Art Basel

From ‘forgotten land’ to the land of Oz: Welcome to the Faena Forum

Miami collective art expression take the streets

In a pre-Basel event, Tide by Side took to the streets in a artistic representation of Miami's colorful diverse music and performance expressions on Sunday, November 27, 2016.
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In a pre-Basel event, Tide by Side took to the streets in a artistic representation of Miami's colorful diverse music and performance expressions on Sunday, November 27, 2016.

There were lots of civic and development glitterati and mutual congratulations for the official opening of the Faena Forum on Monday night, the centerpiece of the cultural program at the Faena District Miami Beach on Collins Avenue.

Musicians from the New World Symphony played a grandiose fanfare as Alan Faena, billionaire backer Len Blavatnick, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Forum executive director Ximena Caminos, and architects Rem Koolhaas and Shohei Shigematsu lined up across the stairway of the column-shaped Forum to greet the champagne-sipping crowd.

"I feel like the mayor in the Wizard of Oz," said Levine, referring to his pride in helping convert what people involved in the Faena project keep calling an "empty" area (and not, apparently, to Alan Faena's Dorothy-esque glittering gold shoes) and saying that everyone there was like the munchkins in the movie.

"Creative genius doesn't exist without business genius," said Blavatnick, who was wearing a striped shirt that made him the most underdressed man there (after sweatshirt and sneaker clad composer Arto Lindsay, who has only his artistic brilliance to sustain him). "But business genius needs creative genius."

Koolhaas thanked his collaborators for "shifting the world's center of gravity to 33rd Street" while Shigematsu, noting the windy evening, assured people that the Forum's facade was hurricane resistant.

Faena, meanwhile, amply returned Blavatnick's praise.

"It's incredible to realize this land was a forgotten land … and only one person realized what it could be," he said. "A visionary — my partner Len. We fought every day to convert that emptiness and darkness into the light."

Blavatnick clipped the ribbon, but as the crowd started streaming upward, they were stymied by a squadron of black-clad Cuban conga dancers (from Cuban artist group Los Carpinteros) dancing backward down the staircase. Miami Beach's munchkins had to wait a little bit longer before they entered Faena's cultural light.

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