by Vatsala SethiDec 26, 2022
In the midst of the coronavirus chaos of last year, another ambitious dream was shattered. Well… more like slightly delayed. With the hope to create a community space devoted to learning, knowing and growing culture around the realm of contemporary art, the team of Superblue Miami was expectedly fraught when their grand inauguration was sidelined as COVID-19 hogged our mind and media. The team at Superblue revived the delayed inauguration with no time wasted. With the onset of spring in 2021 now, we begin our wait for Superblue’s official opening - expected to be one of the largest spaces in the USA for immersive art.
In an interview with STIR, the Superblue Miami Director, Shantelle Rodriguez, discusses their vision for the future. “At its core, experiential art aims to disrupt traditional art world models and make art and culture more accessible and engaging to diverse audiences. As part of our values of Superblue, we are working to co-create a majority of our programs with local leaders, artists, community organisers, and educators, to centre equity and answer each community’s most pressing questions. We have built relationships with many grassroots organisations in Allapattah and throughout Miami. We worked to learn more about their needs and dreams, while imagining how Superblue can be a long-term resource for them. We are building performance programs, education initiatives, think-tanks, workshops and creative opportunities for community participation,” says Rodriguez. Superblue was born out of the desire to evoke and inspire people through art, in an effort to trigger critical thought and disruptive trends. The curatorial premise at Superblue envisions this process to lead a social change.
While it is easy to hope that your art exhibition will change someone’s life, it is very rarely that actually happens. Most contemporary art comes with a rather ambitious concept note. These big claims are very rarely substantiated. Superblue dedicates their team to reaching out to local communities, learning about their own curatorial goals through the art of listening.
Rogriguez says, “We will announce our programming calendar in the coming months, but one of the most pressing concerns among our community is food justice. Our plan is to build long term relationships with local non-profit organisations that focus on creating community gardens and sustainable eco-systems in areas that are predominantly known as food deserts. We are also co-creating a film and live performance along with some of our neighbouring Miccosukee and Afro-Caribbean friends that will uplift the beauty and truth of Miami’s history”.
She continues to say, “The beauty of experiential art is that the audience has been converted from a passive viewer to an active participant. Every visitor is encouraged to interact with their surroundings and play a central role in the completion of the artwork. The artist provides all the elements and sets the stage, but the work is not complete without the active involvement of the visitors who will use their own personal experiences to interpret the work. The artwork is the experience as a whole and ultimately belongs to the people”. The nature of the works chosen for the inaugural show titled Every Wall is a Door works to dissolve the boundary between art and viewer. In the exhibition, Superblue presents three seminal artists in the immersive and contemporary space in a thrilling introduction to their Miami audience - James Turrell, Es Devlin and teamLab. These three innovators are vivid representations of this immersive art form. While the three artists are quite distinct in their practice, each one offers their own worldview when it comes to immersive art.
Rodriguez discusses further, “Our inaugural program Every Wall is a Door, provides visitors with a better understanding of experiential art, and the artistically and technically ambitious approaches to creating immersive installations that transform the visitor’s perception. James Turrell manipulates light and vision to investigate the power of perception, Es Devlin stages complex performative spaces that reveal how we relate to the earth and teamLab grounds us in nature to awaken our sensory response to all living forms. Together, these artists challenge the limitations of conventional art and expand the traditional ways of experiencing art to a more accessible and engaging environment that appeals to new audiences”.
Superblue Miami’s vision is by no means an easy task. Teaching people the language of art, to read, speak and write it is a mammoth endeavour. Slipping into the normative hierarchy of a traditional art gallery would be only too easy. The efficiency and effectiveness of their curatorial team will be determined over time, as they continue to curate and create.