Frieze Week descended upon New York City last week and left thousands of shiny, colorful bits of confetti in its wake. My overall impression: The art was so bright, I had to wear shades. Below are some highlights…
Frieze, Randall’s Island NY
As one would hope and expect, Frieze excelled as an artfair in hyperbolic form. Whether one approached Randall’s Island via ferry or car, it was hard to miss the massive 80 ft tall red Balloon Dog by Paul McCarthy that towered over whipped peaks of the white tent like a circus watch dog. Inside, the tent served as an amphitheater for a range of dazzling large scale works. Sprouting up in the center of Lehmann Maupin‘s booth was a giant gauzy greenhouse by Do Ho Suh. The sculptural installation pays homage to the artist’s memory, as he recreated an apartment where he once stayed during a residency in Berlin.
Passing by the Sean Kelly booth, I felt a flash of Times Square and a dash of Hollywood as my eyes slid over Peter Liversidge’s Before/After sign. Installed right next to the work was the framed artist proposal which appeared to be typed from… a typewriter! (I want to know where Mr. Liversidge found one of those dinosaurs!) The intention of the sign employs ideas of change and perception, but I much prefer the words in which the artist wrote to describe his work: “I propose to install a bulb sign within the Sean Kelly Gallery stand at Frieze New York. The sign in question will be controlled by a random timer, so that at any given time one of its two parts may be illuminated: BEFORE /or/ AFTER. Before in its dictionary definition is described as: before:/-conj. earlier than //: -prep. in front of, ahead of; in presence of; previously. After in its dictionary definition is described as: after: /-prep. following in time; later than, subsequent to and in consequence of. The sign should be installed at head height.”
Installed against a center wall at the Harris Lieberman booth was Julia Dault’s stunning reflective installation (consisting of formica, plexiglass and string). This yielding sculpture presented like a Tim Burtoneque confection made of licorice blacks, glazed whites and slick silvers. The date and time stamp are incorporated into the title to indicate how long it took the artist to construct the work. In my opinion, Dault’s three hour and fifteen-minute creation of stiff ribbon loops successfully distorts reality by activating the negative space in which I stood. A welcome, unconventional twist on minimalism!
Fergus McCaffrey‘s booth playfully recalled a Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon-meets-Yoko Ono aesthetic. The installation, Jack Early’s Ear Candy presented a diverse pairing of media: a black light, a prismatic stripe of paint and a glossy white phonograph blasting original tracks. I found the piece to be humorous, playful and nostalgic. Furthermore, it was a dreamy alcove in which to take pause from the fair and contemplate musical memories.
NADA, Pier 36, Lower East Side
Who would have thought Basketball City on Pier 36 would ever be a repository for art? Upon entering the fair, I was greeted with silver clad performers that were most definitely not part of a local hoops team. These futuristic statues slithered gracefully throughout the booths at the fair, sparking the inner paparazzi in anyone they encountered.
David Shaw’s rainbow hued installation (courtesy of Feature Inc.) sat like a cosmic jungle gym in the center of the fair. Anchoring the piece was a large wooden ball that resembled an abstract Saint Sebastian pleading mercy through its snare in front of a lopsided crucifix. I found this work to be deceptively potent, therefore it was hard not to feel some sort of buzz as I weaved in and out of its framework.
I had a very satisfying chat with my former classmate from Christie’s Education and co-owner of Invisible Exports, Risa Needleman in her booth. She had some incredible works on display, such as pieces by esteemed artist Ann Doran who maps her life via media image saturation pre-internet; polaroids by Genesis P-Orridge who explores concepts of pandrogeny (note: the artist will be having a solo exhibition at the Warhol Museum beginning June 15th); and curious sculptures by Lisa Kirk that playfully explore the scientific phenomenon known as The Bliss Point.
The best surprise of the day was an impromptu concert at the Piano Bar in Roberto Paradise‘s booth, played by my dear friend Sugar Vendil founder and artistic director of The Nouveau Classical Project!
Collective.1, Pier 57, West Chelsea
It’s hard to miss a sign like this. Designer and artist Sebastian Errazuriz’s installation (courtesy of Cristina Grajales Gallery) made the work in response to the unfair expectation artists have of simply wowing potential buyers. If not the message alone, the piece itself will literally blow the viewer away with its velocity! Yet, I was rather amused to see how many people found the work entertaining and even endearing. One woman stood in front of the work for several minutes and performed a series of jumps with her hands in the air, as her boyfriend eagerly snapped shots of her…
Every time I visit Grey Area its like going to a really cool party. Tastemaker, co-founder and creative director Kyle de Woody installed a pingpong table designed by Brooklyn-based practice Snarkitecture right next to her booth, referee and all! It was undoubtedly fun to watch a game of “group pong” where at least 10 or more players would successively hit the ball once over the net, rotate, and continue until someone misfired. Within the Grey Area booth were two beautiful displays of immersive environments by Peter Dayton and and Scott Campbell.
Collective.1 was filled with many visually stunning pieces such as the Frisson Table which is filled with magnets that the viewer can drag with a steel ball that rests on its surface at the 21st21st booth:
and gorgeous, teardrop light fixtures that are enhanced with lattice details.
Pulse, The Metropolitan Pavilion, Chelsea
Pulse was divided into two sets of exhibitors: established artists on the ground floor and emerging artists on the second level of the pavilion, which the fair dubbed “Impulse”. I have to confess that I was a bit turned off by this deliberate segregation of artists, especially considering I found many works on the main floor could have easily been relocated upstairs, and vice versa. Bitterness aside, I enjoyed a visit with an old friend of mine Danielle Nelson Mourning, whose elegant photographs were the star of a solo show at her gallery booth at Taylor de Cordoba. Mourning, who works heavily with self portraits, informs her art with questions of the self, memory and various female figures from her past. She also wields light and uses reflection to flesh out various story lines.
In Adah Rose‘s booth I came across wonderfully tactile and textural works by Jessica Drenk. Her sculptures highlight the chaos and beauty that can be found in simple materials. Drenk’s work is also influenced by systems of information and the impulse to develop an encyclopedic understanding of the world. In its totality, Bibliophylum presents like a fabulous ovular dreamcatcher, but as you approach the work, greyscale tones crystallize into words and feathers harden into variegated tongue depressors. Implement 3 also employs the curious push-pull of hard and soft textures, conjuring simultaneous visions of organic driftwood and supple honeycombs.
As a final note, I’d like to point out a rather cool detail regarding entropic works. Drenk’s Implement 3 and Dana Melamed‘s piece, Engine 3.4 (courtesy of Von Lintel‘s booth) comprised of transparency film, cinefoil, paper, acrylic charcoal and wire on aluminum mesh, each illustrate a fantastic outward sprawl. Conversely, Kris Martin‘s Lost Wax II (courtesy of White Cube booth at Frieze) tidily suctions the chaos into a hollow void. I think this theme poses a poetic question to ponder regarding the art fairs–did they take over the city or did they pull us in? Or both?