Art Basel: Art Stars of the World Ignite!

CONTEXT Sparks a Frenzied Firestorm

The story is as solid as it is elusive. It’s also the kinda 21st century fairy tale that fuels much of the modern world. At its core is a big, bright idea. To its happy end lies ubiquity. In its favor? Timing, savvy, luck, talent, vision and drive. There’s even a touch of courage involved; the kind favored by the bold. As well as a good dose of wile. In sum, a story composed from all of the many wonders which turn a big, bright idea into a bona fide worldwide phenomenon.

Yep, you guessed it, we mean the global art star, the best and most famous of which begins as a notion and grows into a brand. Whether they admit to liking it or not. And yes, we mean that serial provocateur known by the name of Banksy; undoubtedly the most famously infamous of the lot. More importantly though, and most of all, we mean the one spot where the hottest of the current crop of art stars are blowing it up this Basel. That scorching new creation called CONTEXT.

At 50,000 square feet and featuring a line-up that spans from Banksy “Out of CONTEXT” to the seven-member “Art in Berlin”, CONTEXT is a considerable addition to the esteemed Art Miami. It’s also incredibly with-it. In fact, you could also say that CONTEXT takes its 23-year-old parent Fair to the not-so-secret space where all the cool kids hang out. Problem with that though is CONTEXT happens to be that not-so-secret space, and the de facto parents not only came up with the big, bright idea in the first place; they made it a reality. And if the all-out buzz about town is any indication, there’s more than enough timing, savvy, luck, talent, drive and vision to ensure CONTEXT will indeed become a worldwide phenomenon.

Of course Art Miami director Nick Korniloff, who also helms Art Wynwood and Art Southampton, is no stranger to worldwide phenomena. Nor is he unfamiliar with the many factors involved in creating such a sensation from scratch. It was Korniloff who concocted the idea of CONTEXT, and it was he who decided an adjacent satellite fair dedicated to emerging artists and gallerists would make for an explosive component to the already revered Art Miami. And yes, it was Korniloff who banked on bringing in Banksy for the launch.

To be fair to the Fair though, CONTEXT’s assured success will in the end be attributed to the talented team Korniloff and his inner circle assembled to create this most singular sensation. A team that from the get was determined to out-wow the whole wild world this Miami Art Week. That Miami Art Week would already be wall-to-wall with those who going to extreme and extraordinary measures to be ever more wowful only made the creators of CONTEXT all the more determined.

To prove the high and mighty point SunPost sat down with Art Miami/CONTEXT Chief Curator Julia Dragonovic, who’s been with Art Miami for the past three seasons and whose own prowess has proven to be a sorta singular sensation itself. Here the keen-eyed curator takes us in and outta CONTEXT.

What exactly is your role in CONTEXT anyway?

I’m covering the same role as for Art Miami, being the Chief Curator. It is my colleague and co-founder of the collective LaRete Art Projects, Claudia Löffelholz, with whom I’m mainly working on the Curators’ Choice for CONTEXT, but also on the video show. We are very proud that we were able to receive loans from major institutions among which you find the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Mudam Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg, the Migros Museum from Zurich or the Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf.

How do you see CONTEXT fitting into the overall scheme of things?

To open CONTEXT was just due. Art Miami has grown so much in the last year and singling out a series of young or experimental galleries to show in their own location, seemed almost logical, especially after the request of the Berlin Gallery Association to present themselves at Art Miami. I believe it will be mutually beneficial for both the collectors who are veteran clients of Art Miami and are seeking to go beyond and see something fresh and for the circle of galleries who are presenting their cutting edge and emerging artists at Art Miami.

Is there a particular CONTEXT component that proved to be especially daunting?

Haha, for us curators the big challenge was to plan for a space that does not exist yet. Furthermore, we believed to have much more room for our curatorial project – we just didn’t take into consideration that this new fair would be so quickly overrun by galleries eager to participate!

Is there a particular CONTEXT component that you’re especially excited about?

There a lot of galleries I’m working with for the first time – I’ve already made a lot of discoveries and can’t wait to see what else they will showcase. There are others I know already and which came up with great projects: I’m very curious to see what Alex Arrechea is planning for Park Avenue in Spring 2013 – his New York gallery MagnanMetz will dedicate a solo booth to this project at CONTEXT. Regarding the curatorial projects, I’m always glad about the opportunity to dedicate space and time to video art and about the fair direction’s passion and generosity to enable a research on new media. I believe that this kind of commitment to present cutting edge video works, whose quality has in a way already been confirmed by entering great collections, is a singularity in the international fair scene!

Another composite of the curatorial program I’m especially excited about is the show presented by our guest curator Nick Cohn. He called his show “Social Structures” and works on the relationship between urban and social systems. We (the LaRete Art Projects team) have all very different expertises regarding our curatorial approaches and we are nurturing our intellectual needs with the mutual input among the various team members. (Elena has a profound knowledge of the classical modern, Claudia and I are very much interested in social practices and I infected both of them with my passion for video art and all kind of new artistic strategies). It will be the first time to work with Nick Cohn, but from our conversations and the pieces he proposes in his show I already know that we will take a lot of inspiration from his work.

If you had but a sentence or three to sum up what’s in store for folks this year (for both Art Miami and CONTEXT), what might you say?

You will find those discoveries you came looking for in the previous years, but on top of that you will have the opportunity to may find the “unexpected” at CONTEXT. Check out the curatorial projects of CONTEXT and Art Miami; we had a wider array of proposals this year, and there are ambitious projects like never before.

CONTEXT Art Miami is located at 3101 NE 1st Ave Midtown, adjacent to Art Miami. Both Fairs run through December 9th. For more information log on to

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