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United States of America, Special reports

Rubells put 400 outstanding new works on display as they prepare to move home

Ambitious send-off is also gallery's first recent acquisitions show

by Dan Duray  |  30 November 2016
Rubells put 400 outstanding new works on display as they prepare to move home
Photo courtesy of the Rubell Family Collection
High Anxiety: New Acquisitions
New Shamans/Novos Xamãs: Brazilian Artists Video Art in Latin America: Selections from Brazil
Until 25 August 201
Rubell Family Collection
www.rfc.museum

The Rubell Family Collection has a unique place in the landscape of the art world. While it remains a strong Miami institution in its own right, market-makers and hangers-on, as well as intellectuals, follow the family’s movements.

Just about everyone wants to know what the Rubells have been up to, and this week they’ll find out, as part of an ambitious send-off before the collection moves about a mile away from its current location in Wynwood. Visitors have a chance to see a 3D scale model of Annabelle Selldorf’s design for the museum’s new home, and will get a taste of Don and Mera Rubell’s most recent, prolific art buying with the show High Anxiety.

“We’ve actually never done a recent acquisitions show,” Juan Roselione-Valadez, the collection’s director, says, “and we’re very much in the acquisition business here, so we wanted to take a cross-section and look at the highlights.”

The Rubells have collected more than 400 works since 2014, and the pieces in High Anxiety are all drawn from that two-year period. The show aims to mix generations, with works by established artists such as Isa Genzken and Hito Steyerl, next-generation voices like Ryan Trecartin, and buzzy up-and-comers like Anne Imhof—the subject of a high-profile trilogy of shows this year in Basel, Berlin and Montreal—and Frank Benson, whose lifesize 3D printed sculpture of a transgender fellow-artist, Juliana (2014-15), served as the face of the New Museum’s 2015 triennial.

The show was named before the outcome of the US presidential election and refers to a more generalised state of unease, with the artists included drawing on gender politics, colonialist heritage, war in the Middle East and the threat of a global pandemic.

“Zika is in the background here,” Roselione-Valadez says. The effects of the Zika virus, which can cause birth defects, are explored in an interactive performance by Jennifer Rubell, called Us (2016). It involves a glass baby that visitors are encouraged to hold as if it were their own.

The lower floors of the museum offer a glimpse into a different area of interest, with two displays dedicated to the Rubells’ acquisitions of work by Brazilian artists. The collectors have been travelling to Brazil since the 1990s and have built strong holdings there.

Among the 12 artists featured in the show New Shamans/Novos Xamãs are Lucas Arruda, Thiago Martins de Melo, Sonia Gomes, André Komatsu and Daniel Steegmann Mangrané—but context is important here, since their names may not be familiar in the US. “We don’t want it to read as six objects in a room with nothing connecting them,” Roselione-Valadez says.

The Getty Research Institute is helping to give that context, with a preview of its Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibition, Video Art in Latin America, organised by the Getty curator Glenn Phillips and Elena Shtromberg, an associate professor at the University of Utah. (The full exhibition is part of a southern California-wide festival to be held next autumn.) The 90-minute screening includes clips of video works from the 1970s to today, and offers useful Latin American insight into gender, class and political tensions. One film features a woman sewing a message about dictatorship to the heel of her foot.

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