With the arrival of Armory Week, last year’s experiment of Armory versus Frieze is rearing its ugly head, and settling itself into reality. The splash that Frieze made last year on the enchanted (Roosevelt) Island of art lured satellite fairs Pulse and NADA to jump ship from March to May, but Scope, Fountain and the Armory’s little sister, VOLTA, remain Armory Week fixtures. To up their game, both Scope and VOLTA have shed their trade-show like skins, and relocated to historic (and more accessible) venues, following Fountain’s lead last year with their move from the Frying Pan to the gorgeous 69th Regiment Armory.
The Armory Show planted its foot in the now by joining forces with Artsy (which is no longer Art.sy…) by presenting a thorough digital preview of what to expect at both piers. The online preview is far less intimidating than the throngs of people and endless booths at the fair, but of course not as fun. However, the entire fair is neatly organized and accessible with categories like Surrealistic/Fantastic, Women Artists and Figuration: Post-War to Now. Browsing the digital files is given more substance with selections, quotes and writings from guest curators Eric Shiner, John Elderfield, Howard Rachofsky and Dasha Zhukova.
Winston Chmielinski, Rub Dry, 2012, oil on canvas, 48 x 36 inches; courtesy of envoy enterprises. At Volta NY.
In anticipation of an influx of new visitors this year, VOLTA has made a move from the stuffy trade show-feeling venue in blasé Herald Square to a gorgeous hardwood 19th-century loft building in SoHo. Aside from the sparkly new venue, VOLTA promises to thoroughly educate its visitors by presenting a program of emerging artists like Winston Chmielinski to Venice Biennale veteran Radomir Damnjan. VOLTA’s programming pushes even further, by engaging visitors with the forefront of defining Caribbean art in ARC Magazine’s roundtable discussion with artists Heino Schmid, Charles Campbell and Christopher Cozier, with Michelle Joan Wilkinson and Editor-in-Chief Holly Bynoe.
SCOPE is also upping its ante, relocating to the beautiful (and beautifully accessible) former post office, Skylight at Moynihan Station, across from Penn Station. This year’s special programming is highlighted with a site-specific installation by Pop Surrealist master (and recent Simpsons character) Ron English. Ever criticizing the over-consumerism of American culture, Culture Jam Supermarket will be a sharp commentary on advertising and our adjusted acceptance of social norms. Sonic Youth guitarist and long time visual artist Lee Ranaldo will show his ink and oils at the Whitehot Presents booth, part of the fair’s Breeder program, which fosters emerging galleries and curators. Highlights from exhibitors will also appear on the Google FieldTrip app for Android, in a partnership with Art Nerd New York.
Sophia Wallace, CLITERACY: 100 Natural Laws; courtesy of Baang & Burne Contemporary. At Scope, part of the Breeder Program.
Marking the 100-year anniversary of the seminal Armory Show of 1913 at the 69th Regiment, Fountain Art Fair will honor the historic fair that originally showed its namesake—Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain readymade. In celebration, they’ve partnered with Robots Will Kill and Mighty Tanaka to transform the Armory’s rafters into an oversized hanging street art installation. Twenty canvases will drape the historic ceiling with site-specific works by different sects of the New York street art community.
The war of the New York art fair weeks continues for a second round, with the predicted snowfall already throwing a wrench in Armory Week’s victory plans. Will changing up venues and amping up special installations bring Armory Week in for the win? Time will tell.
(Image at top: Bjarne Melgaard, at the booth of Guido W. Baudach, Greene Naftali & Krinzinger, Armory Show 2012; photo by Natalie Hegert.)