Inside the Superblue experience in Miami

by Angela Redai

Walking into Superblue’s hotly-anticipated Miami preview was like stepping into a perception-distorting Ganzfeld of sorts, even before standing inside Turrell’s AKHU. My initial reaction was clouded by the excitement of being surrounded by masked familiar faces—was that Pharrell? I could barely tell. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was glued to their phones. After a year of living online, perhaps we’ve forgotten how to view art without a screen as an intermediary. And yes, experiential art enables and capitalizes on the collective addiction to social media. But let’s take a step back and recognize that launching this ambitious concept during a global pandemic took a Serra-scale effort. (And cost a lot. “How much?” “A. Lot.”)

Superblue’s namesake—The Blue Rider association of artists—pursued the spiritual value of art in the 1910s, recognizing how their rapidly modernizing world gave rise to feelings of isolation and alienation. Sound familiar? As history is being written daily these days, I was thrilled to catch up with Marc Glimcher and see the space a second time, in daylight. With my phone tucked away, and the party over, the details began to emerge. Superblue is effectively a warehouse, albeit a chic one, with loading dock doors rendered in an ombré of blues—the most spiritual of all colors. The entrance envelopes you in artist-generated blue gradient walls. Though its exterior gardens are under construction, the location is great: directly across from the Rubell Museum. Will Superblue tip the Allapattah art scene into a must-see for the masses? I think so, in time.

The colossal space is still pretty raw due to the most striking fact that Marc relayed: the minute TeamLab asked to create a room filled with tactile swirling clouds, Superblue pulled the plug on its architect. The budget only allowed for one. In a time when art is increasingly being treated as a financial instrument, Superblue’s power lies in one simple directive: “Artists come first, always.” Not audience, not marketing. Artists.

The opening trifecta of installations is, according to Marc, “A taste of what Superblue will eventually be. Not even the tip of the iceberg.” TeamLab’s interactive AI elements—and commentary on nature—were easier to appreciate amid less chaos. Standing in the digital waterfall generates blossoming ground underfoot. Touching the floral walls accelerates growth and decay. The experience was better without any pressure to “share.” James Turrell was a welcome dose of high art, intrinsically spiritual. Stage designer by training, Es Devlin’s winding mirrored maze was infused with a noticeable amount of passion and unique talent. I can’t wait to see her practice grow.

Marc put it best, “Everyone took something from this they didn’t expect to get, or more substantial than they anticipated.”

When you go—which, you will—try to put your phone away. Stand still. Feel something.