The best thing Chloe Wise saw at this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach was not the Haas Brothers at the Bass Museum, or Judy Chicago at the ICA, or even her own work at NADA.
“I brought my cat Pluto to Miami,” she said Friday night from the Matador Terrace of the Edition Hotel. “I took him to the beach and he was doing beach cat sand digging — it was really cute. So that was the best thing I’ve seen all week in terms of art. You know, really powerful beauty.”
Wise was ending the week with a dinner thrown with Whitewall, happening upstairs at the Edition while the basement was dedicated to artist Sarah Bahbah’s dinner and party. A Basel regular, Wise’s dinner was equal parts a celebration of the week and a birthday party.
“I went to the fairs but I’ve just been having friendship hangs, because every year it’s my birthday during the fair,” she said. “I reserve a four-day birthday celebration. Every year it’s during [Basel] and it’s so much fun. All my friends are here and it feels like I’m being somewhat productive because I have work exhibiting at the fair, but what I’m really doing is gathering outdoors, hanging out with friends, having my cat, and being near or adjacent to art.”
Now in her sixth year of attendance, Wise has finally hacked the Basel burnout schedule. “I got here two days early because I’m a genius and you have to do that but no one does that! Well, because everyone has real jobs,” she said. “I come and I hang out in silence and lay down and eat salmon and crudités on a lounge chair, make a base tan, cuddle my cat, and then I go see art.”
Like many longtime fair goers, Wise noted a change toward a party scene in recent years — though this year seemed different.
“I thought it was getting increasingly Coachella-esque, and I was, like, why are there ‘Walgreens x Adidas x Vitamin Water presenting A$AP Rocky’s cover of a Marina Abramovic’ — like why? Why is that needed?” she said. “So I thought it was getting more and more mainstream and losing the actual point — which is that it’s supposed to be about actual art. But I feel like this year — maybe because I’m old now and I’m not invited to the really fun messy hip-hop stuff — but it feels like this year is actually a little bit less popping. Maybe I’m just getting better at figuring out what not to go to.”
Her hypothesis as to why?
“I’m going to get political for a sec — maybe because it’s a really horrible time to be alive in America. And the economy and the political climate are so dark?” she said. “I guess not for collectors — collectors are probably Trump supporters, if they’re in a certain bracket of income. But I think everyone in art feels really bad and overwhelming anxiety, so maybe people are like ‘it’s a weird time to celebrate.’ But that’s just my hypothesis. Maybe I’m just not invited to cool [things].”
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