Christina Pettersson's performance-art installation "The Re-Coronation" resurrects one of the most-mythologized figureheads in French history: Marie Antoinette, the "let them eat cake"-saying, proletariat-despising blonde who inspired the French Revolution.
Pettersson, a Deering Estate artist-in-residence who lives part-time in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, doesn't expect you to believe these myths, just as she doesn't expect you to believe there are 14 Marie Antoinettes, but this is the number of French queens who will perform Friday night inside the Coconut Grove Convention Center. For a solid hour, blonde-wigged women in Victorian regalia will eat cupcakes, fan themselves and pound away in unison on antique typewriters.
"It's a big cacophony of noise," says Pettersson of the performance that opens the first night of Art Live Fair, a performance-art festival running through Oct. 28. "Miami adores superficial characters and clichés, and Marie was one of them. I'm taking this character that's been cast as an uncaring, un-intellectual figure and I'm re-writing history, turning her into a literary, empowered woman."
Pettersson's league of feminist Antoinettes is only one of the highly experimental, mostly interactive pieces planned at the fair, which raises funds for Miami's Lotus House Women's Shelter and provides resources for abused and homeless women and children. Art Live director Constance Collins says last year's festival, then called the Wynwood Art Fair, spilled the performances across three blocks in the warehouse district.
"It created a disconnect," Collins says. "Plus, we took a risk being sandwiched between two tropical storms. Our theme is about interconnection, working with the audience to break stereotypes and demystify art, to celebrate the creative source beyond the canvas."
At least 40 local and out-of-state artists will mingle with fairgoers. Some performances invite only passive observation, such as Buddhist artist Catalina Jaramillo's three-day-and-three-night meditative prayer at the convention center, or Sinisa Kukec, Brandon Opalka and Stephan Tugrul's 20-foot-tall "Tower of Babel" installation of stacked microwaves, TVs and Plexiglas mirrors. Kukec, 42, says the artists each contributed a section of the tower, which symbolizes socioeconomic world systems.
"Stephan is taking on the role of the first-world society, the top part with TVs and appliances, and Brandon's going to be the second-world middle-class, which is shrinking quickly, and I will be the third world with mirrors and false-perspective drawings that dissect the real world," the Miami artist says. "The tower was built to bring us closer to God, but does convenience bring us closer or does faith and hope?"
Ruben Millares' 60-pound oversize sculpture "One" will be suspended from the ceiling like a chandelier and composed of sheet metal, nuts, bolts and half-oyster shells. He'll be constructing the piece over three days, with the help of fairgoers.
"I'm really in love with the concept of man-made versus natural, and I wanted to showcase the two together," the 32-year-old says. "It's a literal balance issue, too, since adding too much weight will make it go lopsided."
Art Live Fair
When: 4-11 p.m. Oct. 26, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Oct. 27 and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 28
Where: Coconut Grove Convention Center, 2700 S. Bayshore Drive, Miami
Cost: $5-$10 daily; $50 three-day pass
Contact: 786-300-9840 or ArtLiveFair.org