Story | Art Basel Brunch at the Kampong Tropical Garden

 

Coconut Grove

On a beautiful day of Miami Art Week, while most people were heading down to the Art Basel Convention center and wait in line for hours, I decided to do things differently.

I hopped on my scooter, left the Miami Beach area to attend a performative art brunch in a tropical garden, in a land far far away of the Miami I knew so far.

This event was kind of underground and not many people knew about it, yet oddly it turned out to be the most brilliant art event I experienced during my week at Miami Art Basel.

I drove for about an hour, in heavy traffic, scooting illegally between the lanes (had no patience that day) and as I was starting to regret my decision, the scenery began to change. The event was located in Coconut Grove, a leafy neighbourhood (and actual tropical oasis) that was founded by an eclectic mix of pioneers, artists, intellectuals and adventurers. I had no idea I would be surrounded by lush tropical canopies on the way to the garden.  It felt like such an escape from the city. 

I felt like I was put in a time capsule and shipped to some magnificent jungle, someplace in the world.  At some point, I even crossed a f***** mangrove forest. No-joke. 

 
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The Brunch

I arrived at the Kampong Garden with no expectations whatsoever. I was un-fashionably late, having underestimated the time it would take me to get there.  I hate being late, it makes me extremely anxious. I still don’t get the people who constantly brag about being late like :  omg I’m alwayssss late. Being late is not cool, K? 

Unfortunately not much food but was left when I got there, except some fresh fruit and a few bagels.

Fortunately, Procescco was still flowing. 

I poured myself a glass, took my cameras out of my backpack and started walking through the garden ablaze with light. I immediately fell in love with this magical place, which was the former estate of Dr. David Fairchild, a famed botanical explorer who traveled throughout Southeast Asia and other tropical regions collecting exotic plants he introduced to the U.S. 

 
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Diaspora #2

 I crossed paths with an array of tropical fruit cultivars. Mango, coconut, coffee trees… I was fascinated, yet little did I know I hadn’t even reached the actual garden yet.

Eventually I came upon this egg shaped sculpture in the dense palm bushes. I must of taken 50 pictures of it. Digital, analog, mental. I stood there and gazed at the shiny egg, in awe. Art tends to make me emotional. 

Turns out the art show, was exquisite. Diaspora #2 was organized by the New World School of the Arts for the 13th consecutive year of successful installation and performance-based artworks examining the language of Miami’s sub-tropical location through the lens of our agrarian landscape.

 
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The artwork examined the relationship of land, people and plants through a simultaneous manifestation of our collective future as seen from the perspective of present and past.

 

Art of The Ocean

 

The artists playfully used the unique environment of the garden, to spur collaborative works, including my personal favourite : a flag art installation which was created by a man who, repeatedly,  jumped into a hidden river in the garden with a foam and flag structure, swam all the way to the Ocean to install it on a wide piece of land facing Biscayne Bay.

First and foremost, I had no idea the garden connected to the ocean, so to walk through the Kampong and end up with a view of the ocean with colourful flags flowing in the wind was simply dazzling…I was even more impressed when I realized where these flags came from.

Like always, pictures don’t do it justice.

 
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do some research

What you need to remember if you ever go to Art Basel is to make sure you do some extensive research before going to Miami to be fully aware of all that is going on. There are SO many different events, exhibitions, performances that are worth our attention everywhere in the city, and they are NOT all in Wynwood or at the Art Basel convention center.

Also, make sure to keep your eyes when walking around because these gems are everywhere.