Thank the art gods: Art Basel Miami Beach 2017 is a wrap! Good goddamn riddance to the severe perma-hangovers for those in attendance; goodbye Instagram FOMO-inducing stories for those who were not. If you follow the type I do, you might think Basel was a Cardi B promo tour via Instagram stories. I saw the queen (sort of, it was crowded!) perform at two painfully hip parties that had nothing to do with art. Well, unless you consider pushing through the chaotic crowd to the open bar as art. I may or may not.
And though I’ve attended Basel for the past seven years, this may or may not have been the first time I’ve seen any art. Between being disinvited to the opening of the Museum of Ice Cream (why is this a thing, BTW?) and double-fisting very sweet cocktails at a Prada bash, it happened. I finally saw some ART. Not "Miley Cyrus rocking silver metallic pasties while belting out 'Super Freak' and smoking a joint at a party" art (that’s so 2014), but real, really good art.
In other words, I was invited to an event premiering a documentary series called StoryBooked. I didn’t really know what this meant, but I did know that Virgil "I Love You" Abloh was the evening’s DJ and it was open bar, so I did know that this was not to be missed. (Also, I absolutely do not turn down poolside parties at the W South Beach hotel.)
After sipping, aka chugging, a cocktail or three immediately upon entrance and chit-chatting with designer-clad NYC It kids, whose names I didn’t recall, I then found myself in front of… ART! Specifically, four very diverse pieces by four very diverse emerging artists: Andrew Myers, who primarily uses screws to create his work; Felix Semper, who’s best known for his nutty, stretchable sculptures (Google his Notorious B.I.G. sculpture now); Paula Wilson, painter and printmaker with a pretty punch; and Fidan Bagirova, whose metal flower sculpture on display at the event blew me away.
Later on in the night, the hip as hell crowd gathered to watch an episode of StoryBooked. The five-minute-ish long moody and visceral episodes documented each emerging artist’s journeys as they embarked to destinations of their choice, including Japan, Italy, Spain, and Peru. The inspiration and experiences from their journeys resulted in the creations that were on display at the evening’s event, and the documentary's goal is to inspire folks to travel and to create, telling stories that illustrate a shared human experience and create a universal language through art. Mission accomplished. (I also accomplished dancing the night away thanks to Abloh, alcohol, and the cinematic atmosphere involving neon-lit palm trees, a glistening pool, and a fog machine.)
Now if only I could afford and fit Bagirova’s metal flower sculpture into my sad studio apartment. Next stop (I hope): Art Basel Hong Kong, where I’ll promise myself to check out more than one art show for a change. Little steps. But, for now, I’ll get back to working on this never-ending, infamous ABMB hangover.
Check out Fidan Bagirova's video trip to Japan, below, and see the rest of the StoryBooked films here.