The 16th edition of the Art Basel Miami Beach opened this week with much fanfare, but when one takes a closer look at the exhibits, the prominence of politicised art is easily visible. Tanya Leighton gallery from Berlin has set up a pop-up store at the fair for the Hawaiian shirts. The clothes are done by Russian-American artist Sanya Kantarovsky in collaboration with fashion designer George McCracken and have disturbing images. On these clothes, there are angry men literally strangling each other. These graphics represent the questioning of an era of degeneracy, self-interest, and relentless pursuit of happiness.
It’s an apt metaphor for the Miami fair, so long associated with beachside glitz and glamour but now increasingly a platform for highly politicised art, noted Financial Times.
The 2016 edition of the Art Basel was the first major fair held post-Donald Trump's election as the US President and proved the “apex” of the fair as a political platform.
This year also, Trump’s America pervades the booths and issues of race relations, and civil rights look to loom large of Tate Modern’s landmark "Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power" exhibition.
New York’s DC Moore gallery has a solo booth of works by David Driskell, a Civil Rights Movement artist and academic, from between 1965 and 1975. These include “Soul X” (1968), invoking human rights activist Malcolm X, and “Of Thee, I Weep” (1968), which incorporates the American national flag, a symbol in African-American protest art.
The Art Basel Miami Beach runs through December 10, 2017.