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Alfredo Jaar. A Logo for America (1987). Pigment print mounted on dibond. 36” x 36” each / 91.4 x 91.4 cm. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., and the artist.

FAENA FESTIVAL: THIS IS NOT AMERICA
AN EXPLORATION OF THE MULTIPLICITY OF CULTURES ACROSS THE CONTINENT

Miami Beach (December 2018) – Buenos Aires (April 2019)

An experimental platform, the first-ever Faena Festival was an exploration of America as a concept, a myth and a narrative that -at times- has divided us, but ultimately has the power to unify across physical, political and conceptual borders.

The first iteration of the ‘Faena Festival: This Is Not America’ took Alfredo Jaar’s prescient 1987 work A Logo for America, as a point of departure for the exploration of America as a place, concept and myth. In addition to this iconic work, it featured commissions, installations, videos and performances by Derrick Adams, Miya Ando, Cecilia Bengolea, Joseph Beuys, Ana Teresa Fernández, Eugene Jarecki, Isabel Lewis, Boris Mitic, Luna Paiva, George Sánchez-Calderón, Tavares Strachan, Wu Tsang and boychild, Agustina Woodgate and Rev. Houston R. Cypress.

‘Faena Festival: This is Not America’, was keyed to Miami’s enduring role as a port city  that welcomes migrants, refugees, and tourists from across the US and the Americas, and from countries throughout the world. The festival engaged with the multiplicity of communities and cultures and the palimpsest of histories that have created the Americas while responding specifically to Miami as a hemispheric hub.

‘This is Not America’ addressed ‘America’ as concept more than a place, a contested and powerful idea that is greater than the waters and borders that frame it. Artists were invited to explore the concept of America as a myth and a narrative that has at times bound and divided us but ultimately has the power to unify. By occupying the interstitial zone between land and sea many of these site-specific installations reimagined porous and transitional spaces as places of refuge and safe harbor that are representative of what our ‘America’ is and can become.

Works in the festival reflected the continuities and changes across the Americas—from South to North—based on shared histories and the interchange of contemporary cultures.

The festival proposed a new curatorial format that took place throughout the Faena district and the city of Miami Beach, and insisted upon reimagining preconceived notions about geopolitical definitions of space and culture.

In keeping with this theme, the festival traveled to Buenos Aires in April 2019 --- where a new version was presented that included three additional Argentine artists: Martin Legon, Fernando Rubio and Amalia Ullman; and occupied and intervened multiple public spaces throughout the city and responded in kind to the specific social and cultural context of Argentina. In addition to the Faena Art Center, Faena Hotel and public ares of the district, the exhibition intervened Plaza de la República, Sociedad Rural Argentina in collaboration with arteBA, and Plaza Seeber in collaboration with Semana del Arte.

 
 

 
 

ARTISTS

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DERRICK ADAMS

America’s Playground, December 2018
Site specific installation at Faena Miami Beach

In his installation for Faena Beach’s “This Is Not America”, Adams drew on the history and urban development of Miami in the Jim Crow era—especially in relation to the inextricable links between race, real estate, ownership, law, and development and urban planning. By transposing two neighborhoods (Overtown and Mid-Beach), both of which have been transformed by modernism and development, Adams drew parallels that might otherwise be hidden and makes visible an often ignored history of Miami.

 

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MIYA ANDO

Sora Versailles, December 2018
Site specific mesh wrap at Faena Versailles (Miami Beach)

Miya Ando was commissioned to create a large-scale work to transform the iconic Versailles hotel. Sora Versailles was her response to the building’s history. By wrapping one of Miami’s most iconic buildings in clouds, the work was both a memorial for its role as a place for the convalescence of the US soldiers during WW2 as well as an homage to the building’s original architect Roy France’s design philosophy of “let in the air and sun”.


