Art and the Turn to Unreal Estate: A Night with Carlos Rigau

We met on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, and I was feeling bad not because it was Yom Kippur but because I am Jewish, and the day was like any other. I walked up to the building with the Superman mural on it, its face protruding off the wall, and though you usually have to buzz to get in, the door was open. Gotham City Lounge is small, dingy, and the paraphernalia—freakish figures from this and that comic book universe—is dimly lit.

While waiting, I day dreamt about General Practice, the foreclosed house gallery that Carlos Rigau ran in Miami. It was a haunted house-shaped casualty of the Great Recession, an absolute outlier on the luxury grid of the growing Design District, bought by a gallerist who hosted a couple exhibitions, who then had to foreclose. Rigau then took the helm, and ran it alongside Ibett Yanez, Nick Klein and Carlos Ascurra as GP.

I lived there in mid-2014 after Rigau moved back to New York, as the two-story crypt approached eviction—I narrowly avoided the police’s removal of everything in the house by about 12 hours. Following that, the house was bought, then flipped, then bought again this past April for over half-a-million dollars. These transactions took place without anyone actually living in it (or at least, no one that was supposed to). The house is an almost-corpse of these speculative times, a harbinger of the 21st century turn to unreal estate, where property and land is more investment asset than physical entity for residential, commercial, or cultural use.

[Published in Temporary Art Review on October 16, 2015. Read the rest here.]

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