As half the world is well aware that this weekend is Art Basel in Miami it seems this event has become so commercialized that people have forgotten why the hell they are even going there in the first place. What Art Basel used to be and what it is now are two completely different things.
Some say it has changed for better, others for worse. Some call it an evolution, others love attending it, but we just call it the biggest social climbing event ever known to mankind.
I have personally been to Art Basel many times in the past- about 5 and 6 years ago, back when it was still in its early stages. What I remember Art Basel as is nothing like what it is today. It used to attract hip people from all around the country and the world. People who actually had some sort of significance in society and catered to a very high end crowd, as well as a crowd that had an undying love for art.
The celebrities came in bunches as it was more of an exclusive event that not many people still knew about. The parties were spectacular and the artwork that was displayed was real art that creative people put their hard work, passion and soul into. It was never about the money or how big of a score they could make. It was all about displaying the best art they possibly could to a crowd that was, in a sense, unique because it was eclectic.
I recall jewelry lines, high end fashion lines, and a handful of companies having special private events for Art Basel which they only invited a select number of people to who they considered to be importnant, and would fit in into the Art Basel scene. The weekend in Miami used to be something that was unique and enjoyable- all due to the creativity that surrounded you as well as the people that you had the pleasure to mingle with.
Fast-forward to 2012 and what we have now is a social climbing spring break in December. This event has been commercialized to the maximum with everyone in Miami trying to make the biggest payout on it. They even tried to make it a music festival with Kanye West headlining- which of course failed terribly.
The crowd that is drawn to Art Basel currently is not a crowd you necessarily want to be around. It is mostly people that go down there to social climb just so that they can feel some sort of sense of importance. They go there to party because of course this has turned into a big party weekend and social circles all around the world get together and try to make each other look more important than they really are.
The worst part about it is that it is not even about the art anymore. People go down there and don’t even look at the exhibits, but rather just go to be seen and maybe, if they are really lucky, bump into a celebrity. As we all know the art world has become a booming business with prices soaring through the roof on things that have no intrinsic value.
A business that was once focused on pure creativity and passion has been transformed and saturated with people who are not even real artists, just people drawing some silly lines on a canvas and try to sell it for $20,000. Why? Because there are idiots out there that will buy it for the reason that they find art to be hip.
Between the fake people walking around all trying to feel important and social climb, to the fake artist walking around acting like they have talent but in truth a 5th grader probably has more creativity then them, I’m not really sure what is worse.
Now that loads of money has become involved, it has taken away from those that are not focused on the money, but do it because they love it- those are real artist; they are the ones suffering because of this new trend. But of course only the cool and hip artists who sell their paintings for a ridiculous amount get invited to Art Basel to begin with. And a majority of those people are just social climbers fiending for their next big score.
The sad part about it is that there are still people that go down there to enjoy the art and love the exhibitions, but are witnessing this event become so commercialized and pedestrian that eventually they will take the word art away from the event’s title.
All week the only words I have been hearing is Art Basel and everyone asking each other if they are going. Anytime you have that sort of situation you know something is played out. The non-social climbers are already looking for a different place to spend their weekend.
Preston Waters | Elite.