Art Basel: Our Friends Are Friends With You

“Our practice is mostly about giving people something in their life that is an impactful experience, that is a memorable interaction and something that transcends people. We want to make these moments in your life that you remember.”

So says artistic collective FriendsWithYou, which debuted its newest art installation, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, yesterday at the Mondrian South Beach Pool for Art Basel. Coinciding with creators Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III’s artistic motto, “Magic, Luck and Friendship,” the installation featured colorful gradient geometric objects lounging around the pool for guests to interact with.

“The idea is that you can take it in a bunch of different ways," Borkson explained. "It can be a meditative place, where it’s healing with these lights and these big simple, minimal geometric shapes, or it can be something that’s a joyful, exuberant experience."

The versatile vision melted harmoniously into the aesthetics of the Mondrian’s bayside pool. Art Basel-ers played with the ethereal objects and bulging pairs of inflated eyeballs floating on the water, while others caught the sun’s rays through the semi-transparent orbs suspended over Biscayne Bay while sipping cocktails.

“We’re taking the same anamorphic animism idea from our previous installations and kind of playing around with it," said Sandoval. "If you think about it, by having just the eyes there, you’re making the whole pool a character, or an ethereal space between us and the pool. We’re also trying to exploit the colors, like you’re somehow experiencing the whole range of colors. What we’re trying to do here is really utilize that whole spectrum of color and how it affects people emotionally. The shapes are very minimal; it’s not a sculptural thing. It’s not so much about the object, but about the color and what you’re experiencing by being among them and being bathed in a color.”

FriendsWithYou took inspiration from the Light and Space Movement of the ’60s and ’70s, playing with the relationship between light, color and shapes, but taken to a more emotional level that Borkson and Sandoval believe their audience can relate to.

“It’s not just how light can make you think and how we can explore light, but how we’re really affecting people’s lives by inducing happiness with light and space,” Sandoval said. “We’re taking the ideals and concepts from the movement and making them available. This is like, our dot-com accessible way of experiencing those concepts.”

If you have seen any of FriendsWithYou’s other installations or artwork, you’d notice a movement to a slightly more mature and understated projection of happiness. Somewhere Over the Rainbow shows that the collective isn’t just creating happy characters and bright colors, but a deeper underlying message of spiritual awareness and joyful interaction between their work and their audience.

“It’s still dealing with rainbows, it’s still dealing with minimalist forms, so in many ways it does relate to our other works," said Borkson. "Every object doesn’t have to be so crazy with the striping and characters, sometimes it can be just a gradient purple orb and you get an emotion from that, and it makes you happy in the same way."

The evening came to a close as the sun set and the night transformed the celestial shapes into colorful jewels amongst the bright lights of downtown Miami’s skyline.

Photos By: Kalvin Lazarte

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