Past Event

Mark Flood: Art Fair Fever

  • February 6, 2019 | 6:00pm

Join us on February 6th at 6 pm for a screening of Mark Flood’s feature film, Art Fair Fever, followed by a Q & A and book signing with the artist! A satire of the ever-growing art market, in particular, the role of the art fair, Art Fair Fever follows the main characters, a group of young artists, as they navigate a Miami-based fair for the first time.

“In 2013 Flood sent a few dozen friends to Art Basel Miami Beach armed with lightweight video cameras to record the goings-on, including the atrocious self-aggrandizing behavior that appears unavoidable when art-world players compete for power, artworks, and money. That footage—as well as other scenes shot at various events over the next few years—became the source material for Flood’s first feature film, Art Fair Fever (2016). The movie’s central fictional narrative concerns a group of students who arrive at the fair to learn the mechanics of the art world; instead, they contract a disease, foaming at the mouth and ruminating on the futility of their aspirations to become real artists. The film also depicts collectors manically trying to get the best works by whatever means necessary, be it financial, sexual, or unrestrained braggadocio. Successful artists are portrayed as crippled by too much undeserved attention, fussed over and thereby infantilized by fawning studio assistants.

Art fairs only exist because as a culture we care about what artists make, yet few works are well served by the conspicuous overproduction the fairs make all too visible. The issue of artists seeing their work reduced to one price tag among thousands has been the cause of limitless anxiety. Famous artists complain that their work tends to disappear from the dialogue when displayed and dispersed at a four-day fair (rather than at a proper six-week gallery exhibition). These same artists then grow resentful that their galleries, ever more dependent on these events as labor-intensive cash machines, demand more work to feed the Basel beast. Yet many artists—Flood included—have found ways to expose the beast and reach curious publics amid the chaos of the massive, convention-center locales.

Art fairs are a surprising source of shame in the art world; I have been chastised for writing a critical essay that analyzes the way an artist’s work conveys meaning in the particular and highly visible context of Art Basel Miami Beach. The message is that what happens at a fair is some sort of dirty secret, best never mentioned in polite society. What happens at Art Basel stays at Art Basel. Within the complex conversations needed to reach consensus about the cultural importance of an artwork, fairs (like auction houses) have undeniable power; to ignore them would be like trying to understand nineteenth-century art without considering the salons. Flood’s depiction of this comedy of fairs is both critical and oddly loving, effectively turning the art-fair dragon into a house cat.”

– Bill Arning

Doors open at 5:30pm and select galleries, including Ai Weiwei: Life Cycle and Yayoi Kusama’s With All My Love For The Tulips, I Pray Forever (2011), will be open prior to the screening.

Please note that tickets are for general seating on a first come, first served basis.

Upcoming Events