The Art Basel fair in Miami Beach this year was unusual for more than one reason. New social distancing measures have been put into place, meaning the physical layout of the fair has been redesigned to accommodate for wider halls and staggered entry times in order to avoid over crowding.
However, since Art Basel Miami Beach was cancelled last year due to the global pandemic, it only made sense that the happenings this year (inside and outside the fair) felt extraordinary for it’s visitors and exhibitors alike.
Sure enough artists from all around the world flocked to attend the fair in person which helps make the atmosphere even more unique. Massimo Agostinelli, a talented, young Italian American artist, known for his ambiguous art works, showed up as well and left an impression.
During Art Basel Miami Beach 2021 the conceptual artist staged a Duchamp styled intervention involving a readymade Batman mask blinded by two inflatable baseball bats with the text “REAL BATS” inscribed in black acrylic and dated verso 12.02.2021. The simile ‘as blind as a bat’ is also referenced with connotation to the Erasmus quote; “In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.”
The piece began garnering attention and curiosity among fairgoers, some posing for selfies and asking questions in an attempt to distill fact from fiction because ultimately, “things aren’t always what they seem.” says the artist.
Agostinelli’s intention was to give spectators a chance to draw their own conclusions. ‘REAL BATS’ brings to light the irony of the very essence of what is “real” and what is “fake”, through the use of subjective language and word play he hopes to stir up a meaningful conversation. The sculptural found objects emerge shinning from the convention centre’s polished concrete floor reminiscent to Le Corbusier.
“Real Bats” is an anagram of “Art Basel” and “bats” being a homonym is therefore open to interpretation. When used as a noun, the “bats” in question could be a winged, nocturnal animal or a piece of sporting equipment used in baseball. Either way, in this instance the “bats” are not only “fake” but they’re also not the “bats” you were thinking about in the first place. This dichotomy between two interconnected extremes and the quest to uncover their truth is fundamentally what Agostinelli aims to highlight.
Agostinelli’s raw and ambitious projects seek to transcend boundaries, balancing both the physical and the metaphysical. Which is why he’s now launching the interventions as NFT’s. The idea is that each one is suspended in the space time continuum through the use of non fungible tokens.
“I felt compelled to make a comment on what is taking place in our world today and not here to say if something is true or not, just making a point that things aren’t always what they seem. It’s important to give viewers a chance to take a moment to make their own assumptions, independently from external influences. Above all not to be afraid to ask the right questions and through art this is possible.” says Massimo Agostinelli
This type of wordplay infused conceptual installation art is not unusual for Agostinelli, in fact he is known and celebrated by many in the art world for performing interventions at the world’s major art fairs since 2017 (which marked the 100th year anniversary of Marcel Duchamp’s fountain.)
Agostinelli’s philosophy is based on ‘Thinking First Principles’. Everything starts from an atoms up perspective. Combining this thought process with unbiased perceptions and elevating one’s state of mind to a higher level of consciousness anything is possible, according to Agostinelli.
Deeply inspired by Elon Musk’s world vision, in 2019 Agostinelli towed a 1 tonnes block of ice pulled by a Tesla model X referencing the end of the ‘Internal Combustion Engine’ ICE vehicles era – and presented it at Frieze London. Agostinelli is truly dedicated in supporting Musk’s vision and raising awareness through art activism in order to help accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
Within the fair he placed two X’s, symbolising the 2.0° climatic tipping point. (Agostinelli is also known by the pseudonym XX.)
The artist is planning an upcoming solo show at Nahmad Projects in London to exhibit a series of new XX works alongside the Interventions Series. A combination of paintings and sculptures accompanied by NFT’s powered by dojo.ai will encompass this new body of work.
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