11 Dec
Sophia DeArborne goes deep undercover at the art world's most debaucherous weekend

Art Basel 2009 009

In preparation for my evening arrival in Miami for the 2009 installment of Art Basel I prepared with all of the essentials including camera, pen, paper, computer, sunscreen and Advil. Basel is the tour de force of the Art world and I did not want to be trampled. The minute I stepped out of the plane and felt the heat and humidity I knew it was only a matter of time before I resembled a Gustave Klempt painting, apropos considering the event. However, I was not to be discouraged, being short of some sort of industrial grade lacquer, I embraced my involuntary and rapidly expanding hairstyle and went forth to co-mingle with Miami’s artful assemblage.

Art Basel began humbly in Switzerland and added a sister event in Miami in 2002. Miami Basel quickly surpassed it’s predecessor creating the annual art fair par excellence. Besides its reputation as one of the most successful fairs of the year, Basel has also become synonymous with insanely elaborate parties and riotous hedonism, not since the Seminole Wars has the city seen this much action. The main event is held in South Beach so that is where I made my hub. As I was a bit late I may have missed the afternoon jubilations, but immediately upon check-in at my hotel I was whisked away to the first stop of the evening; Miami was already proving to be a generous host. My cohorts and I first ventured to the marina downtown for the Kurimanzutto soiree, a very successful gallery hailing from beloved Mexico City. The yacht that hosted the event belonged to a surprisingly sea worthy Bob Pittman, former CEO and founder of MTV, who had all guests remove their shoes before clamoring aboard. Those who found the separation from their treasured footwear unbearable were soon placated with virtually limitless amount of Tequila aptly named Casa Dragones, which I can only assume refers to the pain you would suffer the day after…

Continue reading Sophia DeArborne‘s review of Miami Basel — including Peaches, random French hipster riff raff, and the allure of French Polynesia — after the Jump…

Shortly thereafter there were whispers of a certain diminutive crotchless-panty-wearing, foul-mouthed Canadian songstress performing at a somewhat random bar across from a very particular tranny stop — yes, the long lost Peaches. Despite a very drawn out wait the performance was clever and hilarious with a proxy German pianist named Johan, playing via video feed on a big screen behind a makeshift stage. Peaches herself was in full glory performing her version of many 80’s soundtrack hits, not least of which was Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer”. She was head-to-toe in what appeared to be a gigantic Brillo pad, later revealing a tiny futurist inspired unitard. All in all an entertaining event — but not yet the last.

After wading through a variable sea of 6 foot plus “ladies” I found myself at the Florida Club in the Delano Hotel for Le Baron‘s big Basel bash hosted by Jalouse and Purple Magazine. All the young beautifuls — plus the requisite random French hipster riff raff (it was a Le Baron party, after all) — were there to mix and mingle with owners and event promoters extraordinaire Andre Sarraiva and Lionel Bensemoun, and of course Purple’s Olivier Zahm. There was intense boogying to the point of séance, which is when I finally snuck out the back and stumbled my way back to my room. Crawling into bed with a bottle of water desperately clutched to my chest, I wearily anticipated the art fair the next day everyone is in South Beach for. Technically, at least.

With a day beginning with a barrage of galleries down seemingly endless stretches of convention make-shift halls and alleyways, the Viktor & Rolf event provided a welcome and highly anticipated break from artful delirium. The champagne was in abundance as were a bevy of high-end designers at the new and much anticipated boutique, The Webster, founded by Milan Vukmirovic (also co-founder of Collette). The creme of Miami social life were out in droves, as well as the temporary Miami transplants such as China Chow, Fabian Baron and Dean and Dan Caten and Leigh Lezark of MisShapes fame.

The event eventually grew legs, and most of its guests moved up the street to the penthouse at the Delano for a private Visionaire cocktail party. Cecilia Dean was of course in attendance as was artist Aurel Schmidt, Rita Ackermann and Marc Jacob’s beloved, Lorenzo Martone. Though the cocktail party raged for quite awhile, in comparison it proved to be quite tame once everyone moved downstairs to Le Baron’s after party. What happened in the wee hours of the Florida Room can neither be confirmed or denied, suffice to say that all things legal in remote French Polynesia are not necessarily legal in the States, but I’m sure those young ladies were well on their way to 18. All that was needed were some glow sticks and a room full of pillows and they could have really brought back the 90’s, pre dot-com bubble…I’m sure there were more than a few Tylenol diets the following afternoon. For the final day most of South Beach did its recovering pool or beach side, powering through their headaches with some very intense sunbathing. I am sure that all in attendance would agree that the five days of rollicking in the artistic hay shared by scenesters and art goers alike helped economic woes slip into the back of ones mind, if only temporarily.

Oh, and for the record, it’s worth the frizzy hair.

By Sophia DeArborne

Gallery image directory:

1. Kurimanzutto Boat Party
2. Kurimanzutto Boat Party Guests
3. Kurimanzutto Boat Party with Lionel Bensemoun
4. Peaches
5. Peaches with pianist
6. Le Baron DJs
7. Le Baron Partners Andre and Lionel Bensemoun
7. Viktor & Rolf Interviewed by Entertainment
9. Cecilia Dean at Visionaire Party
10. Artist Conrad Ruiz and Gallery Director Franklin Melendez at Visionaire party

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