For Brooklyn-based sculpture artist Leah Dixon, the final product does not constitute the artwork, the process itself is a performance to inform the final piece. By taking on a character, toying between the elements of architecture and body, and making the act of labor accessible to an audience, Dixon blends the line between tactile object and intangible experience. Showing this year in a defunct gym in Little Haiti the artist gives us insight on her unique methods, some Miami must-sees, and the importance of having space for experimentation in an art fair setting.
Medium: Sculpture and performative sculpture making
Where to see her work in Miami: Warped Tour at Iron Flower Fitness Miami 7400 NE 2ND AVE, MIAMI, FL 3313, Friday 12/04 6-9pm, Saturday 12/05 6-9pm
Where and what are you showing in Miami this year?
I am showing in 'Warped Tour' in Little Haiti. 'Warped Tour' is a mashup of four different galleries, who have each chosen artists to show together in a large renovated warehouse. It is interesting because all of the spaces chose their artists based on a larger conversation regarding context and site-specificity. The lineup is amazing. I am showing with GSL Projekt Berlin.
You have a performative aspect to a lot of your work. Why is it important that you show an audience your process as opposed to just the final product?
I consider the maniacal construction of my work to be a performance. Sometimes I construct, or destruct elements of my sculptures in front of an audience. I want to break down conceptual barriers between architecture and the body. I make these playful structures in a self-imposed physical challenge where I must have incredible stamina, and get to the goal of the final intended form inside of all of these crazy constraints. I want the audience to see my sculptures as durable, yet fallible entities. I use the mightiness of my own body to wield these tools and steadfastly build, to illustrate these ideas. The final products are always in flux -- asking for participation. They are not precious.
Where there is propaganda, there is labor. In my case, I am the laborer. It's halfway me playing a sort of cartoonish low-level military role... and halfway me playing an avatar of myself. Sometimes I have an audience, sometimes I am alone or with a friend. I could be in my studio, in a gallery, or on the street in another country. It all depends on the context of the project. However, it's always about injecting my work with my own physicality, and sense of humor -- while being highly precise on the fly. I can insert myself into many different histories this way. It is absolutely crucial that I force my audience to question where things came from, and how things got to where they are now. What does formalized forcefulness mean and how can we read these cues?
How many years have to gone to ABMB? How has the scene/vibe changed?
This will be my sixth year in Miami at Art Basel Miami Beach. I have shown in NADA Miami, as well as The UNTITLED Art Fair multiple times, both as an artist, and as a curator. To be honest, I think that the social aspect of art fairs has influenced my work quite a bit. These sort of marathon-like situations have helped me to make my work with more aggression, and with a more interactive result.
The production quality of the fairs is always on point. The UNTITLED Fair does an awesome job of becoming increasingly inclusive of international galleries. I love the scene of art fairs, however I would have to say that I don't think that Art Basel has changed that much... including the art that is being shown. The current context of an art fair doesn't allow for enough experimentation. Therefore, I think it is crucial for alternative exhibition models, such as 'Warped Tour' to present themselves along-side more commercialized venues. They both act as each other's checks and balances -- and inside of the social zeitgeist that they create, is a great place where new ideas can be born.
Are there any shows/events/artists that you are looking forward to seeing in Miami?
Aramis Gutierrez with GUCCIVUITTON at NADA
Helper Gallery Tiki Bar at UNTITLED
Rachel Harrison at the Bass Museum of Art
Jeremy Couillard with Louis B James Gallery at The Edition Hotel
What's next beyond the Miami madness, what are you working on?
I am working on a large performative sculpture for a show at the Torrance Art Museum in LA in January. I am also getting ready for the Material Art Fair in Mexico City, as well as The Nicaraguan Biennial in Managua in February with a collaborative group I work with, JUGO DEL CUERPO. And I am incredibly excited to be in a show at Edel Assanti Gallery in London this spring. Things are always cooking.
How would you describe the Art Basel Miami experience in 3 words or less (emojis/GIFs/ sounds excepted)?