In the corners of the vast Convention Center that houses Art Basel Miami Beach are small project-focused mini-fairs with names like Positions, Nova, and Survey. Most are installations or solo projects by emerging artists presented by emerging galleries. It's a smart, if often uneven, complement to the blue chippiness of the main fair.
Frizia Irizar: Untitled (The disappearance of the symbol)
I was unfamiliar with the Phyrgian cap until Martin Puryear showed sculptures based on the form last year at Matthew Marks Gallery. A symbol of the French Revolution, the snug red cap with the floppy cone --usually knitted, sometimes felted-- has its origin in antiquity. In ancient Greece and Rome it was worn by freed slaves. It was adopted as the symbol of freedom during the French Revolution. Later, anti-colonial revolutions in Latin America, as well as here, were inspired by the actions of the wearers of little red cap and adopted it as a symbol of freedom as well. (Info here.)
Martin Puryear's sculpture, left, based on the Phrygian cap, right
Fritzia Irizar's knitted cap in the Arredondo\Arozarena booth
In Irizar's incarnation, the cap was slowly unraveling. The thread from one end of the cap passed though pulleys that were placed on the three open walls of the booth, and a spool turned at intervals to amass the thread. I first saw the cap on Wednesday morning during the press preview, when it was all of a piece. By the time I'd returned on Saturday afternoon, it was almost gone.
The gallery described the process as "the political machinery in motion." It was the most memorable work I saw.
The spooling mechanism used to unravel the thread
By Saturday afternoon the cap was almost gone. By the end of the fair on Sunday afternoon, the cap would be completely unraveled
Up next: Some Paintings
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