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Now on Display

"Michael Joo" -- Stripped of all the art babble the artist likes to surround his art with, Joo's work, though essentially conceptual, often has an amazing visceral impact. That's "visceral" both in terms of the viewer's reaction to it and in terms of the subject matter -- and sometimes even the actual content -- of the art. In this first American survey of Joo's output, all created within the past decade, humans and animals are at the heart of much of his most powerful pieces. He's among a new breed of artists who combine nature and science in ways that are sometimes disturbing and almost always provocative. In Caribou Taxidermy (2003), for example, a fully preserved caribou hangs from wires, positioned on its side, with three video cameras and corresponding monitors positioned at different points around the animal so that you can see yourself examining the creature from various vantage points. You can even stick your head inside the gutted carcass, and I'd have to describe the scent not as that of death but that of life frozen in time. It's not surprising to learn that Joo is linked with the famous (some would say infamous) young British artist Damien Hirst, known for displaying similarly preserved animals in tanks filled with various chemical solutions. Indeed, Joo's caribou and a couple of other pieces are on loan to the exhibition courtesy of Hirst, who gave Joo a big boost when he included him in the 1994 show "Some Went Mad, Some Ran Away" at the Serpentine Gallery in London. (Through June 6 at the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, 601 Lake Ave., Lake Worth, 561-582-0006.)

"Love & Slavery in Miami" -- Willie Keddell is an artist who tills the fields of perception. The urban furrows of marginality are his seedbed of imagination. His work's soulful aesthetic is abundant with concrete decay, the graffiti of untrod spaces, and the plaintive lament of the dispossessed. With assistance from a crew of "at risk" teenage apprentices from the Troy Community Academy, Keddell has brought an artist's sensibility to the tangled history of two Miami landmarks -- the William English plantation/slave house Fort Dallas and the Wagner homestead, now located in Lummus Park by the Miami River. "Love & Slavery in Miami" is a project exhibiting historical documentation and photography of the landmarks' pasts, as well as a performance piece based on the lives of the Wagner family. (Ongoing. Tours 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Thursday and Saturdays by appointment. Lummus Park, 404 NW Second St., Miami, 305-638-7008.)

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