Oliver Sanchez's Swamp: Swampspace in the Miami Design District
Normally one thinks of a swamp as a particularly unpleasant location: one that upsets the olfactory and tactile senses with pungent mud, mosquitoes, scavenger animals and oppressively sour weather. Oliver Sanchez thinks otherwise. A swamp could, theoretically, be an ecosystem that is interesting, active and ceaseless under its ugly surface; this particular environment is one that Florida is quite familiar with. At least, those that have been around long enough to experience it pre-real restate, pre-manufactured islands and pre-Kardashians.
A respected sculpture fabricator who has worked with internationally-renowned artists including Daniel Arsham, Peter Coffin and Piotr Uklanski, Sanchez has unusual, quirky ideas about how local artists can engage with him, their tropical surroundings and each other in his Design District space. Part gallery, part workshop, Swampspace possesses an experimental quality that behaves more like a creative incubator versus a 'white cube'. Most recently, it played host to La Noche i.Delicatissima, a strange adaptation of Tennessee Williams' The Night of the Iguana, by nomadic artist troupe Southernmost Situations (Liz Ferrer and Sebastian Duncan-Portuondo). Back in January, its group show Pataphysics for Dummies: 100 Years of Artitude presented the results of artists contemplating, satirizing and reveling in the 'faux field' imagined by French writer and performer Alfred Jarry. Whatever it presents, Swampspace prides itself on being pointedly counter-commercial and counter-predictable with its content.
Its web presence is minimal, its roster is constantly unfixed and shifting, and often its very presence in the Design District is one illiciting curiosity versus conspicuous consumption. This, one would guess, is exactly what Sanchez is aiming for.
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