During Art Basel, Miamians take great pride in the art flying in from all parts of the world. It's a chance for us to show up everyone who thinks we're just a place for the Kardashians and Jersey Shore to capitalize on our nightlife and say, "Hey, we're cultured too." So we'll walk around sipping our fancy drinks and wear our stupid scarfs, even while we still have the low 70 degrees on our side. We'll take in the art, pouring our eyes over the many exquisite works on display.
But if you're one of the select few approached by Chicago-based artist Allen Vandever and his team of street canvasers, you might actually get the chance to do more than just look at the art. You'll have the chance to rescue it -- or destroy it. Vandever will present random Basel goers with an art piece, letting him or her decide its fate right then and there. The person is faced with the daunting task of either rescuing it, by pledging a minimum donation of $10 and keeping it, or personally demolishing it.
"I prefer if they rescue it. A big part of it is myself letting go of my possessions...Everything from high school sketchbooks to collage photographs to collage paintings, drawings and prints and everything until now," Vandever said of the pieces up for destruction, all original works of his own.
Art Chicago 2012 Next Rescue or Destroy
Almost 300 collage pieces are made entirely from recycled art and personal belongings. Vandever makes a dozen at a time over a three to four hour period, 20 minutes to a half hour for each, and then coats them with epoxy resin and pigments them. It's an enormous body of work, time, and effort up for complete and total annihilation at the whim of someone who just happens to walk by.
Rescue or Destroy began almost two years ago when Vandever and his assistant, Mike Reynolds, were discussing the value of art -- who decides it and its place in the world. The first installment was made up of Vandever's and a group of his interns' work. This time, the art at stake is all his. Aside from the performance-based Art Basel walk ups, Vandever will take part in the Verge Art Fair as a gallery curator and exhibitor for Team Art! and the stakes are higher than usual.