Traffic jam in the sand at Art Basel in Miami Beach

More than 60 car sand sculptures are drawing attention at the Art Basel international festival.
More than 60 car sand sculptures are drawing attention at the Art Basel international festival.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MIAMI • Did vandals go wild and beach some cars at Miami Beach?

Look closer. The more than 60 cars are actually sand sculptures and they are drawing attention at this year's Art Basel international festival. The aim of their creator is as much about raising awareness of climate change as it is about tickling art lovers' palates.

The sand cars, which form what looks like a traffic jam sinking into the world-famous beach, have proven a favourite with visitors who snap wefies in front of the installation, titled Order Of Importance and created by Argentine sculptor Leandro Erlich, 46.

He told reporters on Monday the work is a reflection on the crisis the world is facing due to climate change and "our responsibility, our implication in the events that are starting to happen to the planet".

The title "has to do with understanding what our priorities are right now and thinking about our future", he added.

He was walking among the sand cars with Miami Beach mayor Dan Gelber, who congratulated Erlich on capturing the contradictory nature of Miami Beach, which is built on a fragile barrier island and facing numerous challenges from climate change, yet also reliant on tourism.

"For someone to be able to create a confluence of these things - the environment, the urbanisation, the ecology - so that a person walking by can see it, experience it and think about it in his own way, is spectacular," said Mr Gelber.

Erlich is best known for his work Dalston House, an optical illusion in which he placed a huge mirror at an angle in front of a life-size replica of a house's facade, giving visitors the sense they were hanging off the building's wall.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2019, with the headline 'Traffic jam in the sand at Art Basel in Miami Beach'. Print Edition | Subscribe