The exhibition takes its starting point from The Miami River Project, a multi-year, multi-disciplinary project conceived in 2008 by Xavier Cortada, never fully implemented, and the curator’s interest in the river and the city’s relationship to it; and was developed over 6 months of exchanges and conversations between the two.
Through video animations, photographs, digital prints, old postcards and nautical charts, the artists in the show explore the river’s history, its current hyper-gentrified condition, in which old fisheries, boat-yards and “mom and pop’s” eateries cohabit along the river’s banks with trendy restaurants, sleek yacht clubs and multi-million luxury condos, as well as the condition of its waters.
Laurencia Strauss and Gustavo Oviedo are both investigating the history of the river, using a combination of found postcards, photographs and videos, from its origins in the Everglades, the Tequesta archeological sites that have been discovered on its banks, to the water falls that used to dot its course before it was channelized, causing irreparable damages to the quality of its running waters.
Lori Nozick presents drawings and collages executed on found maps; while Barbara Bollini pays homage to the river and its inhabitants with “In Reverse”, a short animation that starts with a speculative future of the state of Florida in 2050 and moves backwards portraying how the natural water flows of the Miami River and the Everglades have been affected since the 1900’s. Lastly Xavier Cortada continues his investigations of diatoms (single-celled micro-algae organisms encased in a silica shell) often used by scientists to monitor environmental conditions, past and present, and water quality. Working with Evelyn Gaiser, Matt Smith and other researchers at FIU School of Environment, Arts and Society, Cortada is presenting digital prints created from images he took of present-day diatoms and those that lived in the river during two historical events which took place at the mouth of the river: the first dating back to 1566 which memorialize the encounter between Pedro Menendez de Aviles and a young member of the Tequesta; the other from 1896 commemorating the city founders Julia Tuttle and Henry Flagler and the vote that took place in 1896 to approve the creation of the City of Miami.
This exhibition is presented by ARTSail, a nomadic residency and research program that seeks to provide artists and cultural producers with the opportunity to research and explore the extensive coastlines and waterways that surround Miami. ARTSail was launched in 2016 in partnership with the ArtCenter / South Florida and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, under the direction of independent curator Ombretta Agró Andruff, thanks to the award of a Knight Arts Challenge Grant in 2015. For more information: www.artsail.info