Last night as parties, dinners and art fairs were happening all over Miami, protesters gathered in Wynwood to demand justice for Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Israel Hernandez. Hundreds of protesters shut down part of I-95 as they moved toward Art Miami. As we all know, twice in the past ten days grand juries have decided not to indict white police officers for killing unarmed black men. Last Monday, a grand jury decided not to charge cop Darren Wilson for shooting teenager Mike Brown in Ferguson and Wednesday, another grand jury in NYC decided against indicting the white cop who put Eric Garner in a fatal chokehold this summer. This seems like an indictment against callous art dealers and party-goers who were blissfully unaware of world event but in fact, I was alerted to this event with info on Facebook a week ago by artist Kenneth Pietrobono and MANY artists, local and otherwise I know were there. For logistical reasons, I couldn’t get there. (Getting anywhere in Miami during Basel in a chore, without any move to purposefully block traffic.)
But I think you could safely say that a great many people, white or black, rich or not, wouldn’t alter their plans for a protest to block traffic during Art Basel. But that doesn’t mean their isn’t solidarity in the art community for civil disobedience. With astronomical prices at auction and a Kim Kardashian/ Miley Cryus appearance, the perception might be that the art world is indifferent to what is going on the “real” world. For me, I beg to differ. Art, at it’s core, comes from outsiders, and politics and human rights are always on the menu. What specifically to do about change is the issue and that has to be personal. I am inspired by the protests but often resent the comparison, as though there is a direct correlation between two unrelated events. But human rights are the responsibility of all humans, in my book. There’s another protest tomorrow, just as everyone leaves Miami, but the momentum is building across the country and it’s sad this is necessary, but as they, but POWER TO THE PEOPLE!