The first-ever Faena Festival in Miami Beach invited the community to contemplate the concept of America through experimental installations and performances that explored the multiplicity of communities and cultures across the continent.
This is Not America addressed America as concept more than a place, a contested and powerful idea that is greater than the waters and borders that frame it. Artists in the Festival were challenged to explore the concept of America as a myth and a narrative.
—said Zoe Lukov, Curator of the Festival.
In exploring Miami as a place from which to speak to new ways of defining our global identities, Alfredo Jaar’s iconic work, A Logo for America sailed the Miami Beach coastline on a giant LED billboard reminding us that we can co-exist across geopolitical boundaries, united by our similarities rather than our differences. Artist Derrick Adams’ interactive playground spoke to the history and urban development of Miami in the Jim Crow south, while Tavares Strachan’s neon installation, You Belong Here, contextualizes Miami as a bridge between North and South America. Luna Paiva’s bronze work, A Matter of Time, reflected on the fading symbols of the American Dream, while the iconography of the suburban home was set ablaze in George Sanchez Calderon’s thought-provoking How to Win Friends and Influence People installation. And perhaps the most significant totem of our culture, banknotes, were artistically reimagined through a Native American lens by Agustina Woodgate and Rev. Houston R. Cypress in Land Acknowledgment.
Our vision for the Faena Festival is to continue to commission new cutting-edge works of art and original programming that catalyze our culture and our communities. Each future edition will have a unique concept that responds to our world; and I will develop working in collaboration with artists, thinkers and curators from all over the world.
Cover and thumbnail photo: Kris Tamburello
Spaces across the Faena District became creative venues for the public to digest specially commissioned works during Faena Festival, which was keyed to Miami’s enduring role as a port that welcomes migrants, refugees and tourists from around the world. Live performances choreographed by Cecilia Bengolea, a featured artist for the biennial 2019 Desert X exhibition, converted the Faena Forum into a contemporary temple with dances that hinged on the intersection of the sacred and profane, while Isabel Lewis’ heightened sensorial experience poses the question of how to flourish in tempestuous times. Impressionistic short films from conceptual filmmakers Boris Mitic and Eugene Jarecki drew applause, as did an inspiring panel on “Radical Play” in the Screening Room, while in Faena Theater, Wu Tsang and boychild’s performance-film project tackled the tensions of colonialism, diaspora and “otherness” within the context of Miami’s opulence. Electrifying beats from dynamic rising stars created layers of sound: Faena’s Tree of Life featured eclectic DJ sets from Hundred Waters, an electronica group whose sound The New York Times characterized as “a watercolor wash of possibilities.” At Faena Theater, revelers swayed to the beats of MNROY at the Anonimo after party, while the progressive trio, Mardeleva, concluded the festival with an elevated performance of multi-instrumental magic. The soul-stirring healing series in the Forum’s rose marble amphitheater opened hearts through enriching meditation and sound healings led by Agustina Caminos and renowned Pranic healer, Master Glenn Mendoza.