ARTSLANT'S SPECIAL EDITION
New York Armory Week #1
Dean Monogenis, The Sea’s Between Us, 2011, acrylic on wood panel, 40 x 50 inches. Courtesy the artist and Walter Maciel, LA
Gearing Up! with Trong Gia Nguyen & the ArtSlant Team
Consider this the GIZMODO edition of Armory week, or as New York Knickerbockers now call it, Lin-Armory. Since the fair circuit is gradually moving into a virtual world where Big Brother can track your every taste and passion with ever more incremental precision, this Optimus primer gets you ready for the Matrix that is to come.
For each of the corresponding eleven fairs, we will recommend an accompanying, indispensable tech gadget to take along with you – to augment reality and render the experience that much more enjoyable, constructed, and mediated. (By the way VIP Fair, that "chat" function did not work very well! Tsk! Tsk!)
We got what you want… You get what you need.
Perhaps nipped at the heel by Frieze’s forthcoming occupation of Randall’s Island in May, the big boy on the block lost some weight this year, whereby the number of galleries has been sliced in half. Founding director Paul Morris has unfortunately re-categorized this year's Armory as a “boutique fair.” What will it become in 2013 –Beacon’s Closet for the Arts? Good news is, the bully's punch still seems to be packed, and the beefy program unleashes a number of shiny elements: architectural re-design of the floorplan by Bade Stageberg Cox; a focused section on Nordic Art; commissioned artwork by uber-trendy Chi-towner Theaster Gates, the galvanized Contemporary and Modern piers; and “Armory Film” curated by the Moving Image Fair.
In collaboration with Paddle 8, a substantial amount of the work to be exhibited is already online for viewing! Just register for an account and away you go (even before you actually go). Consider this the ultra-deluxe VIP preview, with virtual MoMA party to follow.
Tech-Gear-Must: iPad 3 with 4G. It’s not out yet, or rather it’s slated to be any day now according to the Mac geek rumor mill, but have your intern or assistant run over to Cupertino and snag a beta immediately, to make sure you have yours in time for live 3-D Facebook blogging at the real MoMA party. By the way, can’t they save some money one year, invite everyone for $10, and just have a vertical block party in Trump Tower?
James Clar, Ball and Chain (2010). Courtesy the artist and Blythe Projects.
We’ve always admired Volta’s solo artist focus, and this year should be a solid non-exception. The fair also produces distinctive, collectible catalogs over which exhibitors and artists exert complete content control. For the year of the dragon, the individual exhibitors' pages will be loosened from the binding and available at each respective booth. Hunt and gather.
Welcome to Company will also host their art television program finale at Volta. Art/Trek NYC, which debuted on NYC Life, is a five-borough quest discovering emerging visual artists in New York City. The winner is receiving his or her debut solo gallery show at the fair.
Tech-Gear-Must: How about an autonomous Honda robot? Why bother taking your own notes and accosting gallerists? This little helper can do all the dirty little work to your heart’s discontent. Volta… Meet Voltron. Well, sort of.
Oliver Payne, Untitled, 2011, Collage. Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown's enterprise, NY
Independent, “the temporary exhibition forum devised by and for gallerists,” as professed on its website, readies for business once again in the old Dia Center for the Arts Building on 22nd Street. Translation: fair to make money in a ho-hum building sort of like the others, with less-looking effort, right across the street from fair organizers' galleries. The line-up is certainly not one to complain about though. Shout out goes to under-appreciated Bureau and Broadway 1602!
Tech-Gear-Must: Roomba. There isn’t always a clear-cut demarcation as to where one space ends and another begins, and art may be informally scattered about, sort of like a hipster’s perfectly controlled mussed-up greasy hair. A sentry Roomba can go ahead of you, carefully itemizing what not to walk into, and in the event that it breaks something… well, nobody has to know it’s yours. Blame it on Ryan Trecartin.
Want to know Trong's tips for PooL, ADAA, Korean Art Show, Spring/Break, Theorize Art Fair, Scope, Fountain, and the Moving Image Fair? Click here.
See you in New York!
-–Trong Gia Nguyen & the ArtSlant Team
FAIR WATCH - Interview with Theaster Gates
by Abraham Ritchie
Theaster Gates. "To Speculate Darkly" (procession), 2010; Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta Gallery, Berlin | Chicago.
Chicago-based artist and urban planner Theaster Gates is the 2012 commissioned artist for the Armory Show. Read more about his work in Abraham Ritchie's interview with Theaster Gates.
...AR: How do you feel about spectacle? How do you use it as a productive element?
TE: Well I don’t think at all about making spectacle. What I do think about is having a sincere moment...
TALK OF THE WEEK - Green Collars, Scholars & Dollars
by Charlie Schultz
Theaster Gates, House of Shine, 2010, Illuminated LED sign, stell and aluminum, 20"x14"x8". Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta Gallery, Berlin | Chicago
Can an art fair be a site not only for commerce but also critical engagement? Can it include some of today’s most relevant, interesting, and ambitious artists and thinkers? Dr. Horowitz thinks so, and he’s made it his mission as the Armory Show’s newly hired Managing Director to prove it’s not just possible; it’s doable. As a patron of scores of art fairs who has never had the purchasing power to do more than look, I am hopeful.
In his book, “The Art of the Deal,” Dr. Horowitz describes art fairs as “near perfect embodiments of the experience economy’s penetration into the cultural sector.” This is a radically different perspective than that held by the founding fathers of the contemporary art fair—they called it a Kunstmarkt—who were looking for a way to energize sales. What Dr. Horowitz is selling, according to the late twentieth-century theory of Experience Economy, is not artwork per se but a memorable event. When we buy our tickets, what we’re paying for is a memory—one we’ll cherish, blog about, describe at the next party, and potentially renew in twelve months. It's an experience carousel that goes round and round. And if such is the case, and it certainly seems to be as most of us are not part of the 1% buying art, then what, other than the allure of ultra-consumption, lies at the core of this experience?
It’s highly likely that, among the images we’ll store in our memory banks, one or two will be the work of this year’s commissioned artist, Theaster Gates, who was unanimously chosen to shape the fair’s visual identity. Like Dr. Horowitz, Gates is a man with a highly distinguished educational background that informs much of his current practice. He’s also slightly controversial in that he never really emerged; rather, in about 4 years he rose from the lowly rank of art-world nobody to become one of the most highly sought after contemporary artists in the world. Dizzying and rubric-defying.
Ascent aside, the question is what kind of experience Gates’s art provides? Steeped in civil rights era politics and public engagement, you might say it’s about social responsibility, the sort of work that makes you feel wholesome, like the “farm-to-table” fare catered this year by Great Performances. Whether Gates can successfully graft his image of commercial strength and social consciousness onto the body of an art fair stands to be seen. But let’s be honest, we’re not going to critically engage with a Gates image on an advertisement; that won’t move us, even if we know the coil of hose in the picture references a scene in history that probably would raise some hackles. No, our chance to engage Gates will be far less superficial. I understand he’s planning on commandeering one of the cafes to stage a performative, participation-based intervention. As Gates is a powerful performer, this has the potential to be an experience worth recounting, perhaps even worth the cost of entry...(more)