Arriving at nightfall to the shimmering turquoise pool at The Standard Spa, Miami on Saturday night, one was greeted with a peculiar site, that of floating men, not any ordinary floating man but turned upside down around 5 foot 7, balding. Knowing that this was a pool party to celebrate Elmgreen and Dragset and the just unveiled public sculpture “Bent Pool”, the floating men could have been “Dead Collectors”, a reference to duo’s installation at the Nordic Pavilion of the Venice Biennale in 2009 named “Death of a Collector”. The piercing blue pool lifted up 12 inflatable floating “dead collectors”, bobbing along silently, perhaps an apt “death” after the last art fair of the year, but there was nothing sad nor morbid about these floating dolls, for they reminded us that art too, can be fun. And fun indeed it was. Matching turquoise cocktails named after the artists, never-ending seafood bites and a DJ set by Wolf + Lamb saw the pool come to life despite the “dead collectors”. The night saw the end of Art Basel crew dancing away in front of the DJ - artists, collectors, gallerists and bright young things gathering around the pool to hang out with the dolls or simply watch the inimitable lights on the dock at The Standard Spa, Miami.
Swimmning pools and Elmgreen & Dragset are not new to each other, one might recall Van Gogh’s Ear at the Rockefeller Center or the Zero Pool at the Bangkok Biennale last year (though it is their permanent sculpture, Prada Marfa and the fourth plinth of Trafalgar Square that gave them broader than art world renown). Last week, the permament sculpture sitting proud at Miami Pride Park, “Bent Pool” is another example of how the duo can captivate our attention, stopping us in our track to ask, “what is this?”. The work is at once a celebration of Miami’s infamous pool culture but also indicates a world that is bent and upside down, in particular with regards to global warming, the climate crisis and the overall bent and “upside-downness” of all that we are facing.
However, seeing as the turmoil of the world might not be what we are celebrating, yet appreciating that art has a way of synthesizing these messages, it was for fun and celebration that friends gathered pool-side at The Standard, the curious ended up having a good laugh with the inanimate Dead Collectors. And why not, perferctly formed 5”7 inflatable, with receding hairline and all is the perfect companion in the global art caravan especially when fueled by cocktails and a conversation. The courageous ended up in the pool, as one should do at a pool party. Dead collectors don’t really die for these floating ones can live on, in the comfort of your own home, a super limited edition run available for purchase at The Standard Shop. And really, who would not want to be reminded that art is not dead, it is more than alive, this week testament to it. . . to real bananas on walls and spy glasses that can make films, there is no other way to end a week. And when 11 PM hit, no one really wanted to go home but as the dead collectors were lifted out of the pool to be put in a safe place (they are after all art), guests and friends mingled on figuring out the next move.
Limited Edition Dead Collectors are available at The Shop at The Standard, Spa Miami.