Lars Jan hangs out underwater in Holoscenes.



The Weirdest Art Basel Exhibitions We’ve Ever Seen

At Art Basel Miami, things get weird. And by weird, we mean pretty much any insane act or questionable installation is deemed an artistic feat (to be pondered and intellectually discussed, of course). Sure, art has always gone out of its way to provoke reactions from its observers, but at Art Basel, something about the humid Miami air, profuse partiers, and Pitbull club beats paired with the art crowd inevitably attracts some of the craziest exhibitions we’ve seen to date.

In anticipation of our trip to Art Basel 2k16, we’ve dug up five extraordinarily bizarre but nonetheless incredible art exhibitions from Art Basels past. Peruse the perplexing performance art and brace yourselves for a week of stupefying artistry.

Jillian Mayer: H.I.L.M.D.A, 2011

In a video titled H.I.L.M.D.A, artist Jillian Mayer performs her own rendition of the Venus de Milo sculpture, in which she paints herself a chalky white and then proceeds to chew her own arms off…yes, you read that right. If that wasn’t a pleasant enough sight in itself, the spurting blood and gruesome sound effects make for an exhibition that demands your gaze even when you’re simultaneously trying to tear your eyes away—it’s that captivating.

MAYER - Freaky

Lars Jan: Holoscenes, 2015

At Art Basel 2015, artist Lars Jan decided that household tasks were a whole lot more interesting when carried out underwater. We don’t disagree. Dressed in casual clothes, Jan’s performers take part in ordinary activities, like reading the newspaper whilst sipping coffee or untangling garden hoses, except they’re entirely submerged in water. Maybe it’s the swaying fabric or glistening locks of hair, but Jan’s curious exhibition is as spellbinding as it is strange.


Laurie Simmons: “The Audition” from Act 3 of The Music of Regret, 2016

Imagine a massive fake handgun, a book, and piece of birthday cake, all with legs and dancing on a stage in a puzzlingly entertaining production…that’s just what artist Laurie Simmons did for Art Basel of June 2016. The show is reminiscent of gracefully dancing emojis—an act we never thought of as artistic, but Simmons has proved us wrong.


Kate Gilmore, Only One Like You, 2013

Kate Gilmore’s piece Only One Like You for Art Basel 2013 looks like the de-stresser we need right now. Think dudes with long, silky tresses of hair in white tank tops, faded jeans, and Timbs, smashing metal boxes with sledgehammers. We’re not quite sure what message Gilmore is trying to convey, but what we do know is this: sign us up to be her performers next time around.


David Colman, Santa Confessional, 2013

Screw the gingerbread house—artist David Colman shook things up with a gingerbread Catholic confessional booth at Art Basel in 2013. Dressed as Santa Claus himself, Colman invited viewers to enter his booth and confess their sins to good ole St. Nick. And let’s be honest— we all know how Miami partying goes during Art Basel…here’s betting Santa added a lot of people to his Naughty List that year.


Images via Huffington Post, Lars Jan, Laurie Simmons, Kate Gilmore, and David Colman.

Stay tuned for more WTF art moments from Art Basel.

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