Art Basel Miami Beach 2009
Nova Booth H27
For Art Basel Miami Beach 2009, Alexander Gray Associates presented a solo exhibition of veteran performance artist, Feminist theorist and cultural critic Lorraine O’Grady. Central to the presentation is the premiere of a new body of photographic works, which documents O’Grady’s 1983 Harlem performance.
Art Is . . . , a joyful performance in Harlem’s African-American Day Parade, September 1983, was, from the point of view of the work’s connection with its audience, O’Grady’s most immediately successful piece. Its impetus had been to answer the challenge of a non-artist acquaintance in the Heresies Feminist collective, that “avant-garde art doesn’t have anything to do with black people.” O’Grady’s response was to put avant-garde art into the largest Black space she could think of, the million-plus viewers of the parade, to disprove her friend’s presumptions. The performance was undertaken in a spirit of elation which carried over through the day; unlike previous works which had critiqued the art world from within, this piece was to be about art, not about the art world. Rather than an invasion, it was more a crashing of the party. The 9 x 15-foot antique-styled gold frame mounted on the gold-skirted parade float moved slowly up Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard, framing everything it passed as art, and the 15 young actors and dancers dressed in white framed viewers with empty gold picture frames to shouts of “Frame me, make me art!” and “That’s right, that’s what art is, WE’re the art!”
The timelessness, elegance and simplicity of O’Grady’s gesture belies the complex readings conveyed in the resulting images. In 2009, the work takes a photographic form; both independently and as a group, the images convey the motion and spirit of the action itself. Today, they are time capsules of Harlem’s community before the impact of the crack epidemic and real estate gentrification, a reminder of the politics and power of art making, and the joy in experiencing art itself.
About Art Basel Miami Beach 2009
Art Basel Miami Beach is one of the most important art fairs in the United States, a cultural and social highlight for the Americas. As the sister event of Switzerland's Art Basel, one of the most prestigious art fairs worldwide for the past 38 years, Art Basel Miami Beach combines an international selection of top galleries with an exciting program of special exhibitions, parties and crossover events featuring music, film, architecture and design. Exhibition sites are located in the city's beautiful Art Deco District, within walking distance of the beach and many hotels.
An exclusive selection of more than 220 leading art galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa will exhibit 20th and 21st century artworks by over 2,000 artists. The exhibiting galleries are among the world's most respected art dealers, offering exceptional pieces by both renowned artists and cutting-edge newcomers. Special exhibition sections feature young galleries, performance art, public art projects and video art. The fair is a vital source for art lovers, allowing them to both discover new developments in contemporary art and experience rare museum-calibre artworks.
Top-quality exhibitions in the museums of South Florida and special programs for art collectors and curators also help make the event a special time for encountering art. Every year a greater number of art collectors, artists, dealers, curators, critics and art enthusiasts from around the world participate in Art Basel Miami Beach—a favorite winter meeting place for the international art world.