Temporary ContemporaryMiami Beach, FL
TC: temporary contemporary is a city-wide, public art program initiated by the Bass Museum of Art with the City of Miami Beach. It seeks to activate the urban landscape with art, surprising and engaging residents, visitors and passers-by with outdoor works of art in unexpected places. Sculpture, murals, sound installations, video and other interactive works of art, will interrupt people’s daily routines and encourage thoughtful interactions with the city and its communities.
ARTPLACE: Is there a new challenge that engaging in creative placemaking presents for you, your organization and the artists who work with you? Are there new skills required?
GUARDAT: There is a definite shift from programming inside an institution, where the visitors make the conscious choice to engage and participate with artworks, to working outside of the establishment’s walls. As a part of the selection team, one can’t help but wonder whether certain projects will be palatable to the community, if they will offend, if they will be ignored, or if they will be so despised that they encourage vandalism or theft. It’s this conscious shift that makes public art so intriguing to me; we are asking visitors to engage and participate in their community whether they planned to, wanted to or not. Once all of these considerations are taken into account the end result is, and should be, that if an artwork is deemed “worthy” to be displayed within the confines of the classical museum setting, then it’s just a matter of engineering and logistics to make the project happen outside the safe environment of a cultural institution.
Certainly the movement from inside to outside and private to public, requires more effort and re-thinking on the part of the artists. Safety, liability, structural integrity and the snail-paced permitting process can be frustrating. But I’ve found so far that the artists relish the challenge of modifying their processes and adapting their works in order to reach a larger audience.
Many of the artists that have submitted projects to TC have never been to Miami, or have come only during the week of Art Basel Miami Beach, which does not give them an accurate view of the local community of artists, residents and year-round tourists. They see the glamourous intellectually-receptive crowd as Miami, which is not the reality. Beyond the crazy week in December when the entire art world descends upon the beach and tries to wear stilettos in the sand, Miami Beach suffers from an identity crisis. Very few of us are “from here.” Cultural institutions compete with the beaches, the enormous fishbowls of frozen drinks with mile-long straws, an active nightlife scene and near nakedness as far as the eye can see. Sea, Sex and Sun. Insert Art.
But luckily, there are the “locals” that are fighting the fight against the unnatural perfection that is Miami Beach. So far we have been very fortunate with our program to have experienced relative ease in establishing partnerships with venues throughout the district. Movie theaters, art centers, restaurants and hotels have all expressed excitement over hosting artworks or performances. The community and public leaders have been optimistic and excited about each project that we have presented to them. It’s now up to TC to put things out there in a thoughtful and safe way for the public to interact with. Hopefully those 10 seconds spent posing in front of the artwork for a snapshot will trigger something inside and subtly distract from the previous train of thought – where should we go for our next mojito?