A few days ago as I was sitting patiently on location in Paris for the film Melchior, set to release sometime next year in France, I browsed my French Vogue and waited for the director to address me. Well, there it was, front and center on the coveted pages of Vogue, Art Basel Miami was here once again. I sat there silently trying not to distract myself from the 3 lines I had to utter in French for today’s scene, but I was distracted, wondering if I should fly back to Miami for Art Basel. Tracey Emin was showing at Moca! This could be an interesting study for my obsession for art and other topics brewing in my mind.
Social Studies: Art Basel Miami 2013
The Rive Droite in Paris, being my usual hangout, is filled with great exhibits all year round, but when it was time for Art Basel week in Miami, I said my au revoir and parted — off to the city of Eternal Summer. From Georges Braque’s retrospective at the Grand Palais straight into Basel Week.
I opted for a different approach this year, since we are all evolving beings and all. In past years, the gallerina in me would have mustered my energy to go see it all, or at least try. The problem with this approach is that you become over stimulated and cannot remember a thing after the week has passed. “Focus on one thing,” I said, “something you would really like to see (one artist? one piece?) and make it move you in an non social way.” Me, non social? This is getting awkward, I know! What I mean is, sometimes you must spend time alone with people, art, literature, etc. In Miami, we are all about socializing, but if you really want to be engaged in something you must spend quality time with it and really ask the personal questions. I feel art is this way, too. It is meant to evoke sentiments and make you feel things that you otherwise would not; meant to move something inside that every yogi wants, sincere feelings of joy, pain, fear, sadness, happiness or even weird feelings that we cannot describe. Art can transport us to all these places, and this year Tracey Emin got mostly my full attention.
Why Tracey, you ask? Living in Paris exposes me to literature that normally wouldn’t come to mind immediately. My French family suggested that I read books like The Second Sex and When Prophecy Fails, but I prefer New York Times best sellers like Brain on Fire. The compromise: Letters to Sartre and Tracey Emin. I don’t immediately fall in love with textual art but isn’t some of picasso’s cubist work considered textual? Well, what I learned was that textual art is not classified by its word play, but instead mode play. What do these words make you feel? I drifted around these walls searching for a piece of insight into this strange woman’s mind and wondered how it helped any of us to endure her angst. Is this what feminism was? How can my generation play catch up to this? I believe women are equals in every way, but, then again, generation Y has two generations in between this revolution. How can we possibly decide what the continuation of this should be? Did feminists really have to become vulgar with sex to prove they are free? How is it that some feminists regard their body as sacred and in their control while others set out to prove they are nothing but vessels to carry out “masculine” agendas. I suppose it is hard for my generation to understand how radical women had to be, to be understood and heard.
We were born into equality with a few glitches in the system, many archaic men floating around and concerns of this glass ceiling, but I have never felt different than my peers. To be honest, in a sense perhaps my generation has regressed because it has nothing to do with what we believe but with the confusion that has been left behind about gender roles. I made my brain stop smack in the middle of the gallery where I was allowed to film. I took out my camera and, with not a soul looking, began to feel what she wanted to say. I saw her heartbreak, the people she seemed to love so intently, the lost soul seeking approval and, even more, the pain she endured for her crusade to feel loved and heard. At first, I felt sad at the thought of an adolescent girl with no one to turn to for guidance, but then I thought her art shows future lovers the sensitivity and fragility of a woman. Furthermore, the fragility of a man and a woman coming together (because men become just as attached).
We are equals, of course, but we are also different, and any man going through this experience perhaps would not be able to convey the same message of vulnerability. I think most would argue that men are sensitive and vulnerable, too. And they are, but a woman the creature of life is meant to be … well, here is where you fill in the blank. Be what you want! Tracey sure did and now she communicates the very animated but in the end extremely painful journey she took. In conclusion the choices we make come with consequences — for both men and women. If you play with love, as beautiful as the feeling is meant to be, you will come out bruised, but if we don’t, we sit in a colorless, empty room. I would like to think that what I got from this art is not about feminism, but about humanism and how our own self-destructive actions can tear us apart only for the pieces to appear somewhat back together again at Art Basel somewhere in the world.