Art Basel

13 things you better not miss at Basel

With so much art swirling around the downtown-Miami Beach axis this week, it’s hard to know where to start. This year, the art itself feels especially interesting --- and yes, even worth braving the traffic! Here are a few of our must-see choices.

But first, this survival tip: Get to the fairs early, park your car and take taxis or shuttles around town.

1.  Miami Project art fair, Northeast First Avenue at 29th Street, in Midtown; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, till 6 p.m. Sunday; $25.

In its second year, Miami Project is securing ground as the most-cutting edge fair without succumbing to sensationalist tendencies. The work feels fresh, different and exciting, yet the layout of the ubiquitous Art Week tent is orderly and easy to navigate. What might strike the visitor the most is the number of galleries from the Midwest and West -- another truly refreshing change from the East Coast- and Euro-centric rosters of almost all the other fairs. It’s a new and welcome voice added to the satellite fair universe.

2.  “A portrait of Marina Abramovic” 3D film installation by Matthu Placek, YoungArts campus in the Bacardi Jewel Box, 2100 Biscayne Blvd., downtown Miami; Free. Satuday 6 p.m. to 3 a.m., shown every 15 minutes.

This 15-minute experience is the first public opportunity to see inside the famed Bacardi Jewel Box. After taking a few minutes to check out the cathedral-like space, small groups of guests watch the eerie 3D film about Abramovic, the Yugoslavian-born performance artist, in a work that evokes emotional exploration.

3.  Artist Teresa Diehl, at Galerie Anita Beckers, B-203, Pulse Art Fair, Ice Palace Studios, 1400 N. Miami Ave., Miami; Julian Navarro Projects, E-40, CONTEXT Art Fair, 3201 NE First Ave., Midtown.

Cutouts of people in some form of anguish or mourning, carved out of white paper, dangle from a rotating mechanism on the ceiling, casting ghost-like shadows on the walls around. Revolution at Anita Beckers booth is Diehl’s homage to those who are losing their lives in war and violence, but keeping them in memory on the walls of this booth with their shadows. In an installation at Navarro Projects, she has set up a child’s wooden desk and chair with a video of a bird in flight projected on the desk, surrounded by more white paper cutouts, this time piles of text that read My Son Your Son. These are achingly beautiful works from an artist who resides in Miami but is mostly exhibited elsewhere, to our detriment.

4.  “ Appearing Rooms,” by Jeppen Hein, at Art Public, Collins Park in front of the Bass Museum, 2100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Free.

Jeppe Hein’s “Appearing Rooms,” at Art Public, turns serious adults into shrieking children. The interactive fountain shoots outer and inner walls of water into the air, with random breaks that allow the intrepid to dash in. “Enter at your own risk,” warns a sign, but a small splash is likely the worst fate.

5. “PISTON HEAD: Artists Engage the Automobile” exhibition sponsored by Ferrari, with Adam Lindemann’s Venus Over Manhattan gallery. 1111 Lincoln Road garage, Miami Beach. Free.

Given Miami’s car-crazed culture, it’s no wonder that Maserati, Jaguar and BMW have all brought art autos to town. For fans of street art and true piston heads, the exhibition inside the 1111 Lincoln garage offers a circle of nirvana, with cars embellished by Keith Haring, Richard Phillips, Kenny Scharf and Damien Hirst.

6.  Aziz + Cucher, at The Screening Room, 2626 NW Second Ave., Wynwood; 10 to 7 p.m. through Sunday, until 9 p.m. on Saturday; free.

Works of art relating to, or based on, architectural principles are evident everywhere this Art Basel week. Simple line sculptures, grid-like paintings and the temporary fair structures themselves reveal this underpinning. One of the best examples out there: Time of the Empress, a seven-screen video installation from the New York duo Aziz + Cucher. The black-and-white animated drawings of buildings rising and falling, in the process of construction and disintegration, are simply mesmerizing. At times during the imploding of the structures, the swirling debris looks like insects swarming over the remains, the only things left existing. The video is both a universal take on decay and regeneration, and a very appropriate installation for our Miami.

7.  “Once Everything Was Much Better, Even the Future,” kinetic sculpture by Nir Hod at Paul Kasmin Gallery, booth A5, at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 1901 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach; open noon to 8 on Saturday, noon to 6 Sunday. Tickets: $42 for one day; from 4 p.m., $32; students and seniors, $26.

This glowing “snow” globe filled with floating specs of 24 carat gold and a moving oil derrick is visually arresting. The question evoked by this allusion to progress past feels starkly relevant in an age when technological change is both blessing and curse.

