By John Hood
A New York-based, Bogata-bred, former Miamian with a penchant for the conceptual is probably not the first person who’d spring to mind when considering an art fair directorship, especially if said conceptualist’s focus is on “large-scale installation, performance, video, photography and sound art”. Then again, an international array of outliers who specialize in specialties unseen are probably not the first people who’d spring to mind when assembling an art fair either.
But the former is just what Art Miami Director Nick Korniloff chose to direct the latter this year, and the combine has come off as rarefied as a Rauschenberg.
We speak of Julian Navarro, who just wrapped his debut as director of CONTEXT Art Miami. Tropicult got with the newly-crowned kingpin the day after the ART Miami & CONTEXT the keen six thousand plus who attended the Art Miami/CONTEXT VIP preview.
Here’s what we got him to say:
Given time enough for an elevator pitch, how would you sum up CONTEXT?
CONTEXT is the perfect platform for dealers to present emerging and mid-career artists to collectors. It is contemporary, edgy and fresh with high standards.
How ‘bout given time for a tad more elaboration?
For 2014, CONTEXT Miami will feature 78 international galleries from 18 countries, with more than 360 artists from 27 countries.
There will also be four special exhibitions: The Director’s Project “CONTEXT-ing / Listening as CONTEXT”, which is a sound art exhibition that’ll present work by 12 of the most innovative contemporary artists working with sound today. “Hot Spot”, which is curated by LaRete Art Projects and will present remarkable projects by seven contemporary artists for the public areas of the fair. “ART FROM BERLIN”, a special project featuring six contemporary galleries selected by a panel of Berlin-based curators and art critics. And “A Piece of Me”, which features visual arts students from the high school honors class of Miami’s renowned New World School of the Arts.
Plus we’ve partnered with Miami Light Project, who are staging a selection of music-dj performances curated by Mr. Pauer that’ll take place daily in the CONTEXT Outdoor Lounge.
How did you first get CONTEXTed?
I’ve always been attracted to the CONTEXT format. Last year I participated as an exhibitor, Julian Navarro Projects. But before that I’d been serving as an advisor to Art Miami Director Nick Korniloff for Art Wynwood’s video programming. In fact Nick and I go back eight years; which was when I helped put together Art Miami’s first Video Lounge.
Just what does a Fair Director do anyway?
In theory, the Director provides the clear vision that gives focus to the fair; in reality, what I do is undefinable. Whatever it takes to meet the goals of and for the best of galleries, artists and collectors.
Who are some of the more prominent CONTEXT ops that help you get it done?
There are many, but I would like to personally cite (and thank) CONTEXT’s selection committee: Ethan Cohen, Leigh Conner, Enrique Guerrero, Alberto Magnan, Dara Metz and Jamie Smith; our curatorial team: Julia Draganović, Elena Forin and Claudia Löffelholz; and the dedicated team who make it all possible: Tom Backscheider, Pamela Cohen, Louise Courtney, Jennifer Jacobs, Mindy Liu, Tina Margherio, Kay E. Mitchell-Spires and Grela Orihuela. Then of course there are CONTEXT’s Art Miami partners: Nick Korniloff, Mike Tansey and Brian Tyler, as well as our sponsors, cultural partners, vendors and volunteers, and, finally, the City of Miami, which is invaluable.
Are there any other integral ops you’d like to cite?
Yes, I also want to note that producing and installing an art fair is no easy achievement, so I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the numerous technicians, installers, carpenters, designers, landscapers, chefs, servers, cleaners and security guards whose wisdom, expertise and creativity make it all possible.
In what way does CONTEXT correspond with your work at Julian Navarro Projects?
Special exhibition, curatorial projects, solo shows. You see all this at JNP now, you’ll see it in a bigger scale at CONTEXT.
In what way has CONTEXT helped you reach even greater heights?
For me it’s very important to connect with people, explore ideas and then go wherever those connections and explorations lead. CONTEXT continually provides opportunities to do just that, with some of the most exciting people in the art world.