by Shana Beth Mason
For the 11th edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami itself has plenty of reasons to feel proud. This year, it has another big one. For the first time in its 11-year history, a Miami-based artist will exhibit a solo project in the Art Positions sector of the fair. Agustina Woodgate, represented by Spinello Projects, will present a quietly potent vision of the modern world. Literally. A series of immense Maps of the World and common schoolhouse globes are sanded down nearly to the virgin surface beneath, creating new (and simultaneously empty) geographies.
In the past, local galleries such as David Castillo Gallery, Kevin Bruk Gallery and Charest-Weinberg Gallery have all been accepted into the Art Nova section, while Fredric Snitzer remains the sole Miami gallerist admitted to Art Galleries. Castillo's artist Xaviera Simmons was included in last year's Art Positions, but she is a native (and currently) a New Yorker. The admission of Woodgate with Spinello Projects into the ranks of intensive programs such as RaeberVonStenglin (Zurich), Mother's Tankstation (Dublin), Galerie Michel Rein (Paris) and Altman Siegel Gallery (San Francisco) solidifies the resolve of local artists to make their voices and practices heard amongst the white noise of Europe and New York.
Woodgate (originally from Buenos Aires) keeps a studio at the Fountainhead Haus, a private multi-artist residence formed in conjunction with The Fountainhead Residency. Her work has appeared in institutions and contemporary spaces throughout South Florida, such as The Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, Locust Projects, Dimensions Variable, MOCA North Miami, the Miami Art Museum and the Naples Museum of Art. She is the recipient of the Joan Mitchell Grant and a Full Fellowship at the Vermont Studios Center in 2008 and has enacted public commissions for the City of Miami Beach and Kulturpark: Treptow Park in Berlin. All of these accolades aside, Woodgate also serves as a host for RADIO ESPACIO ESTACION, a nomadic project broadcast in Spanish and English serving each community it travels to. Now, Art Basel Miami Beach becomes the next feather in the cap of the svelte, stylish Woodgate.
Entitled New Landscapes, Woodgate's project encompasses notions of political boundaries and topographic imperialism; in sanding away the dark lines of national borders and physical landmarks, she effectively erases the prejudices and histories those lands once possessed. Deprived of every signature, every demarcation, these maps convey the possibility of a singular global population with a cleaner path to follow. Woodgate proposes that this 'brave new world' is exactly thus, rid of the violent territorialism bred by conquest and fear. Ironically, the erasure of the current map is an aggressive gesture which guarantees destruction as much as it does creation. Sharply aware of this paradox, Woodgate seems to point towards a more peaceful future inside a planet still filled with its distinct colors and cultures, but lifted of the burdens of meta-history and all of the strife it has carried with it.
For such an ambitious statement to hail from one of Miami's own, perhaps the city is beginning to foster its own new landscape of potential on a contemporary global stage.
Shana Beth Mason is a critic based in Brooklyn. Contributions include Art in America, ArtVoices Magazine, FlashArt International, InstallationMag (Los Angeles), Kunstforum.as (Oslo), The Brooklyn Rail, The Miami Rail, San Francisco Arts Quarterly (SFAQ), and thisistomorrow.info (London).
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