A major exhibition from famed Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. New shows highlighting key Cuban, Haitian and Brazilian artists. Projects by artists from Israel, Eastern Europe and the Middle East that explore migration and confrontation with authoritarianism.
After months of contentious discussion about its funding, its location and its name, the Perez Art Museum Miami is announcing the art that will fill the three-story museum in Bicentennial Park when it opens in late 2013. From overviews of art in the Americas to a miniature flotilla evoking Miami’s stream of sea-born migration, PAMM’s directors aim to simultaneously set the museum apart internationally and appeal to its home city with programming that makes a strong connection to Miami.
“You see a lot of U.S. museums with very similar programs, where you could be in Ohio or San Francisco,” says PAMM chief curator Tobias Ostrander. “We have to speak from a place and channel the specifics of that place. This is about showing the most cutting-edge art, the best quality of work that we can, but part of that is making choices about… how that will be relevant to people’s cultural traditions here and generate the most dialogue.”
The most attention-getting exhibit likely will be Ai Weiwei: According to What?, which opens in November 2013.The show, which is the first North American and first major international survey of the famous and influential dissident artist’s work, opened at Washington D.C.’s Hirschhorn Museum last fall and will travel to Indianapolis and Ontario before coming to Miami. Ai, who has collaborated with PAMM architects Herzog & de Meuron on the “Birds Nest” stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, will add new works for Miami, including a giant wall of Chinese bicycles named ‘Forever’ that were once the Communist country’s most-desired brand of transportation.
While China is a long way from South Florida, PAMM director Thom Collins says the issues reflected in Ai’s work will resonate for many in Miami. He says the same is true for an installation by Poland’s Monika Sosnowska, who deals with architecture and public space; video pieces from Israeli artist Yael Bartana, whose work deals with living in a militarized society; and Moroccan-born Bouchra Khalili, who looks at migration and identity.
“Globalization, migration, censorship in authoritarian regimes, economic change and instability, social change… these are global issues but also issues that one can address in ways that tie us directly to Miami,” says Collins. “This is a place that’s uniquely of its moment in terms of movement of populations, movement of capital, tensions about race and economic status. So how do we do shows that leverage unique aspects of Miami to speak about global issues?”
Hew Locke, a Guayanese-British artist whose installation For Those in Peril on the Sea, opening in December 2013, was commissioned by PAMM, hopes his fleet of miniature fishing boats, cargo ships and cruise liners will provoke strong feelings here.
“The migration in Miami gives this an added poignancy that it would not have in Britain,” said Locke on Thursday, inspecting the half-finished concrete walls of the gallery where his vessels will hang. “The real talk is not just about migration in a Miami context, but in a global context. Miami is part of a global family of migration, an example of a place people come looking for something better.”