A few years ago, around the time Misael Soto was asked to contribute to an exhibition on sea-level rise for Miami-Dade County, the artist drove down a flooded Indian Creek Drive in Miami Beach while two gas-powered pumps sucked sea water from the road and spewed it back into the bay. It was, as Soto recalls, an utterly absurd scenario.
“The water during king tides would just come right over the seawall, and so they would put pumps along the roadway, and they’d pump water out into the Intracoastal,” Soto says. “But [the water] was all at the same level, so it was literally doing nothing. It was just noise.”
Three years later, Soto co-opted the city’s apparent incompetence into an artwork of their own. Flood Relief, a 2017 installation that was part of a series on sea-level rise sponsored by Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs’ Art in Public Places, included multiple industrial water pumps that perpetually pumped water in and out of Biscayne Bay. The installation was placed at Museum Park outside Pérez Art Museum.