The Pérez Art Museum Miami spotlights the experimental films of hometown hero Dara Friedman.
Dara Friedman: Mother Drum, 2016; Three-channel HD video projection with sound Running time 14 minutes, 31 seconds.
There’s more than a little irony behind the Pérez Art Museum Miami’s celebratory staging of Perfect Stranger, a career survey featuring 17 short films by Dara Friedman. While PAMM may rightly salute Friedman as one of this city’s most internationally renowned artists, she remains without a Miami gallery—by choice—making this exhibition not only a welcome immersion in her oeuvre, but a rare chance for locals to see her work, period.
“I think of Miami as the farm,” Friedman explains wryly of her take on the art-world ecosystem. “You grow it here and then you bring it to market, which is New York.” In that vein, consider Friedman’s films—mostly shot on lusciously grainy 16 mm celluloid, not video—like a perennial crop, one rooted firmly in Miami culture. As much as they may focus on the human figure, time and place remain central to their effect. That much is clear from 2011’s “Dancer,” set throughout the streets of downtown Miami, with a sprawling cast creating a dream-like urban choreography, to 1998’s “Government Cut Freestyle,” which captures a string of teenagers launching themselves off a pier at the tip of South Pointe Park, hypnotically arcing through the air in slow motion, and all the way back to 1993’s mesmerizing “Revolution,” as Friedman’s camera follows and slowly rotates around a solitary figure taking a dawn stroll the length of South Beach’s Washington Avenue.
You’ll want a second viewing of “Revolution” simply to hone in on its time-capsule-like portrait of the Beach itself, then on the cusp of its transformation into the American Riviera. There’s an unvarnished, raw appeal to this 1993 streetscape of modest bodegas and bars, one which Friedman ultimately finds just as alluringly beautiful as her lead actor. “It’s like if I photograph or film you, I’m going to show you in your best light,” she offers in her exhibition’s catalog. “I did the city the same way… Naked, just woke up, and rolled-out-ofbed- type beauty.”
Dara Friedman: Perfect Stranger opens Nov. 3 at the Pérez Art Museum Miami. For more information, visit pamm.org.