The Technological Body and The Consumerist Psyche: 15 Top Artworks from Miami Art Week by Chris Dorland

Multimedia, Prose


Once a year — the first week of December — the international art world descends upon sunny Miami for what is a week-long convention and trade fair of contemporary art. Galleries from all over the world set up shop, do business and socialize. Anchored by the huge Art Basel Miami Beach fair at the city’s Convention Center, along with smaller fairs like NADA Miami Beach at the Deauville Hotel and the Untitled art fair set up in a custom-made tent right on the beach, the festival is now in its 15th year, and brings together maybe 500 art galleries and thousands of experimental artworks from all over the world.  

Contemporary art is often easiest to comprehend in relation to currents and zeitgeist, and the Miami art fairs are a trend-spotter’s paradise. Two tendencies characterize new art in 2016: the technological body and the consumerist psyche. Below is a selection of 15 top artworks from Miami Art Week, artworks that respond to the ever-expanding colonization of our bodies and minds by technological apparatuses and what can be called a “total control society.” Artists today use a variety of materials, techniques and modes of address to poke fun at and ultimately, illuminate and humor us about life in our brave new world.


Reena Spaulings at Chantal Crousel (Paris)
Funny and cute, but ultimately disturbing, Pokemon character painted on Dibond by NYC’s most elusive fictitious painter.


Ken Okiishi at Pilar Corrias (London)
Wonderfully satisfying cave painting like scribbles on a TV monitor with asinine ads slowly looping in the background.


Rey Akdogan (background) and Elaine Cameron-Weir (foreground) at Hannah Hoffman (LA)
Beautiful and ghostly pairing of evocatively figurative neon light totems by Cameron-Weir and and mute minimalist industrial signage by Akdogan.


Yngve Hollen at Stuart Shave/Modern Art (London)
Disembodied headlamps and car parts confront the viewer like menacing mechanical bugs from another planet.



Haim Staimbach (detail) at White Cube (London)
Can’t really go wrong with an Alien tchotchke.


Peter Nagy (left) and Walter Robinson (right) at Elizabeth Dee (NY)
Vintage corporatized Cancer cell paintings from the early 80’s courtesy Nagy paired with Robinson’s fresh-out-of-the-studio momento mori’s to male consumption and desire.


Robert Heineken at Cherry & Martin (LA)
It’s always a treat to see vintage works by Heineken, a visionary media appropriationist and peer of Robert Rauschenberg’s.

Loretta Farenholz at Galerie Buchholz (Cologne / Berlin / NY)
Degraded .jpg of an industrial factory transformed into one of the most engaging pieces of lenticular art I’ve ever seen.


Melanie Gilligan at Max Mayer (Dusseldorf)
Multi-screened capitalist deconstruction video sculpture by Gilligan.



Screen Shot 2016-12-05 at 9.02.05 PM
Kandis Williams at Night Gallery (LA)
Images train-wreck as race, celebrity and art history collapse into a singular-body, horror nightmare filled with trauma and humor.


Vikky Alexander at Cooper Cole (Toronto)
Conceived in the early 80’s and produced this year, Aqua Obsession by Alexander shows us a taxonomy of female consumer representations


Josh Tonsfeldt at Simon Preston (NYC)
One of my favorites booths in Miami, Simon Preston presented (among other things) three beautiful, optically disorienting and poetic works by Josh Tonsfeldt that all use LCD screens to filter and obfuscate found objects and photographs.



Alex Ito at Springstein (Baltimore)
Ito’s aluminum printed panels displayed on aluminum racks felt like a cross between MAC cosmetic’s display booth and retro-futuristic printer proofs.

Phillip Birch at Lyles and King (NYC)
Two video display monitors showed an advertisement for a corporation set in a (not-so- distant?) dystopian future where bodies have been reduced to hairless, gelatinous monstrosities; these were bracketed by humanoid floor and wall sculptures.


Screen Shot 2016-12-05 at 9.00.19 PM
Stan Vanderbeek presented by The Estate of Stan Vanderbeek (NY)
Salon style hanging of collages, xeroxes and 4 freshly restored films ranging over 30 years by experimental filmmaker Stan Vanderbeek were presented by his Estate, which is administered by his children Sara and Johannes Vanderbeek (both established artists in their own right).


Chris Dorland is a NYC based artist and Director-At-Large of Magenta Plains.