The pattern is familiar in certain cities: Artists move to an inexpensive neighborhood, fostering a culture that outsiders fetishize; speculation forces artists and original residents out, and elsewhere the cycle begins again. So, the Miami-based art collective Guccivuitton knew what to expect after opening a gallery in the city’s Little Haiti district in 2013. “Our moving there has already caused the majority of the land around us to be purchased by developers,” says artist Domingo Castillo, a founding member of the group along with Loriel Beltran and Aramis Gutierrez. “This city knows how to use culture to create capital out of nowhere. Our action is doomed after enough time because we [won’t be able to] afford being there.”
When the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, a nonprofit museum, approached Guccivuitton about a show, a typical survey did not seem like the appropriate approach to communicate their criticisms and concerns. Instead, the group decided to hold the equivalent of a “pop-up shop” for their brand, “like a fashion house opens a pop-up store in a trending city,” explains Castillo. Unsold paintings from the gallery’s past shows are arranged by size in the ICA’s atrium, and the only new pieces in the exhibiton are the customized display racks. “[That] puts front and center this idea that display is essential,” says curator Alex Gartenfeld. Visitors can buy artworks on the spot through a smartphone e-commerce platform.
Guccivuitton remains aware that even though Art Basel Miami Beach is the focal point of the international art world for one week every December, local artists are largely neglected. Partly in reaction to this, they’ve devoted past shows to groups like the Highwaymen, who created and sold landscape paintings en masse from roadside stands in Florida beginning in the mid-20th century, and regional Haitian artists, whose work has historically been relegated to folk art.
“There is no refuge from capital and consuming, and we wanted to continue that in the museum. We feel that that’s how it works, but we’re being transparent about it,” says Castillo. “It’s pure window-shopping.”
GUCCIVUITTON’S SOLO SHOW WILL BE ON VIEW AT THE INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART MIAMI THROUGH SEPTEMBER 25, 2015.