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Overload ignites the senses at Vizcaya

New Contemporary Arts Program exhibition opens December 6

MIAMI (October 16, 2017)

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens presents Overload, a new Contemporary Arts Program (CAP) exhibition on view December 6, 2017 through April 2, 2018.  Four artists have been commissioned to explore the activation of the senses in this immersive exhibition created for the estate. Artists include David Brooks (NY, NY), Orlando Jacinto Garcia (Miami, FL), Arnout Meijer (Amsterdam, NL) and Tanja Smeets (Utrecht, NL). The artists' work emphasizes engagement and considers how the activation of the senses can alter the experience of a space.

The exhibition marks the first occasion where CAP commissions work by international artists. Alongside Miami-based composer Orlando Jacinto Garcia and New York–based artist David Brooks, Overload presents the work of Dutch artists Arnout Meijer and Tanja Smeets. Global perspective is a cornerstone of Vizcaya's history, and we are pleased to have an international group of artists respond to Vizcaya for Overload.

An opening night event will be held December 5, 2017 from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. where guests can meet the artists and have a first-look at the exhibition. Tickets for opening night are $10 for the general public.

CAP is supported as part of the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York, the Mondriaan Fund and The Danielson Foundation. Additional support is also provided by the Chauncey and Marion D. McCormick Family Foundation; Deering Foundation; the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs; and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

The artists and installations:

Orlando Jacinto Garcia
b. 1954, Havana, Cuba; lives in Miami, FL
Deconstructed Strings
Vizcaya's Music Room

Once the winter residence of James Deering and the site of festive gatherings and frivolous leisure, Vizcaya was a lively home teeming with immersive experiences. Music was an integral part of that landscape. Functioning musical instruments would have been found throughout the house, including a monumental pipe organ in the Living Room and a player piano that played into the Breakfast Room. The sounds of these instruments permeated the entire home through a system of vents designed for that purpose. Deering took music onto Biscayne Bay as well––there was a player piano onboard his yacht, the Nepenthe.

Composer Orlando Jacinto Garcia transforms the Music Room through an engaging sound experience. The harp, harpsichord and dulcimer that occupy the room have been long dormant, only evoking the melodies they once produced, since they can no longer be played due to their fragility. In Garcia's immersive, interactive sound composition, the listener becomes the activator. Visitors "play" digital samples of the original harp, harpsichord and dulcimer by passing by motion-activated sensors––new compositions are arranged and rearranged as visitors move through the space.

As part of Overload, Garcia also wrote, Those at peace shall see their wake, an original composition for the swimming pool. The arrangement for a string trio on cello, violin and viola, as well as electronics, utilizes the sounds of underwater sea life and the marine fantasy ceiling in the swimming pool grotto as inspiration. The performance will be on January 26, 2018, at 7:00 p.m. with a limited number of tickets available.


Tanja Smeets
b. 1963, Wijchen, Netherlands; lives in Utrecht, Netherlands
Liquid Garden
Vizcaya's North Gallery

The Main House's proximity to and interaction with the natural environment that surrounds it is one of its main distinguishing design features. The enveloping landscape borders the house to the north, south and west and the shoreline of Biscayne Bay lies directly to the east. Ironically, while experiencing the immersive details of the decorated rooms, visitors can sometimes overlook the lush landscape that surrounds them.

With Liquid Garden Tanja Smeets remedies this by bringing the outdoors inside. Her large organic structures infiltrate the space as if they grew there naturally, and seem to suggest they have always been there, interwoven with the dominant characteristics of the architecture. Located on the south gallery of the second floor, the work's plantlike roots crawl over the floor, developing into large, uprising stems and new plant systems. These plants adapt themselves to the space they are in, like a chameleon would to a new environment. Through Smeets's process, a level of tension and unpredictability are introduced to spaces that are normally teeming with control, precision and logic. The imbalance and disruptive quality introduced by this juxtaposition is at the core of the installation.


David Brooks
b. 1975, Brazil, Indiana; lives in New York
Of Discriminating Artistic Feeling
Vizcaya's Main House, various locations

Beyond the agricultural initiatives James Deering's staff undertook to make Vizcaya self-sustainable, the estate also supported a variety of creatures. In addition to cows, horses and chickens, in the estate’s archives Deering makes note of a handful of birds and animals he paid particular aesthetic attention to, including two macaws, two doves, two pairs of monkeys and their offspring (one was named Irene), one owl and a small number of canaries and finches.

Of Discriminating Artistic Feeling consists of three cages displayed in the Main House in areas that originally housed Deering's birds and animals. Although Deering enjoyed having these pets and took various measures to ensure their comfort, he didn't like the noise they made. Brooks's installations highlight the distinct nonhuman presence these residents contributed to the estate, and how their habitats and sounds contributed to the overall immersive experience of Vizcaya.


Arnout Meijer
b. 1988, Rotterdam, Netherlands; lives in Amsterdam, Netherlands
46020 ft3 cyan/yellow
Vizcaya's Entrance Loggia, East Loggia, Courtyard, Dining Room

The work of Arnout Meijer explores the relationship between reality and illusion and can be characterized by his ongoing investigations of perception, light, sound, and culture. In Meijer's site-specific installation of colored film and bulbs at Vizcaya, visitors become aware of their own unique sense of sight. 

A patchwork of original Roman statues, invented coats of arms, and electric "candles" combines to create a hyperreal Renaissance estate. The artificial illusions––composed of materials considered to be fake, real, marble, concrete, old, and new––are not discarded as imitation, but instead present a new, multilayered reality. Throughout the exhibition the work will change as the position of the sun and the other elements in the sky change. Just as people around the world see the same sun but a different sky, visitors can only experience a complete picture of 46020 ft3 cyan/yellow from multiple positions in order to take in the illusionary effects that shape their reality.


Related programs (subject to change):

December 4, 2017, 7:00–8:00 p.m.
Behind the Velvet Rope: Overload with Arnout Meijer and Tanja Smeets. An exclusive Vizcaya members-only pre-opening tour of Overload led by artists Meijer and Smeets. Tickets for members: $5.

December 5, 2017, 7:00–10:00 p.m.
Opening Night: Overload. Be one of the first to see the exhibition, meet the artists and experience Vizcaya. Tickets: Free for Vizcaya Members; $10 for general public.

January 26, 2018, 7:00–9:00 p.m.
Behind the Velvet Rope: Overload performance with Orlando Jacinto Garcia. An exclusive Vizcaya members-only performance of Those at peace shall see their wake by Overload artist Orlando Jacinto Garcia. Tickets reserved for Preservationist and Conservator members and for the James Deering Society only. Join Vizcaya online at

February 9, 2018, 6:00–10:00 p.m.
Bioblitz Nocturnal Edition featuring a project designed by David Brooks. Tickets $18 for adults; $6 for children. Purchase tickets online at

February 28, 2018, 6:00–9:00 p.m.
Gardens by Moonlight: Overload Edition. Stroll through Vizcaya's formal gardens by moonlight and explore the Overload exhibition in the Main House. Tickets $20 for adults, $15 for children. Purchase tickets online at

April 1, 2018, 7:00–9:00 p.m.
Overload: Program with David Brooks. Special program with Overload artist David Brooks. Tickets: $10.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is open Monday through Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; closed Tuesdays, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Vizcaya is located at 3251 South Miami Avenue, Miami, FL 33129. For more information, visit, connect via social media, or call 305-250-9133.



Editors' Note: Links to images of simulation of Tanja Smeets’s installation, Liquid Garden. Photographer credit: David Almeida