MIAMI — Tuesday at 11 a.m. I was granted an all-access press pass to Art Basel—possibly the most instantaneous ego-inflation a 21-year-old art student can experience. No-line entry to all venues, complimentary cocktails in the VIP lounges and gallery owners asking for my (nonexistent) business card. Even to a native South Floridian, Miami feels glamorous amid the trendy crowds and colorful artworks of Art Basel.
With the main event not set to open until the following day, I headed for the beach. Housed in an oceanfront tent, UNTITLED is a curated art fair for international galleries and nonprofit art spaces with a focus on emerging and midcareer contemporary art. It is fitting that Miami attracts a large body of works by artists of Latino descent. I found myself drawn in particular to the large, threaded sculptures of Adrian Esparza, a Texan artist featured at both the Max Estrella and the Cindy Rucker Gallery booths. Esparza weaves the vivid colors of the serape from his native Mexico into minimal geometric shapes, deconstructing the craft of blanket making to visualize how cultural identity can become unraveled through the process of immigration. The series was all the more provocative in its Miami setting, a place known for its dense population of Latin American and Caribbean immigrants.
ABOVE: Adrian Esparza, Untitled serape diptych, 2013. wood, paint, nails, serape.
All throughout the tent I had noticed guests toting rolled-up papers in plastic umbrella bags. UNTITLED produced a series of original posters designed for the exhibition by various artists, and they were waiting in stacks by the door. After collecting nearly one of each, I made my way back onto the sands of South Beach.
UNTITLED is definitely a must-see for Art Basel goers— especially those looking for an excuse to pack a bathing suit in their day bag.
All photos from UNTITLED by Nicole Rudden for the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.