The Anxiety of Art

Pop philosopher Alain de Botton talks of our modern day status anxiety, our concern of climbing not only the social ladder but the right one at that. This theory could not be felt any more than at Art Basel Miami Beach 2012, although things felt rather more like its vicious counterparty, pop board game Snakes & Ladders. Everyone knows the Miami outpost of Art Basel has never been just about the art, unlike its more “neutral” Swiss counterpart. Sun and fun are top rung but actually, are they really? Some observations:

Art Basel Miami Beach VIP Desk lineArt Basel Miami Beach VIP Desk line

Queues queues everywhere. Not for the actual fair silly, but for all the parties surrounding it. Visionaire, White Cube, Art.sy, you art name it, they had it. And everyone wanted a piece of it. Wanted it a lot. Was anxious about it. Was looking cool in queue. I think. As with great art there is more beneath the façade. In this case: ANXIETY. Anxiety that they had to queue. Anxiety their name wasn’t on the guest list. Anxiety they wouldn’t get in. And then… relief. They got in. Until two minutes later, anxiety all over again. Scheisse. I am at the wrong party. Slip down the ladder, restart anxiety game. Then finally, the right party. But then anxiety again. Or rather, the realization that you are at a giant art world office party so can’t actually have any fun for fear of ruining above mentioned cool façade in front of the art world travelling circus that meets at regular art fair/biennial intervals all around the world. So much fun! Ahem.

Solution: actually go see the art at Art Basel Miami, then jump on gallery provided private jet straight to Berlin Tegel for actual fun at Berghain. Preferably Larry Gagosian’s jet for full status validation.

Don’t forget your passport.

NADA Pool Party performanceNADA Pool Party performance

Some additional views from the December 2012 Miami art fairs:

Art MiamiArt Miami

Carlier GebauerCarlier Gebauer booth at Art Basel Miami Beach

Jon Pylypchuk - "I Wont Give up on You", Frederic Snitzer Gallery boothJon Pylypchuk – “I Wont Give up on You”, Frederic Snitzer Gallery booth

Gemini G.E.L. GalleryGemini G.E.L. Gallery booth at Art Basel Miami Beach

Robert Miller GalleryRobert Miller Gallery booth at Art Basel Miami Beach

Björn Wallbaum - "Every Morning is Beautiful VI (left) and V (right)", AJLart booth at Context Art FairBjörn Wallbaum – “Every Morning is Beautiful VI (left) and V (right)”, AJLart booth at Context Art Fair

Los Carpinteros - "Kosmaj Toy" (2012), Sean Kelly Gallery booth at Art Basel Miami BeachLos Carpinteros – “Kosmaj Toy” (2012), Sean Kelly Gallery booth at Art Basel Miami Beach

Front Room Gallery booth at Fountain Art FairFront Room Gallery booth at Fountain Art Fair

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Blog entry by Philomena Schurer Merckoll in New York, Photos by Peter Cairns; Monday, December 17, 2012.

London born German, Philomena Schurer Merckoll, has finally settled in New York after trying out various cities including Paris, Dublin and Berlin. She is currently living and eating well in Manhattan whilst studying for an MA in Contemporary Art, as well as freelance writing for a variety of publications, both online and print.


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