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CECILIA BENGOLEA

La Danza de la Esponja. Philosophy of Joy. Favorite position, December 2018
Video Installation and Performance at Faena Forum Miami Beach

La Danza de la Esponja, 2019
Video Installation and Performance at Sociedad Rural Argentina (Buenos Aires)

Bengolea’s choreography hinges on the intersection of the sacred and profane, along with the interpolation of bodies, light, video and animation, towards a new kind of corporeal slang for the creation of new dialogue. Converting the Forum and La Rural into contemporary temples, the choreography was an embodied language that became the memory, the archive, and a proposal for the future—a dance of hybrid bodies transitioning between the spiritual and the physical.


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ALFREDO JAAR

A Logo for America, 1987 / December 2018
Public intervention on the water

A Logo for America, 1987 / April 2019
Public intervention on a billboard

The piece was presented on an LED jumbotron mounted on a boat navigating the Miami Beach shoreline. The monumental, text-and-and-image-based animated work, originally commissioned by The Public Art Fund, featured the text “This is Not America” emblazoned across an outline map of the US that morphed into an outline of the entire western hemisphere from a variety of perspectives, including from South to North, challenging the traditional view of the geopolitical makeup of the America.

Presented for the first time in South America in a public space in a classic advertising billboard at Plaza de la República in Buenos Aires, the gesture recalled the way the work was originally presented on an electronic advertising screen in Times Square in New York.


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ISABEL LEWIS

An Occasion (“classic occasion” excerpts 2014-2018), December 2018
Performance at Faena Forum Miami Beach

Una ocasión organizada por Isabel Lewis, April 2019
Performance at Faena Art Center Buenos Aires

Isabel Lewis hosted an occasion, a celebratory gathering of things, people, plants, dances and scent, that took place both in the Faena Forum amphitheater and in Sala Molinos in Faena Art Center Buenos Aires. Lewis unfolded a specific dramaturgy attuned to her guests and their energies shaping a live experience using choreography, music, spoken address, and storytelling in ways that allow for conversation, contemplation, dancing, listening, or just simply being. She created an aesthetic situation that moved beyond the merely visual where the entire human sensorium was addressed. Lewis posed the question of how to live a good and flourishing life in tempestuous times and proposed the figures of the lover, the dancer, and the gardener as guides on this quest. Lewis was joined in the performances by local dancers.


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LUNA PAIVA

A Matter of Time, December 2018
Site specific installation at Faena Miami Beach

Monoblock Chairs and Totem, April 2019
Public intervention at Semana del Arte, Plaza Seeber, Buenos Aires.

A Matter of Time was an immersive environment at Faena Miami Beach that allowed viewers to move within the remnants of a typical home or cabin—the bronze left overs memorialized: a chimney, plastic picnic chairs, curtains and carpet. The shimmering objects were outside of time, a threshold between past and future, a reflection on the quickly fading symbols and mythology that surrounds the “American Dream”.

Monoblock Chairs and Totem were presented in Buenos Aires in an almost religious format, such as the contents of a shipwreck, or what remains after an apocalyptic storm, imbued with a new monumental spirituality and historical significance.


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FERNANDO RUBIO

“Cuando hablamos de amor”, April 2019
Performance at Faena Hotel Buenos Aires

In Cuando Hablamos de Amor, a sketch of long-lasting philosophical performance among people who were attracted, the artist Fernando Rubio invited the Brazilian actress Laura Limp, her former partner and mother of her son, to be the body and action of this work, to maximize the revision on the forms of love and bonds understanding that a deep search on the mystery and questions about how to love can be linked to the possibility of observing together the infinite world of possible relationships. Together with an Argentine actress, they activated two mirrored rooms of Faena Hotel, living everyday experiences, almost mundane, in which the guests experienced "solo theater" or an intimate performance with one of the actresses.


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GEORGE SÁNCHEZ-CALDERÓN

How to Win Friends and Influence People, December 2018

Site specific installation, ritual burn, and performance at Faena Miami Beach

Given the recent fires in California, the house became a symbol of displacement, a ritual healing, and reminder of the intertwined relationship between urban development and climate change. The house was set ablaze on December 4th, a day associated with Saint Barbara, who in Yoruba traditions in Cuba is syncretized with the orisha Changó (Shangó), God of thunder, lightning and war.


