It’s Bigger than Basel

In Beats + Bytes by Nue Agency

While Art Basel celebrates its 20th year in Miami, it’s really Miami Art Week as a whole that has everyone’s attention. It feels like the early days of SXSW down here and it’s so much bigger than Basel now.

Don’t get me wrong: the main events – Basel, Scope, Miami Art Design, Untitled – and hot-button galleries are still doing their thing. But what’s most exciting is how many brands are showing up and how much Web3’s presence is being felt. For someone who believes brand x art collabs are under tapped culturally, last week was a dream.

Brands turned up to engage with commercial, tastemaker, and luxury consumers, and did so effectively and authentically. Shouts to Alo, whose glow up continues apace. Their brand was everywhere this week, helping people refresh and recenter. Macallan premiered its new M Collection whisky, which costs more than $8,000 a bottle, and gave us an intimate James Blake performance on the lawn of the Bass Museum of Art. Meta (thee Meta) launched its new NFT marketplace and catered to creators but, perhaps most important for me personally, did it at the new Miami Soho House which opened blocks from my house 🙂 We outside!

While there’s definitely a world out there that doesn’t know the difference between crypto and web3, that’s not the crowd that was in Miami last week. These folks were savvy and undeterred by the SBF x FTX fiasco. Web3 comprised about 20% of the events, much more than last year, and is, I believe, on its way to a 50/50 share of the focus in traditional art spaces.

Other memorable partnerships included Hennessy and FWB’s speakeasy called Cafe 11; Nike’s RTFKT premiere of their insane physical sneaker; and endemic star, Gmoney’s awesome clothing drop where you minted your apparel to the blockchain in true one of one fashion. Porsche even opened up about their Web3 plans at nft now’s activation, The Gateway. New brands were popping up too like ARKIVE which is building a virtual museum using a DAO structured community. They “won” this year at Art Basel by showing how partnerships and relationships are the way “in” to the traditional artworld as a Web3 brand. There were also plenty of examples of ticketing done on-chain and, although some of it was still faulty, it was much easier and more ubiquitous than I’ve seen at past events. Baby steps, baby.

The convergence of IRL and URL, in my humble opinion, is the future of both the art world and the brand identity industry. Miami Art Week 2022 was a testament to the blockchain entering the physical world and impacting the way people interact with intellectual property and each other.

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Also published on Medium.