Sand: Amphitheater by Misael Soto | Art Loft 710 Segment

Sand: Amphitheater by Misael Soto | Art Loft 710 Segment


The conversations we had initially, between
myself, ArtCenter, and Miami Beach, were very simple. I was tasked with engaging with the city of
Miami Beach to better understand how they’re tackling sea level rise and process that into
my work in order to create public programs of some kind. I was given a bit of free reign in regards
to how that would be presented. Sand is the foundation for Miami Beach. And sand has this metaphor, for a artwork,
was too easy to let go. This is kind of a fun, new project for ArtCenter. We’ve invited an artist, at the beginning
of his career, to come to Miami Beach, spend a full year with us, and dig in on the issue
of climate change. One of the really cool things about this opportunity
is we’ve been able to get Misael Soto embedded in city government. He shows up there regularly. He attends meetings. He’s in the decision making movements when
we talk about sea level rise and climate change in our community. Misael has been here for a number of months
now, he’s out there working with everyday with people. Then, of course, the sand project is his way
of really bringing all that together. It uses approximately 176 cubic yards of sand. Once I settled on sand, I needed a container,
and so sand bags was the obvious choice. Sand bags being this temporary object that
we rely on during emergencies and knowing that the city had many of them available to
hand out to residents and business owners when there is flooding. We’re very excited because it’s a new way
to engage the community around climate change, environmental issues, be a new voice for how
we’re communicating everything the city is doing, as well as giving a fresh perspective
on the challenges that we have, as well as what the solutions look like. It’s great to have somebody in the room with
a creative background that’s really outside of the normal, Government everyday operations. At the time, I was reading a lot about basic
spaces that provided an opportunity for everyone to kind of state how they were feeling about
something. Or, have a dialogue about something. That led me to this kind of Greek, and then
Roman, structure of an amphitheater, or a theater, or an arena. Those being spaces where this would happen
back then. The surprise that I went though in the first
week was just how hard the work was. The sheer labor of it. The bags weigh upwards of 50, 60 pounds. You’re dropping down and picking each one
individually. Your fingers, your hands are constantly stretched. After the first week, I’d wake up, and I wouldn’t
be able to close my hands in the morning. They’d just kind of be swollen open. It was a lot of work. I underestimated that for myself and then
I underestimated that for the volunteering. Whoever showed up, you soon realize that you
have to surrender to labor. It was hard. You got tired. But you realized it was gonna take the weeks
that Miseal scheduled into this project. I don’t know how I got up everyday. I had a responsibility that I had been given
from ArtCenter and the city to do this work. Somehow creating a public forum, or a public
form of engagement for the community. We’ve been building this in public, and as
it’s been built we’ve been using the structure as an amphitheater, and then a theater, and
then an arena, to sit on and to host lectures, performances, discussions, all around the
topic of sand. From our tribe, from our community, we appreciate
what you’re doing here. We appreciate the fact that you’re acknowledging
an indigenous people into your ceremonies and events and allowing us to speak and be
part of what’s happening. This country has to learn to be a community
before we move forward. I’ve been asked to talk about, sort of a historical
overview of the beach, it’s such a fascinating story. A lot of you all are familiar with bits and
pieces, and maybe even more than that of the story, but I’m glad to share it with you. Especially in this setting here, I just think
it’s so unique. We were the house band, so we were there for
every single iteration. We’d perform a couple live songs and then
we’d do, sort of, mood music. And I ended up changing the lyrics to certain
songs to make them about sand. And then I was playing with the sand and having
these sort of poetic, unexpected moments. Part of it that has surprised me the most
is the exchange it has created in our community. We’re a community of a lot of tourists, but
also, we have 85,000 people on Miami Beach. It’s really begun to create some dialog. I think that’s important for the issues that
we’re facing. I wouldn’t go back and change a single thing. To me, the structure was exactly as large
as it needed to be. It was in direct correlation to how much work,
how much hours myself and those who wanted to help could help and were willing to help. The amount of time that it’s been finished,
which has been three days, to the amount of it took us to get to it being finished, which
has been an entire month. And that said, oh the piece is actually building
it, and it’s not the final structure. It’s a little sad. I’m sad, but in a good way. All right, here we go. It definitely came out of, what I see as a
necessity to create space for discourse. All of these bags will be emptied and the
sand will go back at North Shore Park in North Beach.

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