A Pop Cultural Meltingpot

While Art Basel Miami Beach certainly features more art than you could ever possibly see in four days, the attending crowds aren't just there to view and buy objets d'art. As with any pop cultural melting pot—which is what Basel has certainly become—the fair has turned into a platform for more than just one medium.

While Art Basel Miami Beach certainly features more art than you could ever possibly see in four days, the attending crowds aren't just there to view and buy objets d'art. As with any pop cultural melting pot—which is what Basel has certainly become—the fair has turned into a platform for more than just one medium. There are fashion events, magazine launches, lavish concerts, and pop-up shops; the only thing that possibly surpasses the number of art booths is the number of parties, and this year in particular seemed to herald a new benchmark of hedonism. Its pretty accurate to say that in the grand scheme of things, Basel is not so much of an art fair as it is a celebration of partying, an explosive lapse in the decorum that we more or less stick to in our respective cities. Miami lends us its temperate weather and laissez-faire attitude and we reciprocate by indulging to frenzied excess. Miley Cyrus' titillating performance at Jeffrey Deitch’s party, and Mikki Blanco's ostensibly unrehearsed outburst are but a few examples.

The gems of the week's program were the cooler, less frenetic events that tapped the indie scene in fashion and music. The New York-based fashion brand NOMIA collaborated with photographer Peter Sutherland on a limited-edition bomber jacket that debuted the Auber-chic retailer The Webster; London DJ-cum-designer KESH sketched onlookers’ portraits as she sat on an LED-lit ice rink while Blood Orange's Dev Hynes spun tunes beside her. There were more relaxed vibes across the bay in Wynwood where local art spaces set up shop and served cocktails, while ruggedly handsome graffiti artists rode by on skateboards. Lower East Side punk band DAMEHT performed at the intimate Merc Studios, while Trash Talk played a show at Gramps a few blocks away.

DAMEHT at Merc Studios

DAMEHT at Merc Studios

Trash Talk at Gramps

Trash Talk at Gramps

Trash Talk at Gramps

Trash Talk at Gramps

The best way of approximating the Art Basel Miami Beach scene was simply wandering around. Crowds of art kids smoking cigarettes outside Sandbar Lounge in North Beach could be heard discussing Ryan McNamara's performance “ME3M 4 MIAMI: a Story Ballet About the Internet.” The trendy fashion elite mostly wore black as they ascended the stairs of The Edition Hotel in South Beach. Locals in baseball caps drove around in graffitied hot rods, and the occasional tourist would stop and ask his wife, “What is Art Basel?” But the best thing about Art Basel Miami? Getting away from it all at the beach.