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A Futurist Evening at Vizcaya, December 7, 2013

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    Vizcaya Museum and Gardens’ Contemporary Arts Program (CAP) presented A Futurist Evening at Vizcaya on December 7, 2013, during Art Basel Miami Beach. Eight local artists and/of collaborations were commissioned to create site-specific, performance-based works for a one-night only exhibition. The artists’ works were installed throughout Vizcaya’s Main House and Gardens. More than 1,000 guests attended the event.

    A Futurist Evening at Vizcaya was inspired by the Futurist movement and its links to Vizcaya’s exhibition on view at that time, The Academic and Avant-Garde: Artists of the 1913 Armory Show at Vizcaya. Specifically, the evening of contemporary work took its lead from Futurist evenings held in Europe beginning in 1910, which were platforms for the Futurists to read their manifestos, recite poetry, display art and play experimental music. The Academic and Avant-Garde commemorated the centennial of the 1913 Armory Show by exploring the work by artists involved in Vizcaya who also exhibited at the legendary show. During Vizcaya’s making, the estate’s owner, James Deering, commissioned five artists to create site-specific work for his Miami home. A few years prior to their work in Miami, three of these artists exhibited in the Armory Show, where the Futurist movement was one of the more provocative and contemporary styles on view.

    The works commissioned for A Futurist Evening at Vizcaya celebrated the Futurist movement and explored Futurism in the context of the estate’s classical design and formal gardens. The Futurists and Vizcaya’s creators, although driven by opposing ideals and seeking different results, each found inspiration in the Italy of the early twentieth century—Futurism in its push to the future and Vizcaya in its embrace of the classical past.

    Commissioned artists/collaborations and their projects for A Futurist Evening at Vizcaya were:

    Robert Chambers and Mette Tommerup
    Putti Kiss

    In Putti Kiss, Chambers and Tommerup realized the iconoclastic ideals passionately proclaimed in Futurist manifestos. The artists employed traditional sculptural tools and materials such as chisels and plaster, as well as contemporary construction machinery to destroy and rebuild a classically inspired sculpture, transforming it into a Futurist-style interpretation inspired by Constantin Brâncusi’s iconic Kiss.

    Clifton Childree
    Viscaya, The Grand Scheme

    Childree’s early-1900s-style slapstick film Viscaya, The Grand Scheme imagines the plight of James Deering and his contemporaries during Vizcaya’s creation. At the screening, the audience was joined by a special guest—an aged Paul Chalfin,Vizcaya’s artistic director during the design and building of the house and gardens. Chalfin watched as the narrative unspooled, interrupting with his version of Vizcaya’s early history.

    Juraj Kojs, David Almeida, Kim Yantis, Hsia-Hua Liang and Angie Lu
    Replacement

    Replacement depicted the invasion of Vizcaya’s formal gardens by techno plants that infiltrated the grounds and spread intoxicating artificial materials. The plants communicated through electronic devices, creating sounds based on intonarumori, or Futurist noisemakers. The creatures slowly took over areas of the garden as the evening progressed.

    Susan Lee-Chun
    (Untitled) Ruins

    Lee-Chun referenced the classical sculptural forms and material sat Vizcaya in Untitled (Ruins), a hybrid piece that fused traditional elements with Futurist aesthetics. The resulting living sculpture melded ideologies, taking the form of ruins from which the artist’s limbs projected.

    Carlota Pradera, Glexis Novoa and Gustavo Matamoros
    Between Forms

    Between Forms brought literal movement to two iconic Futurist works, Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2 by Marcel Duchamp and Unique Forms of Continuity in Space by Umberto Boccioni, both of which incorporate strong stylistic elements intended to imply dynamism. An original score influenced by Futurist music accompanied the performance.

    David Rohn, Collaborative Group: “Homo-Sapiens” (Art for Evolution) with Danilo De La Torre
    In the Garden

    Just as many objects in Vizcaya’s collection are pastiches, combining eras, materials and origins, In the Garden joined diverse elements. The artists, dressed as eighteenth-century aristocrats, cycled through a series of events set in the gardens as they shredded history books, eviscerated stuffed animals, re-stuffed those same animals with the books’ shredded remains and then threw the animals into oblivion.

    Michelle Weinberg and Denise Delgado
    Free School: Disruptive Pattern in Literature and Art

    Weinberg and Delgado invited guests to participate in a lesson inspired by Futurist poetry and rhetoric in Free School. The class congregated in a tent-like room decorated—as were the instructors’ uniforms—with “dazzle patterns” inspired by those created by English Futurists and used to camouflage warships beginning in the First World War.

    Antonia Wright
    Suddenly We Jumped (Breaking the Glass Ceiling)
    A fusion of Futurist ideals and aesthetics informed Suddenly We Jumped. Wright focused on misogynist views expressed by the movement’s leaders, transforming the female body into a mechanized weapon to be catapulted into the air, breaking through actual—and symbolically metaphoric—glass ceilings. In so doing, she raised questions about the merciless, anti-female, weaponized industrialization of a Futurist world.

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