The time seems right for Karen Finley to be visiting Miami, to be performing in the black box space of the Miami Light Project at the Goldman Warehouse, and to present her latest performance-art manifesto about the current political landscape, “Unicorn Gratitude Mystery.” In the show, which she began developing as a response to the U.S. presidential election in 2016, Finley plays a unicorn that morphs into a Hillary Clinton-like, Donald Trump-like being, all wrapped up in the witty, satiric art that has made the New York-based artist a free-speech legend.
Finley’s appearance is the first presentation of the Museum of Art and Design (MOAD) at Miami Dade College's "Living Together" series. Rina Carvajal, the executive director and chief curator of MOAD, and the curator of the series, says Finley as the kick off couldn't be more fitting.
“We now have a different mission,” Carvajal says of the MOAD, whose space inside the historical Miami landmark the Freedom Tower is currently under a major renovation. “’Living Together' is part of an initiative called Museum Without Boundaries, where we want to extend the conversation beyond the institution, and to create a conversation that involves everyone and every discipline,” says Carvajal.
The cross-disciplinary series of programs are an effort, as Carvajal explains, to galvanize Miami audiences with thoughtful and challenging performances and exhibitions that draw from art, music, theater, politics, and poetry. There are 17 events scheduled by national and international artists, art collectives, musicians and writers, beginning Jan. 12 with Finley's performance and continuing through September 2018.
"We are presenting in venues across Miami in collaboration with many different groups. Some of the performances may be in downtown, some may be in Miami Beach, while others could be in Hialeah," says Carvajal. "Whatever makes sense and is interesting to further the role of arts, and that is to connect people."
The series' presentations in April coincide with the reopening of the renovated museum at the Freedom Tower, with British-German artist Tino Sehgal in "The Situation," where unscripted interactions with visitors yield musings on topics both economic and existential beginning April 7. On April 21, Brazilian artist Anna Maria Maiolino posits questions about the present by revisiting a major work from the past.
A video installation by the great South African artist William Kentridge, from May to September, celebrates, in darkly comic fashion, resilience and life.
Finley's work is the one that opens wide the idea of artist as a conduit to conversation. "To have the artist as a historical recorder, that's what my job is," says Finley. "It's interpreting events that are happening in society and culture through an artist's lens, and then giving these deeper meaning to offer an understanding of where we're going to go and how we're going to move forward."
Finley uses the phrasing "understanding through humor instead of shock and awe" about the piece she's bringing to Miami, "Unicorn Gratitude Mystery."
"I began the show in New York," explains Finley, "and it was a response to, at that time, the issues that were connected to what was leading up to the actual election. So, there's talk about the sexual dynamics of the Clinton-Trump race. It looks at gender disparity, and, of course, abuse of power, and the desire for power."
Then things took a different turn. "After Trump won, it was something we weren't expecting, and that added yet another dimension." She dons orange wigs, red "Make America Great" caps, pantsuits, and makes references to Monica Lewinsky's famous blue dress.
"I have this moment in 'Unicorn' where I imagine what it would have been like for Hillary to go back to the Oval Office, where there was that encounter, and now, there she is in this power seat."
"Unicorn Gratitude Mystery" didn't begin as a look at the two presidential candidates, one female, one male. No, it began with the unicorn, what she says is a symbol of the sacredness of whiteness. She references the neo-liberal spaces of whiteness – walking down an aisle at a holistic supermarket, or getting worked up when waiting in line for a latte -- "the displacement of the ridiculousness of these capitalist consumer spaces of neo-liberalism."
She considers, too, that in today's climate, even having fun is a political statement. "Well, isn't it?" says Finley, who became known as one of the "NEA Four," when her grant from the National Endowment for the Arts was vetoed, along with three other artists, on the basis of subject matter in 1993. The case made its way to the Supreme Court and is now in the legal books as NEA vs. Finley.
Conversation starter? You betcha.
