Dec 3, 2022 - Economy

The most Miami artwork in Miami

MSCHF's ATM at Art Basel

Photo: MSCHF

The ATM is the new banana.

Why it matters: Art Basel Miami Beach is the art fair that best exemplifies the triumph of buzz over connoisseurship. Three years ago, the buzz surrounded a banana; this year, it's a machine that displays your checking account balance for all to see.

The big picture: The work, by MSCHF, is a critique of the vulgar exhibitionism that Miami is famous for year-round, but especially during art week; it's also the prime example of it.

How it works: Anybody (or at least anybody who has gained access to the art fair) can participate in the work by inserting their ATM card, entering their PIN, and checking their balance. The artwork then displays their balance on a leaderboard, highest balance first, accompanied by a photograph of the person who inserted the card.

  • When Axios last checked, the top score was held by a man in a pink T-shirt boasting a $2.9 million balance.

Between the lines: The hypebeast culture that MSCHF emerged from is driven by self-loathing consumers who buy brands' output despite knowing it has no intrinsic quality, just because they also know that it is worth more on the secondary market than they are paying for it.

  • All parallels to the primary art market are entirely intentional.

The bottom line: Miami is the spiritual home of people who really want other folks to know how rich they are. MSCHF has now given them a way of doing exactly that, protected only by the thinnest veneer of irony.

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