving from the South of the US looking for better opportunities and better jobs. And it is about the contrast between that climbing and then, on the other side of these very Western, Baroque stairs, there’s nothing.”

Vaughn Spann, Rover (2021), presented by David Castillo and Almine Rech

“This is from his Dalmatian series, which is a reference to that breed of dog, which is a pop culture reference of course, but also for him a reference to something that is very economically codified and belongs to white upper-class families.”

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