ARTSLANT'S SPECIAL EDITION
FRIEZE NEW YORK #2
Fair-a-thon: The Experience of Way Too Much, with Charles Schultz
Tracy Moffat, First Jobs, Housekeeper, 1975, 2008; Courtesy of Tyler Rollins Fine Art and PULSE Contemporary Art Fairs, C8.
Can you do Frieze, Pulse, and Nada in one day?
Art Critic’s Warning: an experience of Way Too Much may result in the mental and visual impairment known as “art-malaise,” or “A.M.” Symptoms include eyestrain, inability to concentrate, short-term memory loss, stiffening of major muscle groups, emotional exhaustion, and general indifference. Children, pregnant women, and the elderly are at the highest risk.
I used to think the proper way to experience an exhibition of art was slowly, moving at a stroller’s pace and pausing frequently. Stillness seemed necessary if close examination was to be part of the point, which of course it was. After all, looking at art was serious business, a solemn procedure, a moment for reverence and reflection. I picked up this behavior watching others and never questioned it until one afternoon back in 2008. I was lingering over a fine marble statue in one of the neo-classical sculpture galleries of the Tate Britain when suddenly zoom! a woman in a track suit sprinted past me. Half a minute later here comes a man, legs thrusting, arms pumping, head thrown back; swoosh! his footfall creating a great echoing racket in the high ceilinged space. When I asked a guard what was going on he informed me that the runners were part of Martin Creed’s latest effort, “Work No 850.” The best advice he gave me was to look both ways before crossing the hall.
Yuji Agematsu, Untitled (March 15, 2012), 2012, Mixed media in cigarette cellophane, approx 3 x 2 x .75 in. Courtesy of Real Fine Arts. At NADA NY, Booth 50, 4th fl.
I still walk, often slowly, through art galleries, but since that afternoon I’ve at least been conscious of my movement, aware that it’s only one of many ways to experience works of art, and who am I to rank methodologies? What I do know is that finding one’s limits, the edges of the old comfort zone, is more profound than setting them arbitrarily. Until you’ve spent an entire day in a museum, open to close, how can you really appreciate dropping in for the quick hour? Extreme positions have a tendency of informing one’s perspectives more drastically than moderate ones. This may be obvious, but it’s really quite rare for us creatures of comfort to willfully abandon the habits and routines that structure our daily doings. Well, this is an invitation to do just that, here’s a marathon experience for the art viewer: The “Fair-a-thon.”
Banks Violette, Untitled (88), 2011-12, steel, two parts, 79 x 47 1/2 x 12 inches each, courtesy Team Gallery, at Frieze C4.
First the facts: in a single afternoon you’ll visit three art fairs, and pass by 307 galleries; you’ll travel by foot, ferry, train, and bus; you’ll need $60 to cover admission fees, and let’s say $10 for transportation. You’ll see the work of more than 1000 artists and every continent will be represented. It could be fun, but it’s not going to be easy, though I can just about guarantee that you’ll be intrigued and perhaps surprised by what work ends up sticking in your mind when you finally come to rest, thank god or whomever, at an establishment serving adult beverages.
Here’s how it goes: the Fair-a-thon begins at high noon, when the fair grounds open...
See you in New York!
–the ArtSlant Team
FAIR WATCH - Trudy Benson
Trudy Benson, Snowball, 2012, Acrylic, oil enamel, spray paint, and oil on canvas, 63 x 68 in; Courtesy of Mike Weiss Gallery, at Pulse, A7.
Trudy Benson's paintings are bold and bright, made of total material excess. ArtSlant's New York team has had their eyes on this artist for quite some time. Read Aldrin Valdez's review of Benson's latest exhibition at Mike Weiss Gallery, and Emily Nathan's review of Benson's first solo show, following her graduation from Pratt:
Her application of paint seems everywhere intentional: when it cracks, it cracks; when it drips, it drips. It smudges, scuffs and peels, it stands away from the canvas, inserts itself literally into your space, and when it strokes it is as smooth and seamless as a bicycle-frame. To appreciate the works’ materiality is one thing; to recognize that the works are declaratively about their material, and, further, to integrate this very physical experience of art-viewing into an arsenal of experiences which are generally anything but—are critical, sarcastic, disaffected, diluted, self-deprecating—is a truly welcome aberrance.
