“Ads imitate art. Arts imitates life. Life imitates ads.” The text by Hank Willis Thomas captured the essence of Miami Art Basel, where for one week in December, art is everywhere. This year even the skyline served as a canvas. Text-based works by Thomas and 14 other contemporary artists flew on banners across the sky for “Plane Text,” a Morgans Hotel Group public art project that is produced with Van Wagen Communications.
Three planes flew above the Miami Design District, the Miami Convention Center and the strips of hotels along the beach including the Delano, Mondrian South Beach and the Shore Club for a four-hour period over the course of five days. The artists included Jenny Holzer, Ed Ruscha, Richard Prince, John Baldessari, Sol Lewitt, Lawrence Weiner, Thomas, Jack Pierson, and Lisa Ann Auerbach, amongst others. Each work was displayed in an identical monochromatic font. Adam Shopkorn, the cultural ambassador for Morgan Hotel Group, curated the public art project.
“I’ve always loved the banners that are flown over the beach in the summer,” Shopkorn said. “I especially love the budget ones that say, “Will you marry me?” or (the banners) that announce two-for-one nightclub specials. The idea of budget advertising for some of the most established and sought after artists intrigued me. When the project title “Plane Text” popped into my head, I knew it was game on.” The 15 participating artists submitted text that was up to 50 characters. Richard Prince’s piece [ran] slightly longer: “My brother just married a two-headed lady. Is she pretty you ask? Well, yes and no.” Creed’s work was the most succinct, reading “Friends.” Text based work is central to the participants’s body of work, including Jenny Holzer whose phrasing speaks to the collectors, artists, dealers and curators who circled Miami last week, “Protect me from what I want.”