Berlin has become one of the world’s top art centers, a deserved place that it lost during some dark years in the 20th century. After the horrendous destruction and death of World War II and the debilitating years of the Iron Curtain, when the divided city sat east of the free world, a phoenix rose from the ashes. After 1989, artists from East and West flooded the city, finding affordable studios in buildings that carried incredible history, both good and bad, jump-starting what has become one of the most lively and progressive art scenes.
Erik Smith was one such artist who was drawn to the edgy excitement of Berlin, moving there in 2003. Anyone familiar with that city will know the bullet holes that still pepper some buildings, imprints from war that almost destroyed it; the remnants of the infamous wall; the new construction that constantly reveals much older constructions, from decades and centuries ago. Smith was captured by this, and began excavating a section of a dead-zone —the areas around what once was the Berlin Wall. With a shovel, he dug up an old spiral staircase, bringing back to life something that was literally buried and forgotten.
So what better place to continue his structural and architectural explorations than Miami, a city constantly redefining itself, tearing down and rebuilding in rapid succession? And what better location than the new, but temporary space, of the alternative exhibition gallery, Dimensions Variable (a Knight Arts grantee)? The artist-run gallery was forced out of its old digs on NE 38th Street, as the building that housed both DV and studio spaces is being demolished to make way for up-scale outlets; it’s a Miami tradition.
In its new space, DV is presenting “AABBCCDV,” Smith’s latest line of investigation into urban transformations, which is “a process that is as much about speculative growth and renewal as it is negation and fragmentation.” To that end, Smith works with both the former and current space.
To further the topic of this type of artistic excavation, DV will host a talk among Smith, local artist and urban explorer Adler Guerrier, and the new director of Legal Art, Christopher Cook, next Thursday. It’s a convenient time to check out the new — but likely still on the move, Miami-style — location of Dimensions Variable.
“AABBCCDV” runs through June 16 at Dimensions Variable, 3850 NE Miami Ct, Miami; 305-607-5527; dimensionsvariable.net. The exhibition conversation takes place on Thursday, June 7 at 7 p.m.