The Cracking Art Group were back for this year’s Art Basel / Art Week in Miami. The Italian group, composed of six international artists, made their debut in the United States at the 2010 Art Basel Miami Beach with REgeneration Art Project – 45 giant pink snails that inched their way across Miami – and again in 2012 with “ForEverglades” at Freedom Tower in the Central Business District. This year, we were treated to the Cracking Art Bridge in Wynwood.
Cracking Art Group was formed in 1993 with the philosophy of “a strong social and environmental commitment combined with a revolutionary, innovative use of plastic materials that evoke a close relationship between natural and artificial.” Their name, “Cracking Art” comes from the process of catalytic cracking that transforms oil into naphtha and ultimately polystyrene (plastic).
For the international artists that make up the collective, “Cracking is the process that turns natural artificial, the organic Synthetic. A process dramatic, if not controlled, a split that puts us all in the face of new realities… Cracking is the gap of contemporary man, torn between original naturalness and a future increasingly artificial.”
By using recycled plastic and reclaimed materials, Cracking Art Group strives to remove some of the toxic materials from our environment and turn it into a social statement that will inspire visitors “to play with our cities, to mentally and physically – rebuild them.”
The Pink Snails were part of the international REgeneration Art Project, and have traveled through Paris, Milan, Tel Aviv, Chicago, New York and, of course, Miami. According to the artists, snails represent a “slow retaking of the quality of life, in contrast to the frenetic daily routine which characterize our cities.” The animal also embodies three metaphors: “the hearing, because the snail reminds us the shape of the human ear; the living, because snails carry their home around; and technology, because the symbol” @ (called a ‘snail’ in Italian) is ubiquitous in email and social media.
2012’s ForEverglades Art Week project was “an interior and exterior installation… [to] establish a locally conscious perspective focusing on environmental protection, sustainability, and advocacy of South Florida’s National Parks and Preserves. An exhibition unlike anything else of its kind, FOREVERGLADES will encompass a presentation of 300 animals made out of recyclable plastic, resin, and aluminum, native of South Florida, including three specific regional species: native alligators, sea turtles, and frogs literally crawling up, down and around Miami Dade College’s nationally historic building – a feat never before attempted on the famed structure. For the European-based artists, William Sweetlove and Cracking Art Group, the animals were researched and selected for the important role each play in the development and history of our local landscape.”
This year’s “Cracking Art Bridge” was assembled from reclaimed shipping containers with a collection of the groups iconic giant animals created from recycled plastic. There were meerkats, bears, sea turtles, snails, and even a giant rabbit perched on top of or crawling up the sides of the bright blue shipping containers representing Miami’s ability to “overcome obstacles and difficulties encountered in communication between different cultures.” The shipping containers also represent Miami’s position as “the gateway to the world, where multiple languages are spoken and every day is an understanding of complementing cultures and integration.” Even the Cracking Art Gator made an appearance, watching from a small grassy rise next to the bridge.