Locust Projects, Miami’s longest-running nonprofit alternative art space, is doubling in size with a move to Little River in March and opening with an immersive, multi-layered installation by Cuban-American artist Rafael Domenech.
“Assembling beneath a desire for sabotage,” by Rafael Domenech runs through June 24.
As an incubator of new art and ideas, Locust Projects plays a unique and critical role in Miami’s arts community by embracing a culture of “yes,” and inviting artists to experiment on a large-scale in ways that lead to creative breakthroughs and new career opportunities.
With 17-foot ceilings, an open floor plan, and access to a large, enclosed courtyard, the former industrial warehouse at 297 NE 67 St. will be a laboratory for both physical and digital art, where Miami-based and international artists can experiment with new media and materials.
Invited to take over the new space prior to the build-out of dedicated galleries, Domenech has envisioned “Assembling beneath a desire for sabotage,” a massive architectural environment that creates a pavilion-like setting activated by a sequence of events.
Building on his recent pavilion for the 58th Carnegie International, Domenech’s architectural intervention at Locust Projects is intended to redefine the exhibition experience as an active machine for production and dialogue rather than a repository space for passive viewing. For “Assembling,” Domenech repurposes imagery from his Miami archive alongside a composite of texts to create a space that allows for affordance – a recognition of an architectural space in a state of transformation. Attendees can walk through the free-flowing rooms and layer their own experiences and ideas by participating in various activations.
The activations, conceived as a series of “chapters” informed by Domenech’s history of working with artists’ books and experimental publishing formats, will punctuate the run of the show, evolving in and through the community’s active participation. Activations include: a Social Factory inviting participants to collaboratively build lamps to be installed in the exhibition; a Sculpture Garden inside the pavilion featuring works by national and local artists, and the 25th anniversary Benefit Dinner, in which the artist has created an interactive dining experience that is a “Gesamtkunstwerk,” or a work of art itself.
“Locust Projects is about ideas in motion. As a laboratory, we champion the artists’ creative process. Oftentimes the end result isn’t as important as the road the artists take to get there,” said Lorie Mertes, Locust Projects’ director. “We’re honored to have Rafael in our new space with a project embodying that ethos prioritizing process and the evolution of ideas in a project that will change as people activate it.”
Domenech embraced the exhibition opportunity as he wanted to be a part of Locust Projects’ history and impact.
“Locust Projects helped create a diversity of practices and voices for the city, by developing a space where artists can come and explore ideas without the financial pressure, with no objectives or goals outside of being there to make art,” Domenech said. “It’s a space that attempts to create a new set of rules for the artist to make. It places the responsibility on the artist. You are the one in charge of doing as much as you want and to push yourself as much as you want.”
The move to the new space is made possible by a leadership grant from philanthropist and board member Diane “Dede” Moss. A five-year, $1 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in 2019, and multi-year grants from the Warhol Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, were instrumental in the organization’s growth.
In the coming year, Locust Projects will add a Digital Innovation Lab funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, where artists can use new technologies to experiment and create.
“Locust Projects holds a unique place in South Florida’s arts ecosystem as a creative incubator supporting the production of experimental new work and introducing the community to the creative process,” said Victoria Rogers, VP | Arts for Knight Foundation.
“We’re excited by Locust Projects’ ongoing evolution and how this new home will expand its ability to accelerate their careers, and increase access to the work of featured artists.”
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