8.  Humans Since 1982, at Victor Hunt Designart Dealer, at Design Miami (Meridian Avenue and 19th Street, Miami Beach, $25 admission).

This cluster of 24 coaster-sized white clocks seems to be merely decorative. Their stark black hands point here and there, with no seeming connecting to the time of day. But step back and the art becomes clear: Combined, their hands form a broken pattern of digits -- 20:30 on this publicity photo taken at 8:30 p.m. The effect mirrors that of a digital clock, told in analog style. Created by Humans Since 1982, a Swedish design outfit, the piece is part of a collection on display at Victor Hunt that creates art out of clock arrangements. You’ll end up spending more than a few minutes enjoying it.

(While you’re there, don’t miss Mangue Groove, this year’s Swarovski Palace installation by Brazilian architect Guilherme Torres.’’

9.  neugerriemschneider booth, C15, Art Basel in Miami Beach (info above).

Several galleries this year turned to well known artists and architects to design their booths. Among them are Gmurynska (B5), which commissioned architect Richard Meier to design its booth, featuring an exhibition of Meier’s own collages. At the center of the Art Nova section, Miami artists Naomi Fisher and Jim Drain’s “Paradise Untitled Lounge” is a whimsical, pungent bit of Miami fantasy, a green, palm-leaf refuge from the fair’s relentless focus on product and sales; featuring a variety of only-in-Miami performances. Also striking is the booth of Berlin’s neugerriemschneider. Designed by Spanish artist Jorge Pardo, the booth includes works by a range of top artists. It’s also a great place to rest your feet.

10.  “No Fakers,” video installation by Cameron Gray, Mike Weiss Gallery at Art Miami, 30th Street and Midtown Boulevard in Midtown. Tickets: $30. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday;

The 27-screen video installation features a seven-minute loop that recalls an LSD flashback -- or at least your idea of one. The presentation -- including a live “couch potato’’ whose brain is fried by too much screen time, is humorous and obvious. But the impression lasts.

(While you’re there, check out Manuel Merida’s kinetic sand-filled disks in the Meyer Zafra space.

11.  MA2 Gallery, Pulse Art Fair, C-306, Pulse Art Fair, Ice Palace Studios, 1400 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., till 5 p.m. Sunday; $25.

The massive amount of art exhibited at fairs this week can make your eyes blur, and your memory, too. But you won’t forget the solo project from Ken Matsubara at this Tokyo gallery. Out of mirrors, cabinets, and most intriguingly, a number of glasses seemingly filled with water sitting on stools, video-generated images pop up. These images are activated by you, when you look into these objects. In one glass an antique photo from a family album almost magically appears; you move on from there being transported into an intimate world far away from the fair hype.

12. “Curiosity,” by the duo known as Kolkoz, 3501 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne. Noon to 10 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Free.

Imagine a crackling fire inside a snow-capped Swiss chalet, floating gently in the azure waters off Marine Stadium. What’s wrong with this picture? Where to start, but that (of course) is the point of this inflatable creation by Kolkoz on Virginia Key. Open to the public and free, “Curiosity” is a 40,000-square-foot temporary cabin, with pretend snow on the roof and a faux fireplace with speakers emitting a crackling sound. Sponsored by the Swiss watch maker Audemars Piguet.

13.  28 Chinese” at the Rubell Family Collection, 95 NW 29th St., Miami.

Our must-see list is usually reserved for ephemera that disappears after this weekend. But while you’re in the neighborhood, take the time to see this remarkable show, the result of 11 years of travel to China by Don and Mera Rubell, who were instrumental in bringing the Basel fair to Miami. The works are full of tension -- between individual and society, tradition and modernity, surprising or hidden interiors with their exteriors; dense with details and ideas, visually rich -- and sometimes stunning. Among the standouts are Zhu Jinshi’s “Boat,” a giant hanging tunnel-like construction of 8,000 pieces of rice paper suspended on bamboo and string; He Xiangyu’s “Death of Marat ,” a precisely realistic fiberglass sculpture of famed dissident artist Ai Wei Wei prone on the gallery floor; and He Xiangyu’s “Cola Project,” a floor-to-ceiling case of empty Coca-Cola bottles, produced by boiling down 127 tons of Coca-Cola in an improvised factory for a year and a half.

Miami Herald writers Anne Tschida, Douglas Hanks, Hannah Sampson, Andres Viglucci, Jordan Levin and Jane Wooldridge contributed to this report.