A particularly attractive video from Israeli Dana Levy also gets its own section. The Fountain is a quiet, almost colorless track of a tree being uprooted and pulled out from a misty lake. The metaphorical meaning is not hard to read, especially when it is immediately clear that the tree and the lake are not part of any Israeli landscape we recognize; it is an old, Romantic Europe.
Some artists with Florida connections are also well represented here. Former Miami resident Wendy Wischer has a lovely installation called Puddled. Projected on several resin splotches sitting on the floor are slow-moving, hypnotic images of clouds and birds. Instead of the classic notion of lying on the ground and watching the clouds roll by across a bright blue sky, this time we are looking down to the floor, in a very dark room, to see the reflection of this process in artificial puddles.
Broward-based Samantha Salzinger makes up environments in her manipulated landscape photographs. They look incredibly real, but they are not. Here is a tornado touching down in South Dakota — not. There is a lush, tropical-forest floor oozing with dew — completely fabricated. Who has conquered what here?
Blane De St. Croix has the biggest sculpture in the show, a hanging replica of a muddy but also burned Everglades. Water and fire are natural elements that continually shape our River of Grass, but here the miniature model is formed from synthetic materials as well some actual earth.
Another mesmerizing sculpture comes from Israeli Guy Zagursky: in a little, simple wooden box, you can see the universe, expanding infinitely. Of course, it’s an entirely fake universe. Fellow countryman Boaz Aharonovitch also depicts a version of the cosmos, in a wild, exploding form, collaged from photo-shopped satellite images.
And hovering in the back, almost always present no matter where you stand in the Bass space, is the sperm whale, swimming around in his close quarters, a magnificent and tragic symbol of our attempts to manage nature. (After being hunted almost to extinction, this whale is now a protected species).
These are just some of the works in this show. There is so much here, around every corner, that it is hard to take in on one visit. Something that may have missed your eye the first time will jump out on the second go-8round.
Combined with the superb Rashid Johnson solo show that just opened at MAM, Miami can be confident that this season is kicking off with serious, quality institutional exhibits that would be winners in any cultural hub.