“Art is the pulse of a nation.” --Gertrude Stein
...And so too it felt, if that nation were Miami during Miami Art Week/Art Basel 2016; PULSE of course being the operative word. Los Bandidos attended PULSE Art Fair’s Opening Brunch on Thursday 01 Dec 2016 and while we hate to play favorites amongst all of the venues that make Miami dazzle during these frantic and fabulous few days, we might be inclined to say, in retrospect, that PULSE made the top of our list.
PULSE Contemporary Art Fair, founded in 2005, is a fixture on the international art calendar as it showcases emerging and established galleries to a global audience. The 2016 Miami Beach iteration of the fair was no exception in its universal scope, showcasing over 70 galleries and 200 artists from around the globe. In addition, the fair gives new talent a home with ~25% of exhibitors being first-timers. At its flagship location in Indian Beach Park PULSE welcomes diversity and presents itself as a venue to promote dialogue about the modern contemporary art space both past, present and future. The show was bifurcated into a North Tent, featuring established galleries with multi-artist shows and a South Tent, which hosted solo exhibitions eligible for the PULSE Prize and “Conversations”, a select group of dual-artist shows.
Everything left an impression that there was forethought and care placed into the organization and execution of the fair. It may seem like a moot point, however I would argue that the subtle details of layout, a “feng shui” if you want to call it that, are both subliminally and visually recognized. By comparison, I found other fairs (that shall remain nameless) to display pieces in claustrophobic and dizzying spaces as though you might as well be walking through some sort of a bazaar amongst the bizarre. PULSE had wonderful open spaces perfect for sharing reflections with your compadres or mingling with the hoi polloi. In addition, the beachfront cafe lent itself perfectly to viewing Miami’s crown jewel whilst digesting all the artwork (a croissant or 3.) PULSE is the kind of venue where you can actually walk away having had a meaningful experience and having gathered some foreshadowing about the future of the contemporary art world.
While PULSE stood out for innumerous reasons, its representation of female artists was impressive (and probably shouldn’t even be something that has to be emphasized by now.) The curation is no accident and comes from the top. In an article detailing the predominance of female artists at PULSE, director Helen Toomer describes it as “no accident.” “I think it’s really important to support and work with women. I just think that should be the norm,” Toomer elaborated. Particularly buzzworthy was Zoe Buckman’s Champ, a neon-pink uterus inspired light sculpture complete with boxing gloves as ovaries; a real knockout that was created as part of a series reacting against protests to Planned Parenthood. In addition, the “sticker art” of Chinese artist Ye Hongxing whose giant mandala-inspired pieces are like puffy-sticker mosaics, caught our eye. Apart from the tediousness of creating her work the pieces are also impressive from both near and far.
Being based in Miami, Los Bandidos would also like to commend PULSE on their continued collaboration with Miami-based cultural organizations like The Knight Foundation and The National YoungArts Foundation. PULSE Miami Beach also expressed a strong sense of corporate and social responsibility by partnering with the Miami chapter of Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on the preservation of our beaches and oceans, for an official beach clean-up. Thanks for that, PULSE, because as a local I can say it can feel frustrating to have people come trash our Magic City and leave without picking up after themselves. Finally, PULSE, in conjunction with Morgan Stanley, hosted Miami Mornings, giving Miami-Dade residents free entry from 10am-12pm on the Saturday & Sunday of Basel.
With that said, admittedly this article is a bit overdue, but comes on the heels of a fresh announcement out of the PULSE camp. Apparently, PULSE loves Miami just as much as WE love you. PULSE announced that they will be cancelling their New York art fair in favor of focusing its efforts solely on PULSE Miami Beach for 2017. The upcoming fair will be held from Thursday 07 December - Sunday 10 December 2017.
In addition, PULSE has already been focusing its efforts on intimate events and talk series staged outside of the typical art fair realm. As a result, the fair has officially announced its PULSE 360 program, launching in 2017, which will offer year-round programming for, as PULSE explains, “a select community of members who are actively engaged and interested in the dialogue surrounding the intersection of art, culture and commerce.” PULSE 360 will be an invite-only program and provide exclusive invites to events hosted by PULSE and its partners (not to mention VIP entry to next year’s PULSE Miami Beach shindig.)
PULSE is forward-looking and pragmatic whilst also provoking imagination, inspiration and the furthering of the art world as a whole with its global presence. As we close out the year, witnessing PULSE’s evolution gives us just one more thing to look forward to in 2017 (and let us know how we can contribute to the PULSE360 program ;)! )