The brainchild of Alan Faena, the inaugural Faena Festival takes place this week, with opening events kicking off yesterday. Zoe Lukov, Faena Art’s curator, has curated the programming of new commissions, films, talks, and performances.
Installations and experiences will be on view and take place throughout the Faena District and Miami at large. Artists like Tavares Strachan, Derrick Adams, Luna Paiva, Isabel Lewis, Cecilia Bengolea, Wu Tsang, and boychild have been invited to respond to America’s current political and social climate, as well as its history.
Whitewaller spoke with Lukov about what to expect from this first-ever festival.
WHITEWALLER: What kind of programming did you want to create and what sort of precedent do you hope to set with the Faena Festival?
ZOE LUKOV: From the start, Alan Faena wanted to create a district-wide festival that would explore ideas in contemporary culture and foster engagement with the issues that define us, individually and collectively.
In responding to the local context, we wanted artists to have the space and freedom to push their practices, experiment with new media, and take advantage of the various flexible venues throughout the Faena District. We are interested in placing divergent perspectives and practices in a polyphonic conversation.
Our goal at Faena Art has always been to create immersive and experiential, site-specific programming that
is free and open to the public. Ideally, this is a model for the future of this festival and our engagement with the city of Miami that allows for experimentation and the commissioning of new cross-disciplinary projects.
WW: Can you tell us how you arrived at the
theme for the festival, “This Is Not America”?
ZL: This year’s festival is anchored by Alfredo Jaar’s iconic work A Logo for America (1987), which we are using as a point of departure for the exploration of America as a place, concept, and myth, from South to North and back again.
We are living through a moment where divisive voices attempt to reinforce definitions of America that are exclusionary at best—and often xenophobic and racist at their worst. Given the current conversations surrounding refugees, immigrants, and what it takes to belong here, I was particularly interested in addressing America as a concept, a contested and powerful idea that is greater than the waters and borders that frame it. Artists in the festival have been invited to explore America as a myth and narrative that has at times bound and
divided us, but ultimately has the power to unify.
WW: How does the setting of Miami act a host for that theme?
ZL: “This Is Not America” is keyed to Miami’s enduring and historic role as a port that has welcomed migrants, refugees, and tourists from across the U.S. and the world. The festival engages with the multiplicity of communities and cultures and the palimpsest of histories that have created the Americas, while responding specifically to Miami as its hemispheric hub.
WW: What kind of impact do you hope the festival will have, amid the busy art week and flurry of fairs?
ZL: My hope is that viewers who seek these works out, or just happen upon them over the course of Miami Art Week, connect to this sentiment, are challenged by new ideas, and are introduced to new perspectives and radical ways of reimagining what America can and should be.