Why is everything so beautiful? On at Art Basel in Miami Beach

CLAIRE KORON ELAT

After a 48h venture in Miami, Berlin welcomes me with the muddy remnants of snow, which was never that white anyway. Miami seems to be the perfect remedy for what mental health professionals call Seasonal Affective Disorder [SAD]: sunny, sparky, and carefree. All you really care about is the next yacht, the next celebrity, and how short a skirt can be to still be technically considered a skirt. At least this is the case during “Art Basel week,” which is how predominantly influencers and non-art pilgrims refer to the splashy week of events surrounding Art Basel in Miami Beach. While it is meteorologically impossible to get seasonal depression in Miami, there might be another form of an affective disorder creeping through the shiny surface, which the city’s sacrilegious citizens, and visitors, suffer from: everything is beautiful disorder. Whether it be a freshly grafted BBL, a Prada bralette bedecked with thousands of sequins, or the amount of digits on your account balance. If it is not beautiful yet, you just have to spend enough money to make it so. It is certainly debatable if this is classifiable as an affective disorder, but it is surely a mode of self-deception and delusion. Even after a global pandemic, the fact that we may not have enough food by 2050, and all kinds of other apocalyptic global happenings, the art world — and everyone else — seems to have learned not much.

What looks good today might not look good tomorrow (2000) is the title of an infamous painting by Michel Majerus whose show “Progressive Aesthetics” at ICA Miami is one of many exhibitions taking place globally on the occasion of the Luxembourgish artist’s 20th death-day. But what is the conclusion when it already does not look good today?

When I arrive back from the convention center, a brown package is waiting for me in my hotel room. Although I wear sneakers perhaps once a month to buy snacks at a Späti in the night, I am pleasantly surprised by the inside of the package: On running shoes. I throw on my new pair of shoes and feel like a Pilates mom, which, frankly, is the exact feeling I expect from sneakers that usually make you look rather inelegant. During my stopover in Munich, I was debating with a friend if I should rather buy Chanel slingbacks or Amina Muaddi heels [specifically the ones absent of a slingback] as my airport shoe, as I felt so uncomfortable in the sneakers, adorned for solely practical reasons. Even though I did buy the Amina Muaddi’s, I am now seriously considering to just indulge the Pilates mom vibrations and wear my On shoes whenever I am traveling.

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On the occasion of this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach, On invited industry professionals and friends on an experience walk and sunset dinner outside of the bustling city. In collaboration with local artist Naomi Fisher, guests were escorted via a boat to a small national park on an island close to the city. After an experimental performance in the forest and listening to some natural soundscapes produced with tree bark, we arrived at dinner, which consisted of a vegan four-course menu and kombucha cocktails. Here I spoke with Fisher about the glamorization of art fairs. The artist has lived in Miami since the beginning of Art Basel Miami Beach 20 years ago and has observed the continuous acceleration of art becoming a status symbol and the fair mutating into a runway. MSCHF’s ATM Leaderboard, presented at Perrotin’s booth, was probably the physical epitome of art fairs — and perhaps also art in general — being an excessive display of wealth rather than taking place for the art’s sake. Will art still be good tomorrow? Or will it be a mere luxury accessory — not significantly different from a sequined bralette — as critic Martin Herbert claimed in his latest opinion piece on Art Review. On running shoes look good today and most likely will tomorrow, since they are sustainably produced. If the same can be said for Miami’s sacrilegious citizens and the world’s art fair goers, however, remains questionable.

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