Out of the Closet in Miami: Shirts, Robes, and Sweaters As Art


Compared to Art Basel Miami Beach a few dozen blocks to the south, NADA's more the "downtown" fair — downtown in both the traditional sense of the word, meaning Manhattan's Lower East Side, where many of these galleries are located back in New York, and the new, metaphoric sense, extending along the L train and then continuing on, with express stops in East London, West Paris, and East Berlin, and anywhere else a clever young man can sport a scruffy beard, sallow complexion, and normcore eyeglasses and still get laid above his genetic station. As a shopping, dining, and dating aesthetic, it's very much up my alley, and that goes to its art curation, too, since it's the fair where I actually know some of the gallerists and artists who show there from my life outside of writing about art and hanging out at art fairs.

NADA takes place at the Deauville Resort, which is one of those mammoth cruise-ship-run-aground hotel complexes in Miami, built in the 1950s and gone slightly to seed. It's many blocks north from the main fair and is a nice comedown after its oligarchic aura of holy-object self-seriousness. People at NADA seem to be having a good time. You can find things like Graham Collins's bronze cast sculptures of salty snacks (potato chips, what looked like Fritos; for some reason it reminded me of the petrified remains of the everyday of an abruptly lost civilization; Williamsburg's Journal Gallery had them), as well as Andy Coolquitt's oddly moving diorama of antiperspirant bottles (at Lisa Cooley, whose HQ is on the LES).

That said, NADA's informality seems to create its own anti-seriousness enforcement mechanisms and social codes. There can be a vague feeling that some of what you see there is just casting about, a suspiciously lazy determination to invest the everyday with profound (if deadpan) meaning. Which is why I kept wondering at all of the items of clothing that were on display as art in so many of the booths. Is making art out of, or what looks like, shirts, robes, and sweaters a trend? Sure seemed like it. I have no explanation for it in terms of why. But lots of booths could have doubled as closets.

And so, herewith, a slideshow of the #NadaArtWardrobe. Hashtag is mine.