“Where’d you grow up?” Noah Dillon asked from the floor of the ArtPark gallery space in Miami’s Design District.
“Like a middle-class family? Parents? You know how they frame some achievement on the wall, like you graduated from high school or college? We had that idea for money.”
Shortly past 6:30 p.m., a line of creative youth had formed outside the gallery, eager to see the much-promoted exhibition “Free Money” from Dillon and Luka Sabbat, who together call themselves “Hot Mess” and who were making their Art Basel Miami Beach debut. Only they didn’t exactly seemed thrilled about it.
“Free Money” is an installation of 300 framed $100 dollar bills, an ATM that spewed random amounts of real money, and a merch drop with items like a sweatshirt that read “not Switzerland.”
“It’s kind of a troll on Art Basel,” Sabbat said. “We’re professional pessimists so we kind of don’t think Art Basel is, like, the greatest. So it’s a good troll; we basically proxied and finessed one bill from every country in America. It also plays on American consumerism and stuff.”
“Because the bills are priced,” Dillon said. “The Chateau Marmont one is like $4, but the one that’s from a South Dakota Indian Reservation is like $20k. So you can buy each piece, but it’s inversely priced, dependent upon where it’s from. It’s a big old play on American consumerism. Boiling it down to the essence.”
“Even the merch that says ‘not Switzerland,’ that’s the Art Basel that we wish we were a part of,” Sabbat said. “Switzerland, not Miami. That part of the world usually has a higher taste lever. I feel like so much wack s–t seeps through America.”
“Like Jerry Saltz didn’t even come to Miami,” Dillon said. “He’s the biggest art critic in the world — because he knows it’s a joke. There’s no reason for him to be here. There’s nothing of his tier and level for him to see here.”
The pair had yet to check out any fellow artists’ exhibitions throughout the fair. “We barely got to see ours,” Dillon said.
“It’s a f–kin’ s–t show, it’s a hot mess,” he added of their Basel thus far. “We’re living up to our name.”
To reiterate, the lads find Art Basel Miami Beach an utter waste of creative time, and they hope you agree with them.
“It just looks f–king stupid. You know? It just looks so stupid,” Dillon said of their framed bills. “And that’s the point. Look how stupid it looks. You can’t tell me it doesn’t look stupid.”
“It’s so dumb,” Sabbat added. “But it’s so sick.”
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