FAIR WATCH - Trevor Paglen
Trevor Paglen, “The Clarke Belt” (Dead Communications and Surveillance Spacecraft in Perpetual Earth Orbit), 2012, C-print, 48 x 60 in. Courtesy of Altman Siegel Gallery. Frieze Focus, F5
Showing with San Francisco's Altman Siegel Gallery in the Frieze Focus section of the fair, Trevor Paglen will show three new photographs of satellites and weapons testing ranges. Paglen's stunningly beautiful prints belie their rather dark and necessarily mysterious subject matter. For more on Paglen's work read Brady Welch's review of his exhibition at Altman Siegel last year:
[Paglen's] deeply compelling visions of the sublime are channeled through a vast and shadowy network of military spy satellites, unmanned drones, and desert testing grounds. By working at great distance, literally shooting his photos miles from his subjects, Paglen gives form to a largely redacted reality. It is only a version of truth, of course, and a partial one at that. But they are a statement or a reality—of an existence—where before there was none.
TALK OF THE TOWN - Some Full Circle on Randall's Island: John Ahearn at Frieze Projects
by Natalie Hegert
Sculptors John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres will be presenting a reconstruction of their seminal 1979 exhibition, South Bronx Hall of Fame, for Frieze Projects. Natalie Hegert considers the significance of Ahearn's work on the site of Randall's Island--which formerly housed the headquarters of Robert Moses, the powerful urban planner who created the conditions from which Ahearn drew his populist subject matter.
John Ahearn, "South Bronx Hall of Fame at Fashion Moda," Bronx NY 1979. Torres (left, in white undershirt) and Ahearn (center) during casting of Carlos, with Fashion Moda co-directors, Stefan Eins and Joe Lewis (standing background, left to right). Photo by Christoph Kohlhofer.
Some people living in New York have great views, most don’t. Where I lived in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, the view from the front of the apartment overlooked an off-ramp from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Day and night trucks would rumble past, slamming into potholes and screeching on their brakes. The building would literally shake—a constant earthquake—with the only respite on Sunday mornings or during the occasional blizzard. If any windows were left open, within a few hours a layer of fine soot would settle on my desk, on the window sills, on the counter tops, on the coffee table—the black grimy airborne remnants of the countless rubber tires wearing away with each rotation on the BQE. Greenpoint is a sweet little neighborhood just a few blocks away, but where I lived it was miserable: loud, dirty, miserable.
Many such expressways criss-cross the boroughs, all because of one man: Robert Moses, the urban planner and “master builder” of mid-twentieth-century New York. Along with his parkways, expressways, plazas, tunnels, and bridges, Moses created many of the parks New Yorkers enjoy today. Yet he also displaced over 250,000 people and demolished hundreds of buildings to make way for his projects: like the Cross-Bronx Expressway that cut right through the middle of the South Bronx, transforming it from a viable, working-class neighborhood into one of the worst slums in the United States. His biographer, Robert Caro, described Moses gazing at an enormous map of the city that hung on his office wall, as “a sculptor who wanted to sculpt not clay or stone but a whole metropolis.” Moses never compromised his Corbusian vision for the city based on human cost; when asked whether he found it difficult to build expressways through dense urban centers, he simply replied, “There are more people in the way — that’s all."
John Ahearn, Butch and Earl, 1979, acrylic on plaster, 33 x 18 x 10 in; Courtesy of Alexander and Bonin, New York. Photo Jason Mandella.
In 1979, seven years after the Cross-Bronx Expressway was completed, at a time when the South Bronx was in the throes of destitution, John Ahearn presented an exhibition called South Bronx Hall of Fame at the young art center Fashion Moda. Ahearn is a sculptor; but unlike Robert Moses who cast aside people to sculpt his metropolis, Ahearn immortalizes those selfsame people in plaster busts and in life-size statues. Ahearn set up shop outside of Fashion Moda’s Bronx storefront, which had been established by fellow Colab artist Stefan Eins a year earlier (see my interview with Eins), and, along with his collaborator Rigoberto Torres, created plaster life-casts of neighborhood people, artists, friends, local children, as well as junkies from the methadone clinic across the street. These plaster busts were then painted, and mounted on the wall, high above eye level, as though these people, everyday people, were gazing down on you like a pantheon of demi-gods...
Read more of Natalie's article on John Ahearn's South Bronx Hall of Fame on Randall's Island here...
Thank you to Frieze and all of the galleries, organizations, institutions, curators and artists who bring us this New York extravaganza.
For more information on our Special Edition packages featuring ArtSlant Insiders and Watchlist for galleries, artists and art services, please contact Sunny@artslant.com.