Lara Favaretto at The Bass Museum of Art in Miami

As Beacon Gallery is showing at Aqua Art Miami’s 15th edition starting Wednesday December 4th, I’m lucky enough to have been in South Beach for the last few days – and have seen a few exhibitions in that time.

The Bass Art Museum in Miami’s South Beach can be counted on to show contemporary works that stretch my appreciation of the genre. I don’t always love what I’m seeing (I’m thinking of you, room full of clowns…) but a visit is always worth its time.

To my delight, I saw multiple exhibitions their opening day on my last visit – including Lara Favaretto’s Blind Spot.

As described by The Bass’ curators Favaretto “embraces the idea of constant change, creating works of art and situations that are in flux.”

Lost & Found, 2017 Suitcase, hidden objects, safety lock

Much of Favaretto’s work includes found objects such as the suitcase above, the construction material below and the paintings wrapped in wool.

detail of Shinkflation, 2019 Used Iron scaffolding tubes, swivel jacks, base fixed plates, tube clamps, spigot pins, wood, wool

Using elements like obsolete technologies to subtly refer to the passing of time, Favaretto incorporates found materials that are repurposed in her work. These upcycled materials – such as found paintings, discarded books and weathered construction materials – serve as commentary on the lifecycle of material detritus. 

The Bass Curators
Detail of Black C, 2019 Found Painting and Wool
286-5135, 2018 Found paintings and wool
detail of 286-5135, 2018
Detail of 286-5135, 2018

The works in this series, perhaps purposefully, do not link together in any sort of logical way. Like sifting through our own discarded matter, one finds an assortment of objects that create, together, a larger narrative.

On a basic level Favaretto’s work explores what we throw away. From the miniature “Your Money Here” charity box, to enormous discarded masterpieces, the viewer is presented with invitations to give or take, as well as lost and discarded items.

Your Money Here, Photo Credit: The Bass

The opportunity to “take”, coming at the end of the exhibition, felt like a change to engage with Favaretto’s work in a way one often cannot in a museum.

However, before this opportunity, the visitor had to pass through the car wash brushes, representing a sort of metaphysical cleanse.

The car wash brushes working together in concert create an experience of sound, movement and air displacement that is unlike many others in the exhibition.

After passing through the brushes (which do not touch visitors, except to create a wind-tunnel effect), one faces a wall of second-hand books.

Momentary Momument, photo credit: The Bass

Visitors are invited by the docents to take a book from the exhibition – a first amongst my museum-going experiences. Second-hand bookshops being a favorite haunt of mine, deciding on just one book was a struggle. Should I take Crocheting for Beginners? The Complete Works of William Shakespeare? The Atlas of Intestinal Stomas? I had never seen such a mix of old and new and range of subject matter mixed together.

All were volumes discarded by others in the Miami area, and visitors to the museum were being asked to leave with a piece of the exhibition. This invitation to engage – to participate in the cyclical nature of belongings where an item is picked up and put down over and over again, finding new hands, new owners and new purposes made this exhibition memorable for me and hopefully for many others.

And while no, I am no fox hunter, this slim volume is the one I took and perused with delight. Each book also includes an image by the artist printed on paper and inserted in-between the pages, almost like a bookmark.

While books are becoming relics of the past, with the increasing number of media available for our consumption, Favaretto demonstrates with Momentary Monument that context is everything: books as souvenirs of a museum exhibition are unique and destined to be treasured (at least by me!) in a way that the same volume, from a different location may not have been.

What is art often about the context in which an object is presented and the story which accompanies it. The ready-mades of Marcel Duchamps may be the best example of all.

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And while no one asked… here’s a small section of room full of life-sized clowns. Clearly an artistic accomplishment, but also fuel for my nightmares.

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