Amidst the glitz and glamor, the annual Miami Art Week again profoundly emphasized sustainability, impact, and purpose. The main Art Basel event returned to its usual sprawling Miami Beach location, with a plethora of booths helmed by 277 top galleries from 34 countries, numerous art fairs, and a multitude of VIP soirées, which paradoxically underscores an event that epitomizes contemporary art’s opulence.
As dawn breaks each day, the ironic aftermath reveals South Beach strewn with champagne remnants, an indulgence that the local community diligently cleans post-revelry.
The discourse on the climate crisis is palpable within the art community, spotlighting the excesses of the yacht culture, opulent lifestyles, vehicular emissions, and the ubiquity of disposable water bottles that Art Basel Miami is famous for.
However, the pivotal question lingers: Can sustainability in art be marketable? And can art impact the other areas of concern echoed across the galleries and 500+ side events squeezed into Miami this year: equality, diversity, and peace?
Last year, one curator opined that activist art may only sometimes find a commercial audience, but artists persistently channel their energies into this cause. Here are some of the artworks and experiences that did precisely that.
SCOPE at Art Basel Miami Beach: Global Contemporary Art and Intellectual Dialogue
The fair once again attracted art enthusiasts, collectors, and professionals from around the globe, with 79,000 visitors witnessing the latest trends and developments in the art world. While much of the attention centered on what pieces sold and for how much across the plethora of galleries, there were some notable exceptions.
In particular, SCOPE, a renowned platform for emerging and mid-career contemporary artists, illuminated Art Basel Miami Beach. SCOPE hosted over 170 galleries from 38 countries representing a global ensemble, painting a comprehensive picture of modern art’s diverse and dynamic landscape.
At the heart of SCOPE Miami Beach was “The New Contemporary” atrium. More than an exhibition space, it emerged as a nexus for intellectual discourse, hosting performances, panel discussions, and wellness activities. This vibrant convergence of artists, curators, and enthusiasts nurtured profound dialogues on art’s intersections with culture and society.
The iconic SCOPE Walls on Miami Beach stood as monumental testaments to artistic expression. Serving as expansive canvases for large-scale murals, these artworks echoed poignant reflections on pressing social and political issues, capturing attention with their vivid hues and compelling narratives.
SCOPE Miami Beach 2023 was a beacon of contemporary art’s evolving ethos. Its dedication to amplifying emerging voices, nurturing inclusive dialogues, and curating immersive experiences reinforced its pivotal role in shaping the art world’s future trajectory.
Art Basel is All About Access
The word “access” is used a lot at Art Basel. VIP access, private event access, exclusive access: visitors are always wondering what they have access to, which events they can access, and which are beyond access.
Access has started small, featuring slightly over a dozen exhibitors, including Pace Gallery, François Ghebaly, Fredric Snitzer Gallery, and others, showcasing works by artists like Hernan Bas, Katherine Bradford, and Rafael Delacruz, among others. But its intentions are good.
Buyers must pledge a minimum 10% donation on artwork purchases to The Miami Foundation or The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Art Basel has committed an initial donation of $25,000, split equally between these organizations. The Miami Foundation is a collective of three impact initiatives: Arts Access Miami, LGBTQ+ Equity Fund, and Racial Equity Fund.
Untitled Art: Inclusivity, Digital Innovation, and Sustainable Artistry
Untitled Art, a prominent independent art fair, marked its 2023 edition as its most extensive and internationally diverse presentation.
Untitled Art’s 2023 program highlighted two central curatorial themes: “Gender Equality in the Arts” and “Curating in the Digital Age.” Approximately 60% of exhibiting artists and 35% of exhibitors identified as female or non-binary, emphasizing the fair’s focus on gender inclusivity. Furthermore, the event prioritized meaningful representation, with 37% BIPOC, 23% Latin American, and 23% Asian artists and exhibitors. The exhibition also underscored its global reach with exhibitors from diverse regions, including Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America.
Recognizing the evolving landscape of art presentation when it doesn’t turn anymore, Untitled Art emphasized the role of technology with its “Curating in the Digital Age” theme. Vortic, as the fair’s Digital Partner, facilitated virtual extensions of exhibitor booths.
In alignment with environmental stewardship, Untitled Art joined the Gallery Climate Coalition and collaborated with the City of Miami Beach to ensure its presentation had no negative impact on the city or the environment. Untitled Art’s 2023 exhibition at Art Basel Miami exemplified its commitment to fostering inclusivity, embracing technological advancements, supporting emerging voices in art criticism, and promoting sustainability within the art ecosystem.
