Scope art fair, in its new location on the West side highway, was packed with gimmicks and glorp, the same gimmicks and glorp from last year. Really. The same crappy work that didn’t sell last year. The same work that I actually recognized because it was that bad. But let’s not talk about that, let’s talk about the good stuff, the fun stuff, and the free stuff.
In contrast with last year’s event at the Lincoln Center, Scope 2011, organized and directed by Mollie White, focused their efforts on amenities, activities, performances, and diversions. These served to distract from the fair itself, in a good way. Amenities included Stephanie Diamond’s Home Away from Home, a comfy nook with magazines, snacks, and free wifi, that provided respite from the overwhelm of the fair. Additionally, in a shrewd move and with a nod to foodies, Roberta’s, the pioneering Bushwick slow-food locavore pizza restaurant, was invited to participate as food and drinks provider for the fair. Fair-goers and exhibitors could also slip in for a quick free pint and some conversation at English Kills artist Andrew Ohanesian’s installation Mandies, a pub/confessional booth. Other performances and social spaces, participatory and otherwise, scattered throughout the fair injected ruptures of ephemeral experience into the otherwise commercial atmosphere, from a decadent tableau-vivant by Jennifer Catron and Paul Outlaw, presented by Artists Wanted, to the much-talked about Come on Guy, the frat party in a cube.
The scene inside Andrew Ohanesian's pub/confessional, Mandies.
In between the fun, free diversions, there was lots of art. Here is some of the good stuff: TYPOE’s Confetti Death, part of Spinello Gallery’s vast booth—three skulls spewing out streams of multicolored plastic shards, broken out of the tops of Krylon spraypaint, a graffiti-styled memento mori. Lilian Garcia-Roig’s immersive booth of paintings of forest landscapes: dense, with generous strokes of bright color. A solo booth of Marion Peck paintings exhibited by Sloan Fine Art, replete with a disturbing sculpture of what looks like a Victorian-era doll-person, lying dead (or just sleeping?) under glass, surrounded by crystals and taxidermied chipmunks. Joshua Hagler’s enormous sculpture of melted army action figures wrapped with fire hose, entitled A Fossilizing Towards, the Name Engorged by Capillarity, at 101/exhibit. Going for another pint at Mandies, pub/confessional. Huge ants crawling up the wall at Bogotá-based Galeria Christopher Paschall’s booth: part of a project by Rafael Gómezbarros, swarming, pestilent installations of the approximately two foot long insects on the faces of notable, politically charged buildings (the proximity to the recent controversy regarding ants crawling on a crucifix was inescapable). Unabashedly mining art history for maximum effect, Newcastle-based Opus Fine Art’s exquisite and meticulously crafted pieces by Hector de Gregorio, and unsettling and humorous re-imagination of old Masters by Charlotte Bracegirdle. Also participating in the mining of art history, Gallery Mac from Korea showing works by Van Gogh as interpreted by Kyu Hak Lee, through a process of wrapping bits of Styrofoam with traditional Korean paper and fragments of books, rendering incarnate Vincent’s each iconic brushstroke. One more pint and a laugh at Mandies. Then at Rare Gallery, masks with cartoony silhouettes by Johnston Foster, made of refuse like old rubber tires, rakes, bike fenders, and scrub brushes. At Krause Gallery, Stephan Zirwes’ aerial photograph of a slum in South Africa, with only the slightest indications revealing it as a view of the filming of the movie District 9. And once again, sloppily stepping back in for one last pint at Mandies.
(*all photos by the author)
Top image: Jennifer Catron and Paul Outlaw.