The monumental contemporary art fair Art Basel Miami Beach, which attracts major collectors from around the world until December 4 in sunny Florida, reflects more the image of a temple of the ultra-rich than that of ‘a place where commitment and representativeness dominate. However, in institutions as in the art market, the question of diversity has become unavoidable in recent years, with, in particular, a craze for the work of black artists. The pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement have again shifted lines.
“The Covid forced the United States to recognize the road that remained to be traveled before we have something that approaches racial justice,” analyzes the American Marc Spiegler, director of Art Basel. Both victims and those who worked to keep the company running were more black or brown than white. Some whites have understood what it was like to be black in the United States.
The situation led us to rethink how we operate and to understand that, to change the situation, we needed more gallery owners of color in our fairs. And especially in the United States, where there are many black gallery owners. We approached it and removed obstacles, such as having to wait two or three years to apply. It is the start of a necessary change. ”
A gallery-like that of Kendra Jayne Patrick, in New York, which sold to large collections and museums but did not have a permanent gallery, is thus present, with the work of the young textile artist Qualeasha Wood, who explores her identity. of black women through tapestries.
Nicola Vassell, who has worked for Jeffrey Deitch and Pace, and has just opened her own gallery in New York, is also in the Nova section, devoted to young galleries. Franco-Somali Mariane Ibrahim, who opened her gallery in Chicago in 2019, is in the main section of the fair. The young woman presents the Ghanaian painter Amoako Boafo, who deconstructs black figuration rather than making it attractive.
Echoes of colonial history, racial or identity issues, and environmental themes are also at the heart of the Meridians section, which hosts a selection of very large-format works, with artists such as the Brazilian Maxwell Alexandre and his presentations. aby my museums, or the British-Nigerian Yinka Shonibare and his impressive staircase climbed by figures evoking the exodus of millions of African-Americans from the countryside of the South to the cities of the North or the West in the XXe century.