"There will be tears and hilarity," Finley promises about "Unicorn." "The humor here is a way for us to get our minds around the complexity of spaces that maybe we don't even want to look at."
With the closing of Tigertail Productions last year, Miami lost one of its preeminent artistic champions. Under the direction of founder Mary Luft, Tigertail brought an endless parade of boundary-..
Anytime would be a good time to devote a dance program to the works of Jerome Robbins, our most versatile and celebrated American-born choreographer. But, given that 2018 marks the centennial..
Due to winter storms in the Northeast impacting travel, with great regrets the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company announced the cancellation of the Saturday, Jan. 6 performance. At age..
It is fitting at this time of the year that our thoughts often turn to what connects us not what divides us. Whether we are driven by religious or secular motives, many of us are in the spiri..
The end of the 19th century was a golden age for ballet. In 15 years of collaboration, two great Russian geniuses – choreographer Marius Petipa, and composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky – produced ballet st..
Here’s a riddle – name the 1892 box office flop panned by critics for lack of seriousness and for casting too many kids, which has now transformed into a force of nature timed to occur yearly..
It happens every year, right around Thanksgiving, productions of the Nutcracker pop up from coast to coast, marking the start of the holiday season. But on Saturday, Miami audiences have the ..
As Art Week approaches, Miami choreographer Marissa Alma Nick’s Alma Dance Theater is getting ready to add its distinctive voice, rehearsing for the upcoming performance of “Flowers” at the C..
Promising a night of airiness and ardor, Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami will bring “Ballet’s Pointe of Passion” to the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, where the company joins an att..
Great friendships can nurture and prod an artist to make greater work. Think Pablo Picasso and Wifredo Lam, James Baldwin and Toni Morrison, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Such is also the case fo..
It’s a tall order to present a season as surprising as it is moving, as disturbing as it is delightful. Miami-Dade College’s Live Arts 2017-2018 season -- Ojala/Inshallah: Wishes from the Mu..
It was only a few decades ago that finding a professional, locally produced performance was an aerobic dance in itself. But after the Miami City Ballet (established 1985), the New World Schoo..
A 50th anniversary calls for gold in celebration. But Balanchine’s “Jewels”—a sublime marriage of music and choreography from 1967—brings Emeralds, Rubies,and Diamonds. Those pre..
When the Limon Dance Company returns to Miami-Dade this weekend, it brings with it the powerful vision of founder José Limon. He was a man deeply concerned about and connected to the humanity..
When Cardi B, with her trademark no-filter attitude, raps in her recent hit “Bodak Yellow” – Now I don’t got to dance/I make money move – she has something to sing about, with her smash hit N..
Despite a packed show schedule, including performing with the Frankfurt Opera in “Rinaldo,” Sarasota native, dancer and choreographer James McGinn had a chance to discuss the upcoming dance-opera ..
Anniversaries usually celebrate the success of a partnership with symbolic gifts of crystal, china, silver and gold. For the Arts Ballet Theater of Florida, the company celebrates 20 years of..
The songs are familiar; the love story is also familiar but made fresh in “On Your Feet!,” the musical biography that comes to Miami this week. The narrative of Emilio and Gloria Estefan meet..
Dance lovers in Miami know that for the past two decades the International Ballet Festival of Miami (IBFM) has made the city in September a magnet for the brightest stars in the world of bal..
Orlando Taquechel, dance critic for two decades at the El Nuevo Herald (and now a contributor to Artburst), will have a book signing and discussion of his new book, “La danza in Miami (1998-..
The name Flamenco conjures the machine-gun snap of heels, arms arched overhead, the flick of red fabric and laser-like glares from beneath the starched black brim of a Cordobes hat. At the ed..
Watching Neri Torres rehearse is a study in focus and concentration. She demonstrates each step with an ease developed from years of immersion in the study and performance of Afro-Cuban ..
Miami-based organization Delou Africa has been the ambassador of African dance and drumming in South Florida for the last 30 years. It started as a performing company, and has since expanded..
