Femininity and gender equality discussed at the UNTITLED Fair, Miami Art Basel 2018
By bringing art society from around the world together, Art Basel in Miami is a yearly art and culture celebration of the highest rank in the United States. Foremost galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa introduce works of their modern and contemporary art masters, including new generation of emerging talents. During the art fair certain spaces in the city of Miami turning into art platforms. Spending an intensive week filled with exhibitions and art events, dj sets and private parties, I feel incredibly inspired. However, there are also a number of questions to discuss.
The UNTITLED Art Fair at the Ocean drive on the South Beach that through December, 5th-9th, leaves space for established art galleries and non-profit organisations, which spread awareness of significant social and political issues, engaging visitors into an exploratory conversation. One of the participators was the non-profit art platform Girls’ Club based in Fort Lauderdale, who presented a project Changing Room. Featuring performance work of Swedish dancer and choreographer, Jenny Larsson and a static installation with wearable design pieces from the visual artists such as Lucinda Linderman, Michelle Weinberg, and Natalie Zlamalova, the female art collective challenges the conventional norms for the expression of the public female identity. Seemingly, the ability of the Swedish dancer to integrate her feministic considerations into her own artistic language, has inspired American artists, what resulted in a series of grotesque garments. The question is whether the artists’ elaboration on the idea is a further interpretation or a protest against Swedish pragmatism when it concerns femininity. Furthermore, I feel slightly uncertain concerning the Miami streets being ready to switch to the “Swedish” style of femininity, which definitely is not about girls having nice legs and a tan and radiating their sexuality as an exchange currency for success and empowerment.
Another intriguing performance piece at the UNTITLED fair was submitted by the Russian /American visual artist and social justice activist Ekaterina Juskowski. Her fifty-hour long performance #NeverNotWorking, in which the artist uses the fashion accessory le tablier, text and colour, aimed to manifest the necessity of taking stand towards the repeated injustice of the underpaid domestic labourers. The performance has a deep personal connection because Ekaterina’s great-grandmother was one of such labourers, doing laundry for other people in order to make her own living.
Amongst the female contributors, I was able to discover artworks, created by male actors with relation to femininity and gender equality. At booth B 27, managed by the Sapar Contemporary Gallery (New York), had invited visitors to his exciting conversation. Young Azerbaijan artist Faig Ahmed showed a series of handmade carpets, woven by the Middle Eastern women. Understood as psychedelic creations, the rugs involve collectors in a multi-faceted interpretation game. “On a fundamental level, we spread out carpets on the floor to decorate and embellish our homes, the places, where gender equality begins. This is why I’d like to move beyond.” Faig Ahmed’s rugs and intertwine issues of power and subjectivity, gender and class, culture and individuality. To me, when the conditions are right, an artwork becomes resplendent.