Was There a Dark Cloud Looming Over Miami? Or Was it All in Our Minds?
Gallerists, collectors, and art appreciators were fully aware of the dark cloud-- psychologically speaking-- looming over Miami during the recent art fairs. The ‘rain’ fell on Scope, Pulse, Bridge and other art fairs-- they fell on Art Basel Miami Beach as well. It was a psychological rain and with it came great concern and fear surrounding the stability of the current art market. The streets and busses were filled with rumors and dark predictions-- this collective voice of dissatisfaction blared throughout the length of the Miami fairs.
The ‘rain’ fell early on. Individuals fueled by optimism turned utterly pessimistic as the doubts of gallerists and their assistants became overly visible-- you could see the concern in their faces… in their eyes. While roaming the fairs I experienced several instances of gallery assistants looking at my collection of press passes as if I were some form of hope in an otherwise dismal situation. In their eyes I could see open questions, such as-- “Who does he write for?”, “Will he stop here?”, “Was this trip worth the cost?”. There was a foreboding sense of despair-- even at Art Basel Miami Beach. I don’t think any dealer or assistant was exempt from the realization of the cold market the art market has found itself in due to the struggles of the economy as a whole.
As the days went on it seemed that gallerists and their assistants were more focused on their next smoke break or social outing than the possibility of selling art. In fact, some seemed to have a great deal of struggle herding their help back to stable, so to speak. The question I found myself asking was-- “is it really that bad or has the aura of pessimism got the better of some individuals?”. Ironically, I did chance into a few conversations with buyers who were annoyed that upon finding a piece of interest there was no assistant/dealer on hand to negotiate with. One buyer confused my status and thought that I was an exhibitor--- upon telling her that my pass was a press pass she stormed away saying aloud, “How do they expect to sell if there is no one here to do it”. I smiled and continued on.
Based on my observations I would not say that Miami was a complete disappointment, but it could have certainly been a better experience for all involved. Each fair had similar problems--- marred by lack of traffic and studded by lackluster examples of poor work-- when compared to previous efforts. There was certainly a negative sense of energy taunting overhead. As you can tell my imagination rescued me from some of the boredom and helped me to fend off some of the drama.
Honestly, I felt as if I had walked into a collective performance piece exploring the failure of the current art market. My guess is that many had wished they were just a player in such a spectacle. However, the hard grasp of reality was ever present-- it could be heard in the words upon the street and seen in the eyes of those trying to push their wares. Miami was not a journey into the surreal-- it was a map of the situation the current art market is facing as a whole. Bitter truth for bitter times. When the final days came to a close it was all for the better.
So was there a dark cloud looming over Miami? Not really. It was simply a case of high hopes being drowned by hard facts. They say to always expect the unexpected--- that said, sometimes we must accept the expected for what it is. There will be brighter days ahead.
Take care, Stay true,