SUMM3R at PLAYGROUND: A Fusion of Web3, Art, and Cultural Innovation
Art Basel Miami is renowned for its showcase of cutting-edge art and immersive experiences, and this year, a standout side captivated attendees. During SUMM3R at PLAYGROUND, two organizations that believe in the power of creators and help them to make an impact joined forces along with leading Web3 communities.
⅄Oᒋ⅋NOISՈᖵNOϽ and WeCare Impact curated over 15 groundbreaking artists, leading impact voices, and immersive installations, with a strong focus on co-creation, ecosystem support, and providing momentum towards their joint mission to use multi-sensory experiences to create positive impact. The insightful panels and discussions that included leaders from /Prompt and Web3 Familia, which included talks on the intersection of Social Impact, Community, and Culture, and the role of creator marketing in the realm of wellness and healthcare, were underpinned by thought-provoking digital art.
In particular, the CityX NFT Art Project exists to preserve endangered art from remarkable Ukrainian avant-garde artists currently underrepresented because of the ongoing war in Ukraine. The City X NFT Art Project aims to safeguard the Municipal Gallery and Vovatanya Gallery’s collections forever. The inclusion of the revolutionary WOWCube – a tactile Rubik’s Cube-style device that uses screens instead of colored squares – showed how impactful art such as the CityX NFT collection can be interacted with in new, emotionally connecting ways.
Live art enthusiasts were rewarded as UN award-winning artist Marco Santini brought his dynamic creations to life. Attendees immersed themselves in art journeys curated around pivotal themes like climate justice and gender equality, with AR and digital artworks from Chroma Link Collective represented by Stacy Ant and Carmilla Sumantry, and VideOrbit founded by Isabelle Udo, who collaborated with Katja Perex, and several other remarkable contributors such as Fatimah Hossaini, Marjan Moghaddam, Yacine Ait Kaci (ELYX), David Lindberg, Isla Moon, Sovereign Nature, and Marina Jaber.
Further enriching the experience were live-streamed interviews on Si-Her.live, spotlighting creators and unveiling the narratives underpinning their artistic endeavors. A special segment with True Stars‘ Emily Carrig also shed light on groundbreaking projects redefining the artistic landscape. The collective focus of the event was on Thousand Faces, a community-driven funding platform to finance impact-driven female founders, shedding light on the cause of empowering female founders driving impact in startups.
Attendees ended the experience by grooving to the beats of a live set by DJ collective NEXUS, who reflected the city’s pulsating energy and amplified the multi-sensory experience of the event.
Wear the Future with Nolcha Shows: A Collision of Art, Sustainability, and Fashion
Art Basel Miami witnessed a groundbreaking fashion showcase that seamlessly melded art with sustainable style. Curated by the esteemed sustainable fashion showroom, Wear the Future, the event was a collaboration with Nolcha Shows, renowned for its discovery of avant-garde fashion designers.
Held at the iconic Sagamore South Beach, the original Art Hotel synonymous with Miami’s cultural renaissance, the event drew a crowd of press, retailers, stylists, and industry influencers. A highlight of the evening was AKS MATHUR’s collection, where leather was transformed into a canvas for vivid expression. His creations, adorned by celebrities like Sofia Reyes, showcased premium, handcrafted leather goods radiating brilliance.
Lunaversoul’s soulful handmade jewelry pieces were added to the allure, each narrating a unique story of artisanal elegance. Aflé Bijoux further enriched the narrative with their Adinkra Bracelets, celebrating culture and love while transcending cultural boundaries.
Nandanie presented a modern twist to women’s neckwear, offering sophisticated statements crafted in New York City with Italian materials. Their designs graced the likes of Miami Heat’s Josh Richardson, DJing in a classic Pearl tie, and notable figures like Doctor Jarrett Schanzer and artist Singer Valentino Bornancini.
The collaboration between Nolcha Shows and Wear the Future culminated in a Sustainable Fashion Art Showcase that went beyond mere fashion. It was an artistic narrative spotlighting sustainable elegance, artistic expression, and a shared commitment to a greener future.
Many steps in the right direction
Art Basel Miami 2023 transcended the boundaries of traditional art exhibitions, forging pathways into sustainability, digital innovation, and societal impact.
From the monumental expressions at SCOPE to the pioneering initiatives like Access and the boundary-pushing experiences at SUMM3R at PLAYGROUND, the event was a symphony of artistry and purpose.
It demonstrated that art is not just a reflection of society but a powerful catalyst for change, urging us all to reimagine, innovate, and embrace a future where art and purpose walk hand in hand.
As the sun sets on Miami’s vibrant showcase, it leaves us with a resounding message: Art has the continued potential to shape narratives, inspire movements, and pave the way for a more inclusive and sustainable world.