David Gryn: Sound and Vision

Returning to curate the Art Basel Miami Beach Film program for a sixth year, David Gryn explains why music has inspired his choices, and how audiences can catch a glimpse of the 'Best Dressed Chicken in Town'.

Each year, as evening darkens the skies over Art Basel Miami Beach, visitors gather on the lawns of SoundScape Park to experience video works from some of the world's most exciting artists. Sharing picnics, drinks, or simply being absorbed by art, they sit beneath the towering 7,000 square foot projection wall of the New World Center as it displays a program of films carefully chosen by curator David Gryn.

"My selections are quite instinctive," says Gryn. "I am often attracted by artworks that affect me like music does; a thud in my chest, reverberations through my body, tingles down my neck and spine." Fittingly then, music is the theme of this year's program. "As [the New World Center is] a concert venue, music is inherent to the place we show the work and contextually it has a strong resonance. Asking galleries to submit films which engage with music in some way felt like a natural choice."

Through this year's theme, Gryn hopes to create a larger-than-life show to excite and engage the broadest possible audience. "Music is something universal. When you have dialogue in a certain language, you often exclude people outside it. Music, like art, crosses that divide – a sort of abstract language that has its own voice and says something about the human condition."

Be enveloped by art

The program includes a set of 28 short films screened under the title Best Dressed Chicken in Town. "This was named after the 1970s reggae track by Doctor Alimantado, which has long inspired me. The idea behind it was to combine artworks using music and sound which, over the program's two hour span, swell to a crescendo," Gryn explains. And though he will not be drawn on a favorite this year ("I picked them, so they're all my favorites!"), he singles out Terrorist of Love by Keren Cytter as being a film which never fails to make him smile, while Wilhelm Sasnal's Kiss is "utterly wonderful."

In addition to the screening of films, this year also heralds the third edition of Surround Sound, a specially commissioned program of sound works designed to take full advantage of SoundScape Park's 160 speaker surround sound system. "I view my role as that of a facilitator. I aim to serve the artwork, the artist, and the gallery well by presenting pieces which will have the most resonance with the audience in the setting that we have."

The communal act of experiencing art in this way is something special, says Gryn. "You get a sense of excitement, something you can palpably feel. You really do see an audience being enveloped by art. That's what this platform achieves – and it encourages galleries, their artists, and a wider audience to take time with mediums that often don't get much of a look in at events like this. There's not another experience quite like it in the context of an art fair. Period."