Brickell City Centre (BCC), will host FREE!, an alternative, non-commercial contemporary art fair poised to be a historic convergence of some of the world’s most recognized and pioneering artists. Made possible by Swire Properties Inc, FREE! will present an intersectional group of artists creating site-specific interventions in a non-traditional venue. FREE! interrupts and activates public spaces in the shopping center based on three core principles: FREE! Public, FREE! Play, and FREE! View. Each sector addresses notions of healing, empathy and connectivity; to inspire, reflect and encourage participation from the public.
Miami-based cultural producer Anthony Spinello, founder of gallery and creative house Spinello Projects, conceptualized FREE! with investigations into nominal concepts of race, gender, nationality, sexuality, and religion through experiential and participatory installations, video and performance. Borders and divisions, both physical and ideological, are explored by these artists. Lines are endlessly drawn, redrawn, erased and replaced in an effort to create deep rifts in our society and culture – and yet lines may also be wires, threads, streams and scars which can activate, bind, and bring us together. FREE! reimagines the traditional art fair model by providing free access to the public and space to create site-specific interventions in a commercial, non-traditional venue. Nothing is bought or sold, in opposition to object-driven consumerism.
FREE! Public opened with a “Locals Only Preview” on Black Friday, the busiest consumer day of the year, offering the community a first look at the large-scale billboards by artists Genevieve Gaignard and Hank Willis Thomas and Emily Shur (For Freedoms). Antonia Wright and Ruben Millares presented Love on an Escalator: a public intervention featuring an ensemble of ten couples kissing on public escalators throughout the mall. Norberto Rodriguez activated mirrors in the public restrooms with inspirational messages and potent truisms. Local collaborative Nice’n Easy (in collaboration with Wynwood Wallpapers) provides a surreal visual entitled Fresh Water: a motif wall covering flowing across a 50-foot storefront barricade wall on the second floor pedestrian bridge, which can be observed from the street below. On the reverse side of the bridge, Elysa Batista presents Mirror Phase: a 40-foot long sculptural haiku made from a mirror that reflects the external environment, piquing the interest of passersby and engaging public spatial awareness.
Additional public spaces active during Miami Art Week will include a For Freedoms pop-up space (located on Level 1, “A” Block, Saks Fifth Avenue wing) where the collective will exhibit artwork, share ideas, and inspire civic engagement. Michele Pred’s infamous Power of The Purse installation will light up the Saks Fifth Avenue window on 8th street and Misael Soto’s interventionist construction signs will stop you in your tracks.
Norberto Rodriguez will also be occupying a storefront space (located on Level 3, “A” Block, Saks Fifth Avenue wing) premiering a new work titled The present.; a continuation of a series of sanative projects. For the duration of the fair, Norberto will remain indoors, without leaving, until the project’s completion on Dec 9th. Anyone from the public can sign up online for a one hour conversation with Rodriguez inside the white cube and are encouraged to bring any object they wish to have transformed into an art piece by him during their session. Walk in appointments are also welcome during regular mall hours.
FREE! Play is a 6,000 square-foot raw storefront space (located on Level 4, “A” Block, next to CMX) featuring large-scale video installations. Cara Despain’s multi-panel video Slow Burn (adapted from a work first made in 2014) sees a lit fuse trail across a desert landscape, as if to signal some mass explosion, running to an unknown fate that is never revealed. In Love shows Patty Chang face to face with both her mother and father (in two separate panels), seemingly sharing a deep, transgressive kiss; when in fact, she has filmed the act of eating an onion with each parent in reverse as what is broken and tearful becomes whole again. Guillermo Leon Gomez literally draws lines around and across himself that emulate at first a large crosshairs, which then becomes the bloodied wounds of Christian martyrs, and then becomes the exaggerated application of makeup: his drawing tool is red lipstick. Micol Hebron recreates an adolescent game she observed from her high school students called Gay Chicken, where two boys dare each other to move forward step by step until they kiss. In her video, she examines this early trial of male intimacy as the game is recreated with both men and women, gay and straight. On loan from PAMM’s (Pérez Art Museum Miami) collection is Amazing Grace by Wangechi Mutu: turning a personal lens on the redemptive English hymn in Kikuyu, her native Kenyan language. Franky Cruz will combine live performance and Lepidopterology in One Fifth of an Ounce, where he inhabits a vivarium built to rehabilitate Monarch butterflies’ wings by hand.
FREE! View is a 11,000 square-foot space (located on Level 4, “C” Block, above La Centrale) with large scale installations and interactive projects, including a groundbreaking Performance Lab. A triumphant and joyous work called Reprise by celebrated Pioneer Winter Collective combines dance and theatre incorporating modalities of queerness and marginalization. Francisco De La Torre’s functional sculptures celebrate the complexity of the plant world and the practicality of standardized design. Giannina Dwin aims to reconcile the fragile environment and its specific impact on women and the disadvantaged in a lyric installation called Waves. Connected to Franky Cruz’s video is the outfit of a live vivarium temple and the production of grid paintings made from the colorful secretions from a chrysalis hatchling. A performance by Taja Lindley, The Bag Lady Manifesta, invites audiences to reconsider what they may let go, and what to remember – individually and collectively.
Participating artists: Troy Abbott, Nathalie Alfonso, Elysa D. Batista, Cassils, Patty Chang, Franky Cruz, Rev. Houston R. Cypress, Francisco De La Torre, Cara Despain, Bernadette Despujols, Giannina Dwin, Genevieve Gaignard, Guillermo Leon Gomez, Micol Hebron, Amanda Keeley, Sinisa Kukec, Taja Lindley, Justin H. Long, Carlos Martiel, Wangechi Mutu, Tameka J. Norris, Michelle Lisa Polissaint, Cheryl Pope, Michele Pred, Emanuel Ribas, Norberto Rodriguez, Emilio Rojas, Stefan Roloff, Misael Soto, Naama Tsabar, Antonia Wright, Octavia Yearwood, and Slim 007. With partnered participation from Sebastian Believer / Cara Despain / Kenny Riches / Agustina Woodgate, Antonia Wright / Ruben Millares, Michael Namkung / Mel Day, Sibel Kocabasi / Raheleh Filsoofi, Nice’n Easy, Pioneer Winter Collective, Hank Willis Thomas / Emily Shur, and For Freedoms.
FREE! is generously supported by Swire Properties Inc., one of South Florida’s leading international developers and visionary behind Brickell City Centre, in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Additional funding by: The Ellies, Miami’s visual arts awards, presented by ArtCenter/South Florida, Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant, and Courvoisier’s #HonorYourCode Program. Additional support by: Wynwood Wallpapers, SEES (Statewide Electric and Environmental Solutions), and Pillows and Fibers Inc.. FREE! is founded by Anthony Spinello and produced by Spinello Projects. #FREEatBCC | #FREETOGETHER | @FreePublicArt | @spinelloprojects