Leftovers for Christmas
Post #1635 • December 25, 2013, 4:39 PM
Untitled has the benefit of buzz this year. This is the Miami Beach fair that's erected on the actual beach, in a tent designed by the architecture firm K/R, pitched (if you can call setting up a warehouse-sized text “pitching”) at 12th Street. Light permeates the fabric that serves as a roof and floods the generous apportions of space given over to the exhibitors. If you're feeling claustrophobic after squeezing your way through the other fairs, this is the place to go for relief.
This is the second iteration of the fair and the consensus is that it has improved markedly. Of note is the inclusion of past exhibitors at the Pulse Art Fair who have decamped from Wynwood's Ice Palace for the luminous tent on the sand, including Bitforms (NYC), Winkleman Gallery (NYC), and Emerson Dorsch (Miami). As one dealer explained to me, you doesn't want to appear to depend on the same fair year after year, particularly if you're angling for inclusion someday in the “main fair” - Art Basel Miami Beach, of course – and things seem to be going stale at your present venue.
I concur with that consensus opinion of improvement. There was a bit less self-conscious edginess and more objects to look at. I was drawn to the sculptures at Marc Strauss (NYC) of Entang Wiharso, an Indonesian artist who is combining native traditions of relief carving with comics and lowbrow to express surrealist autobiographical narratives, rendered in metal except for the creepy inlaid eyes. LOYAL (Malmö, Sweden) is showing work by Ara Peterson, an alumnus of the Forcefield art/noise collective from the heady Fort Thunder days in Providence, RI. Peterson's constructions of painted wood, designed and carved with digital assistance, hung on the wall with great presence and rich modulations of color. Similar investments in labor, with productive returns, for the sake of color and surface appear in the drawings of Dennis Koch at Marine Contemporary (Venice, CA), which are executed in colored pencils employed somehow with a drill. Small, thoughtfully worked abstractions by Hanneline Røgeberg at Blackston (NYC) are both inviting and austere.
Fans of video and digital art may want to stay away until the evening – as good as everything else looks in the filtered sunshine of the tent roof, anything displaying on a screen is getting wiped out. Until then, though, one can spy the shadow of a seagull crossing overhead, an elegant animated projection in itself.
The NADA Fair has the smell of death on it, and I'm not referring to the noticeable locker room odor permeating the lobby of the “historic” Deauville Beach Resort on Collins Avenue at 67th Street. Split by necessity into three separate meeting rooms, one more drab and dated than the next, it was full of work that threatens to start looking equally tired in short order. The program to run a cheaper fair forthe benefit of younger dealers is laudable, but the benefit will be lost on them if they maintain the sort of too-good-to-speak-with-the-public attitude that one would associate with the boom years of the '90s. A waif wearing neon puffy sneakers and an oversized t-shirt – the look this year – was overheard to recount to her friend that she had just offered $3000 for a work priced at $6500. The scene was not adding up to the stuff of connoisseurship or market longevity.
There were exceptions. A gorgeous Jackie Saccocio at Eleven Rivington (NYC) made the whole trip worthwhile. (See what I had to say about her work at Artcritical here. [ed. - please link.]) A suite of handsomely abused photographic papers by Mariah Robertson at American Contemporary (NYC) had a similar sort of dynamism, and similarly employed the drip to good effect. Jessica Silverman Gallery (San Francisco) had a series of cyanotype photograms that caught my eye, and I was delighted to learn that they had been made by Barabara Kasten in the mid-1970s.
There was also an installation of constructions by Dashiell Manley at Redling Fine Art (Los Angeles). Working in a wide variety of media on boxed-up sheets of clear acrylic, Manley conceives of himself as working cinematically. Thus the installation, with each box on its own shelf, is moved or flipped as per the directions of the artist, producing a kind of slow animation. This prompted a question for the woman minding the space and executing the artist's instructions: if that's the film, are you the projector? She good-naturedly assented. She and Manley have bright futures in front of them, I think. Whether NADA does is an open question.
Department of Skills
May you have a skillful holiday season.