Ruba Katrib has made both a home and name for herself in the six years she’s been in Miami as the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami’s Associate Curator. She has organized solo shows with artists like Cory Arcangel, Claire Fontaine and Ryan Trecartin, keeping Miami ahead of the curve all year round. We caught up with her during the city’s craziest week …
The Standard: What does ten years of Art Basel mean for Miami. How have you seen the city’s art scene grow and change?
Ruba Katrib: I’ve seen incredible transformation over these years. A striking development is that the city is happening all year round, local artists are working less for this one week and focusing on being active outside of “season.” Also, artists, curators, dealers, and collectors are stopping by the city more and more throughout the year. My calendar is always booked with people visiting as well as small and large local cultural happenings. I think this is the result of the city really accepting ABMB as part of the cultural landscape. While the fair is still very important, it’s no longer the central focus of the city’s art scene anymore, a great sign of maturity.
By Cory Arcangel
What is unmissable during Art Basel this year?
Of course you can’t miss Mark Handforth’s first museum survey at MOCA, the exhibition features new and older works brought together in an impressive installation. Also, Art Public, a new feature of Art Basel Miami Beach looks very promising as a curatorial endeavor that stretches from the lawn of the Bass Museum to the beach.
What do locals really think of everyone who comes down for the art fairs?
I think people are genuinely happy to see the art fair crowds roll in. Of course, the influx makes our lives a little harder and traffic is definitely worse, but overall the city embraces our out-of-town friends.
Is Miami more like New York or LA?
Someone once told me that Miami is LA in the 1970s. I think we have oceans and driving in common, but Miami really has a distinct character that makes it stand on its own.
How often do you go to the beach?
I never used to go for some reason, but now I make myself head out to the beach, even if for a quick 20 minute dip and some sun bathing.
What is your favorite project you’ve produced while here in Miami?
It’s really hard to pick a specific project. For each exhibition I’ve worked on, from Claire Fontaine’s museum survey to group shows like The Reach of Realism and the last exhibition I’ve curated, Modify, as needed, I’ve produced a lot of new work with the artists involved, which is something that I find very fulfilling. Each experience working with artists is unique and exciting.
Nina Beier, (Detail) From The Demonstrators, 2011 - Part of Ruba’s Modify exhibit
Where do you like to travel?
I enjoy traveling. I really think I would go anywhere and like it. Recently, I’ve been traveling throughout Latin America, a destination that definitely connects with Miami. I organized a symposium that took place at MOCA last May called “New Methods” that focused on contemporary arts organizations that provide a nexus of education and international connections for local artists. I was able to visit Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico and Puerto Rico for the preparatory research with a grant I was awarded through the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
How did the project turn out?
It was fantastic, representatives from eight organizations, Beta-Local, Lugar a Dudas, Centro de Investigaciones Artisticas, Kiosko Galeria, Capacete, Proyectos Ultravioleta, SOMA, and Casa Tres Patios, came to Miami to discuss their programs and contexts. It was a very intense but productive meeting. I am currently working on a publication to document and elaborate on what took place during the symposium.
What’s your favorite city you visited?
It’s hard to pick one, but Mexico City feels kind of like a second home. It’s very established in contemporary art and there is just a lot of great stuff (and great people) down there.
And where is the most exciting up and coming art scene?
Bogota is very exciting at the moment. The art scene is really active, energized, and booming. I am really excited to see what comes out of that city over the next few years.
What is the biggest myth about Miami?
I think everything you’ve probably heard about Miami is true, but it’s also so much more. This city offers so many wide-ranging experiences that it’s impossible to define in a brief description. It’s a great place to explore.
Have you ever met Pitbull?
I wish, hopefully one day!