Miami 2019 – An oval swimming pool, bent in an inverted U-shape and standing upright on a two-tier plinth rises in the center of Miami’s newly-completed Pride Park. Created by Scandinavian duo Elmgreen & Dragset and inaugurated during Miami Art & Design Week, the Bent Pool permanent sculpture might looks like one of the many flamboyant and irreverent installations usually popping around the city, but there is much more than it meets the eye.
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Bent Pool invites to reflect on luxury in the age of climate change. “Due to Miami Beach’s climate and status as a beloved holiday destination, swimming pools are a natural part of the city’s fabric,” explain Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset. On a side there are pool parties, gentrification and extravagant buildings rising all over across the city, on the other side Miami is de-facto drowning due to tropical storms, flooding and the threat of rising sea levels. “The whole city’s landscape is in flux. Bent Pool encourages us to think about how we normally interact with our surroundings: how accessible or inaccessible they appear.”
The monument is also a tribute to Miami Queer culture. Pride Park “is named in acknowledgment of the gay community’s historical contribution to the cultural fabric of Miami Beach. When gay culture was suppressed in other parts of society, if found a way to flourish around pools, not least the public ones.” Say the artists to the New York Times.
With Bent Pool, the artists challenge the conventions of outdoor sculpture and monumentality. Monumental arches commemorate historical battles or mark the ceremonial entrance to a city allowing and accomodate masses of people or heavy traffic. Bent Pool can only by crossed by a person at a time and celebrates the more intimate experience of ‘having a good time by the pool’.
With a turquoise blue interior, one of Elmgreen & Dragset’s signature colors, and a matte white exterior, the work stands out against the greenery of Pride Park at the Miami Beach Convention Center. At first sight it might recall ready-made artworks, but on closer inspection one will discover that this is a carefully crafted object. Identified by details such as its ladder, its diving board and pool lamps.
Bent Pool is the final piece in a series of permanent site-specific works of public art commissioned by Miami’s Art in Public Places Program to be installed on the grounds of the city’s convention centre.
Photography by Robin Hill.