Morgan Meis Meditates on Miami’s Art Basel

Over at the Smart Set, his report on Day 1:

Art Basel Miami bills itself as the “most important art show in the United States.” You can read in The Art Newspaper, Art Basel’s daily rag, that Sam Keller, Director of Art Basel “has recreated what we used to call the World’s Fairs, at their height of success between 1850 and 1940.” This is an interesting point, if unintentionally so. The great era of the World’s Fairs was an era of populism and the celebration of the democratization of technology and the fruits of industry. But there was a certain blindness to this celebration, as there is, perhaps, in every celebration. The democratization of technology in the World’s Fair era was also its domestication and, inevitably, the beginning of its disenchantment. That is the thing with democratization. Everything gets opened up. Everything becomes available. But then we aren’t sure if we really want it anymore. The same ambivalence surely applies to art fairs.

And yet you wouldn’t want to close it up again. You wouldn’t want to de-democratize anything. The art world, the art market, is too big with too many people doing too many things. Miami embodies that right now. Too much — too much money, too much desire, too much art. But the alternative to “too much” is rarely, if ever, “just enough.” It is usually “too little.” The trick in Miami during Art Basel, I suspect, is to learn to swim around in the terrible current and find a few things among the chaos of toomuchness.