Satellite: The Miami Art Fair for Artists

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Geographically Bipolar

Satellite Miami is a Challenging, Friendly, Interactive Space for Artists and Those Who Love Them by Cara Ober

Art fairs are for collectors. Art fairs are for curators. Art fairs are for the artists exhibiting at them, so that they can entertain the collectors and curators, but fairs are typically not welcoming to other artists. It makes sense: most galleries make the majority of their annual income during these few days and are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to participate. They simply cannot afford to use their even more valuable resource (time) on artists who want to ask questions, hang out, and not buy any art. We get it. Time is money and, in the case of Art Basel Miami fairs, the expense is tripled and quadrupled, just like the cost of Miami hotel rooms this week.

Despite the cost, Art Basel #FOMO is real; every year more and more artists attend Miami art fairs, partly to conduct research on contemporary art and partly to take cool photos with art and palm trees to make their friends jealous. And if you’re going to make the trip, you might as well actively participate and Instagram only goes so far. It was this sense of DIY participation that inspired the first Satellite Art Show, which was housed in 2015 in a derelict hotel with no air conditioning in North Beach, but was a beach stroll from NADA at The Deauville Hotel. That year, a few different Baltimore galleries and organizations participated and I wish they would again!

According to the Satellite founding team (Brian Andrew Whitely, Alex Paik, Jesse Bandler Firestone, Quinn Dukes, and Anna Lisa Benston) the fair was created for “young dealers, artist-run spaces and non-profits to exhibit during Miami Art Week.” Since 2015, the fair has been housed in different locations and been realized in a number of ways, but it’s consistently seen as the MOST FUN and FRIENDLY fair during Miami Basel week and this year was no different.

Housed in a fenced parking lot next to NADA at the Ice Palace Recording Studios in Wynwood,  this year’s iteration was different because each curated project was realized inside a shipping container. Some of the spaces felt a little undernourished, but, for the most part, each was delightfully unique and personable. Some functioned like mini-movie houses, others like a lounge; some felt like you were inside a trailer while others functioned like a bar. This year, Satellite offered a carnival-like atmosphere with giant inflatable sculptures, bubble machines, and the smell of french fries wafting from a poutine food truck, which enhanced a sense of adventure and made the gravelly parking lot seem exotic.

There is a sense of purity, of rawness, and a disdain for the art market, so it felt a lot like Baltimore, where creative swagger and weirdness are elevated as an art form in itself. Sometimes you come to Miami for art fairs and you end up fatigued and a little depressed about the rampant commercialism of the art market; Satellite is a respite from all of that and reminds you why artists make art in the first place.

The Trump Rat made an appearance, but people weren’t paying him much attention. That’s probably a good thing and makes sense in a nation exhausted by the daily asinine comments of 45. Personally, the less of this guy I see the better and, for the most part, there were few references to him at any of the fairs.

The Dream House Trailer is a hot pink Barbie dream–or nightmare, depending on your aesthetics and psychological damage suffered in childhood. For parents who want to avoid Disney Land, this could have been it’s cheaper, trashier cousin; a barbie dream house realized at human scale in a trailer.

Spicy Curtain’s space was one of my favorites, and not just because the bartender offered me a shot of tequila upon entering. Part boudoir, bar, and a space to celebrate genetalia of all kinds, I thought this space was a hook-up sequence in fast forward under a magnifying glass. I liked it.

Poutine and Bubbles! Even the vegans were happy.

Bret Wallace’s Amazing Industries space was amazing to me, in that it offered a perfect replica of the generic but well-designed swag that all types of industries use to promote, yet it also completely acknowledged its own presence in a shipping container. There was no attempt to disguise or transform the trailer into something different, yet the beanbag chairs, squishy stress balls, flags, printed tapestries, stickers, periodicals, and even beer were consistently earnest, yet tongue-in-cheek, because the attention to detail and a certain techy work aesthetic were so completely realized.

TANGA presented a stand-up comedy installation (left) and on the right, Arts + Crafts Research Studio presented To Hell With Culture: A Congregation of Wits was presented in book and animation form, which worked interchangeably well together. I think more artists should consider even simple animation sequences; it’s a great way to experience drawing, especially a series of drawings. When done well, as it was here, the movement and choreography of the animation echoes the aesthetics of the drawings. I stood here for a long time; it was poetic and beautiful.

Soft Power presented maximal works by Zandi Dandizette, Moody Rose, and Julia Sinelnikova, which reinforced each other when paired together. The painting was bold, quilt-like, and bursting with color while the installation felt like walking into a fairyland ice cave. Both had a magical quality.

This photo was hard to capture, as the texts disappears as you move. About Face, a series of photos with lenticular text by The Femocrats – Eva Mueller and Jana Astanov. Satellite was open until 11 pm every night and one aspect that was really fun about it was that each shipping container exhibit also functioned as a performance space for all types of acts.In a shipping container transformed into a weird basement with formica floors and faux wood paneled walls by Fountain of Pythons. If you ever wondered about receiving a golden shower, this photo,”Mirror” by Becky Flanders, captures it beautifully.

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