Miami Beach’s old city hall on a Thursday evening in June made a surreal set up for anyone familiar with tango’s broody scene -- a large cozy room full of cheerful, laughing, and smiling..
When Ballet Flamenco La Rosa takes to the stage this weekend, it will present a program based on traditions which were handed down through the ages. A program filled with the mysteries of fl..
With every great new love, the beginning is a crucible of extremes – will it endure for decades or permanently scar?The program for Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami’sJuly 8show, “Fiebre: A N..
With a heightened emphasis on “Noise” as an innovative musical genre, this sixth installment of the Miami Performance Festival International (M/P’17), running June 23 to 25, challenges South..
People often imagine new artwork is the product of the solitary artist genius slaving away in lonely studios. The South Florida Symphony’s 20th anniversary program foregrounds a different vis..
At an age when many are winding down their working lives, Ignacio Berroa eagerly anticipates a new stage in his career. It would be understandable if the 64-year-old drummer, recognized a..
We know it’s the holiday season when trees light up, menorah candles start to burn, ubiquitous Christmas carols pipe through drugstores, “The Nutcracker” plays on every stage – and in recent ..
Late last year, on Dec. 20, 2016, Romero Britto and Mark Bryn hosted the Great Artists Series Cocktail Reception at the Britto Fine Art Gallery to celebrate the legendary impresaria, Judy Dru..
Everyone remembers a lost weekend, binge reading a novel whose ending had to wait because the body just gave out. No matter how compelling the story somewhere around the 30th hour the brain s..
Globalization has produced many stories —not all inspiring. But having a Pakistani ensemble become a worldwide sensation by playing Paul Desmond’s immortal “Take Five,” which pianist Da..
When the management of New York’s iconic Apollo Theater approached drummer Gregg Field last year about organizing a concert there in honor of the 100th anniversary of Ella Fitzgerald’s birth..
They’ve opened a Chanel fashion show in Havana and been featured in Beyoncé’s visual album for “Lemonade.” The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has danced to their music. Their Florida debu..
There are few artists who have had the impact in their disciplines that guitarist Paco De Lucía had in flamenco. There is a before-and-after De Lucía in flamenco. He expanded the harmonic voc..
El segundo programa de la temporada 2017-2018 del Miami City Ballet (MCB) dedicado a los 100 años del nacimiento de Jerome Robbins (1918-1998), el gran coreógrafo norteamericano que triunfó ..
2017 fue un buen año para la danza en Miami. El Flamenco Festival nos permitió volver a ver a Jesús Carmona, el Internacional Ballet Festival of Miami (IBFM) sobrevivió al huracán Irma, Dance..
El Miami City Ballet (MCB) presentó por fin en el Arsht Center la nueva producción de su gran espectáculo navideño, el “Cascanueces” de Tchaikovsky y Balanchine, ahora con diseños origin..
La tradicional temporada de Cascanueces del Miami City Ballet (MCB) tendrá algo nuevo este año. La compañía que dirige Lourdes López ha decidido renovar los diseños de la superproducción que..
El programa que Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami (DDTM) presentó el sábado pasado en su exitoso debut como compañía en residencia del South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center (SMDCAC) y a solo ..
Hay pocos artistas que han tenido el impacto en sus disciplinas como el guitarrista Paco De Lucía tuvo en flamenco. En este género, hay un antes y después de De Lucía. Expandió el vocabul..
Dance NOW! Miami, la Florida Dance Education Organization (FDEO), Miami Dance Futures y la New World School of the Arts (NWSA) colaboraron el fin de semana pasado para presentar la Daniel Lew..
Esta es una gran noticia para el público amante del ballet en Miami. Tras un paréntesis de diez años en los que solo nos visitó de manera esporádica, la Primera Bailarina mexicana Katia Carra..
Solo hay que aplicar el concepto “seis grados de separación” a uno de los artistas que se han presentado en las Galas de Estrellas del Festival Internacional de Ballet de Miami (IBFM por sus ..