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TAVARES STRACHAN

We Belong Here, December 2018
Site specific installation at Faena Miami Beach

Tavares Strachan was commissioned to create a site-specific neon piece for the Faena District Miami Beach, We Belong Here. The phrase was both an affirmation and a veiled question. In its explicit referencing of the iconic neon signage of Miami’s deco drive, the work was a reclamation of belonging that asked us to reimagine how we define place – and this place in particular.


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WU TSANG AND BOYCHILD
featuring Larry B

Love Is A Rebellious Bird, December 2018
Performance at Faena Theater Miami Beach

Love is a Rebellious Bird was a performance in two acts, exploring some of the many overlapping legacies of cabaret and drag. Combining elements of science fiction, opera, and golden era Hollywood, the performance was staged in the iconic Faena Theater Miami Beach (designed in collaboration with the filmmakers of Romeo+Juliet). This project continued Tsang and boychild’s ongoing collaboration, which explores the relationship between live and cinematic realms. This performance occured at the intersection of two long-term projects: a long-term feature film which was a ‘docufantasy’ about the performance artist boychild and the first in a series studies of Carmen. This new performance-film project pointed to the tensions of colonialism, diaspora and “otherness” particularly within the context of Miami’s opulence and decadence.


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AGUSTINA WOODGATE AND REV. HOUSTON R. CYPRESS

Flow, December 2018
Land Acknowledgment at Faena Miami Beach

Agustina Woodgate and Rev. Houston R. Cypress proposed a currency for Abya Yala—the name given to these lands by the Kuna people of Panama and Colombia being used in contemporary parlance across diverse indigenous communities as a name for America. This conceptual project was based on each artists investigations together and separately into decolonizing currency, addressing the effects of urban development on our lands and the climate, the nature of national identity and how it pertains both to the graphic design of banknotes (for example the queen of England appears in at least six banknotes from across the Americas) as well the macro economics of creating currencies, communities and the economy. Simultaneous to these more practical concerns, the work insisted upon indigenous land acknowledgement, new communal modes of investigation, shared forms for creating and alternative systems of time and exchange.


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VARIOUS ARTISTS

Video And Film Series, December 2018
Screening Room at Faena Hotel Miami Beach

Video And Film Series, December 2018
Screening Ballroom at Faena Hotel Buenos Aires

From Boris Mitić’s This is Not Nothing–an impressionistic collection of documentary shots of ‘Nothing’ from around the world, and Ana Teresa Fernández’s Borrando la Frontera (Erasing the Border), documentation of her performance effectively eliminating the metal partitions of the Mexican border wall by painting them the color of the sky; to Cecilia Bengolea’s Lightning Dance, a video work that transposes both the profanity and sanctity of the dancing body alongside the spirituality and power of the natural world and Wu Tsang’s Wildness, an award-winning documentary about the Silver Platter, a historic bar that is home to Latinx and immigrant transgender communities in Los Angles; from Eugene Jarecki’s Promised Land, a kaleidoscopic journey shot while crossing the USA in Elvis Presley’s 1963 Rolls Royce, and finally to Joseph Beuys’ seminal piece I Like America and America Likes Me, documentation of a performance where he spent several days with a coyote inside a New York gallery – a confrontation with the spirit and symbol of America which Beuys has been quoted as saying represented “the schism between native intelligence and European mechanistic, materialistic and positivistic values,” or a symbolic reconciliation between modern American society, the natural world, and Native American culture; the works in this video series, as well as the special screenings of full-length feature films Once Upon a Nothing by Boris Mitić, and The King by Eugene Jarecki, explored the multiplicity of narratives and myths, the mosaic of colors and images, the polyphonic cacophony that  would seek to define ‘America.’