This Thursday, from 6 to 8 pm, Fringe Projects will premiere Site of Sound, an interactive underwater performance by artist Cara Despain in partnership with EXILE Books. This new soundscape created by Cara Despain will be experienced in the pool at The Standard Spa. The work creates a soundtrack for the city using found sounds in the storm drains of Miami, serving as a commentary on an issue that the city has struggled with for years: surrounded by water, the heralded growth of Miami is at odds with sea level rise. In a constant battle with storm surges and temporary flooding, invasive water could become a permanent part of Miami’s not-too-distant future.
Site of Sound is the most recent project funded by Fringe Projects. Started in 2012 in tandem with DWNTWN Art Days, Fringe Projects is a commissioning organization that funds temporary public artworks in the city of Miami. Using an open call format, artists submit their ideas under a request for proposal and selected projects are shown for a period of time – from a single event to months in duration. The objective is to engage Miami residents and challenge artists to use the city of Miami as a starting point for their work.
The recent growth of the organization is in no small part due to the appointment of Amanda Sanfilippo as curator in 2013. Sanfilippo sees Fringe Projects as a way to use the whole city as an artistic platform, “Commissioning is so key to contemporary art, so Fringe is really about exploring that, alongside asking the question, ‘What does it mean to produce large-scale experimental work that is open-ended?’ Public works can have such an impact on a city.”
Her vision reflects her training as a curator. Her own relationship with large scale public art developed in the graduate program at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London. It was there that she became interested in the idea of how to ask an artist to use a city as a platform. That led to positions at Creative Time, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, NY and the BCA Center in Burlington, VT. In addition to serving as curator for Fringe Projects, she is currently the development director at Locust Projects, non-profit exhibition space in the Design District that works with local and international artists.
To date Fringe Projects has worked with roster of artists, commissioning works with Miami artists Nicholas Lobo, Emmett Moore, Domingo Castillo and Jillian Mayer. The increasing scale of the pieces has garnered the organization attention: In 2015, Fringe Projects was awarded both a Knight Arts Challenge Grant and a Wavemaker Grant. “The grants will help us expand both the scope and duration of our projects in the future,” says Sanfilippo.
She references public art organizations such as Creative Time, New York and Artangel, London, as inspiration, noting that Fringe Projects takes measures to support artist’s ideas and encourage experimentation, alongside field-work and research.
As for what Fringe could be in the future? Sanfilippo says, “Miami could be a major biennale city and we’re two steps away.”