The Armory Show and Independent Art Fair
              Ania Szremski
              The art-fair think piece is as stale as the art fair itself. What could be said already has been, from puzzling over the mysterious machinations of the market, to annual denunciations from gallerists, and ethnographies of those who buy and those who sell. The form of writing that is truest to the form of the art fair is the nimble listicle, the best-or-worst-of reportage, the photo-heavy guided tour; the spirit of the fair is inimical to the weightier, slower-moving thousand-word reflection. Even though visiting the storied behemoth that is The Armory Show and the leaner, more winsome upstart Independent was something of an exercise in “seen one, seen them all,” I was nonetheless startled to be confronted by works that I actually liked—that offered a cool respite from the surrounding fervor of the art-mall experience, that compelled dreamier reflection. And so begins my own inevitable best-of list: at The Armory, Upfor Gallery from Portland, Oregon, showed Iranian artist Morehshin Allahyari, who commanded sustained attention with her spellbinding videos Huma (2016), Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj (2017), and Aisha Qandisha (2018), each depicting voracious Near Eastern goddesses and fever-causing spirits with glitched-out animations and oracle-like narrations. And even as Nam June Paik’s multimedia sculptural …
              The Armory Show and Independent Art Fair
              Brian Karl
              If the art auction is the ultimate hunger games of ostentatious display for your taste and bank account, the art fair is the auction’s suburban or exurban cousin: the mega shopping mall, where everything is under one roof. Whether or not you went in knowing what you wanted to get and what your individual sensibility might consist of, there is a tidal flow of people and things that overwhelms and cross-wires your brain toward shutdown. Any individual piece of art, of course, has its competitors for attention at the fair, including not only a swirling mass of people (most decked out in lively garb) but the mass of art itself, an ongoing assault not just to the eye but to the mind demanding response to an endless stream of questions, starting with “What is that?” and often ending with not only “Is it good or bad?” but “Why?” or “What is it good for?” The Armory Show, having established itself after a mere 22 years as the go-to art fair of scale in New York, is attempting this year to buck off a sense of staidness, of predictability and unmaneuverability. Filling two of the giant piers on the Hudson River (appropriately enough, …
              Armory Show and Independent
              Sam Korman
              “Who isn’t here?” I asked myself on the lead-up to the 2016 incarnations of the Armory and Independent art fairs. And I asked myself again upon leaving. A few weeks ago, I received the announcement that Laurel Gitlen Gallery closed. As an art student in Portland, Oregon, I had missed Laurel’s original project space by a year or two, but it possessed mythic status for me. After she settled in New York, her gallery lent credibility, if not a lingering inspiration, to those of us trying to organize exhibition spaces as something punk, smart, and deliberate. We followed in her footsteps—albeit in our garages—and saw that our activities could be legible in New York or Los Angeles or wherever the conversation was happening. I am not sure how many people from my Portland community would count Laurel as a direct influence, but most of my friends there have moved to New York, most still work in art or as artists, and we discussed the gallery’s closure with bummed-out, downturned glances. It’s hard not to feel indignant that the art world could suck a personal history up its ass, but an organizer can be around for one or two (or, in …
              Armory Show and Independent
              Orit Gat
              Trendspotting is a competitive sport at art fairs. Still, with every fashion, there’s always an artist who either reinvents worn forms or executes them so well it’s hard not to admire. This year, it’s the case of objects hanging from fishing lines—a frequent fair staple—and Glenn Kaino’s A Shout Within a Storm (2014) on view at Los Angeles’s Honor Fraser is the perfect example. The 149 copper-plated steel arrows, shining in the strong exhibition lighting, filled the booth, especially since Kaino’s paraffin brick wall, The Last Sight of Icarus (2014), was positioned diagonally against the back corner, pressing the space even further. They’re not site-specific, but seeing them together at a fair—where they seem monumental and ambitious in comparison to all the paintings hanging on drywall—becomes not only impressive, but also meaningful. When sameness abounds, it’s key to focus on the work that’s different. At Philipp von Rosen Galerie, Cologne, Anna K.E. showed Post-Hunger Generation (2015), comprising drawings on paper installed in a wooden structure. The architectural configuration served to frame the drawings and a small monitor, showing a man’s hands as he unwraps plastic packages and rearranges their contents (headphones, an SD card, a USB cable) on a table, to …
              Independent Projects
              Laura McLean-Ferris
              It’s hard to find much affection for art fairs. Aside from their unvarnished commercialism, they are, after all, why some gallerists never see their children/partners/ornamental budgerigars. However, Independent—a fair that has taken place in New York every March since 2010 to coincide with the Armory show—has induced warm feelings over the years, rising through the old sun-lit Dia building in Chelsea. At a time when galleries, collectors, and critics alike were losing faith in the Armory’s bald, depressing, trade-fair approach, Independent stepped in with proof of life and experimentation in the fair game: freeform design, heavy European participation, and not-for-profit collaboration brought playful experimentation at a moment when things were feeling scarily dead on the piers. Capitalizing on these successes, this year Independent attempted to switch it up once more, adding an autumn show with Independent Projects, which not only went it alone without a mega fair in town to support it (though New York’s Contemporary and Modern auctions do take place within its run), but also proposed that the fair be devoted only to artists’ solo projects, and that it should transform into an “exhibition” after an initial “fair weekend.” Gallerists, desks, and iPads would disappear and be replaced by …
              Ginny Kollak
              In the weeks leading up to this year’s Independent art fair, the self-styled “temporary exhibition forum” that has taken up residence in the former Dia Art Foundation building during each Armory week since 2010, I felt a creeping, empathetic anxiety. How would exhibitors respond to the increasingly crowded field of art fairs with similar indie credentials? Would there be evidence of growing pains, or worse yet, an awkward adolescent phase? As it turns out, I needn’t have worried. While the funhouse vibe of years past may have subsided (there are no oversized inflatable rats, for example, like the one by the Bruce High Quality Foundation that greeted visitors to Independent’s first iteration), what remains is a casually self-assured, even subdued presentation of works by artists from both within and beyond the mainstream. There’s not much by way of shock value or even spectacle here, though I doubt most visitors will miss the glittery multiples and clever slogans that populate other fairs. Still, with more than 40 galleries and several non-profits and publications spread comfortably among three floors, there is plenty to see and appreciate. New this year is the Privatus Prize, a 10,000 USD award juried by independent curator Clarissa Dalrymple and …
              The Armory, ADAA The Art Show, and Independent
              Karen Archey
              Armory Arts Week 2011 may be remembered as the year of art fairs that failed to defy our expectations. Unlike 2010, which saw the debut of Independent, or 2009, in which the glimmerings of a healthy art market emerged after the major 2008 recession, despite some shifts in gallery loyalty, the 2011 Armory Arts Week remains more or less the same. Swiping many blue-chip galleries from the Armory, the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA), The Art Show launched on Park Avenue to reveal mostly stuffy secondary market offerings. The Armory International, though it experienced a slight slippage in taste this year, continued to dominate as the most massive and greatest accumulation of all influential galleries amidst the art fairs in New York. Independent, in its sophomore year at the “old Dia building” on 22nd street in Chelsea, continues to act as the vanguard of the fairs, attempting to re-work the art fair model physically and intellectually. It’s the paintings of Alice Neel that greet the viewer arriving at the ADAA Art Show in David Zwirner’s booth—perhaps diminutive in size compared to those at the International. Zwirner is one of the most blue of blue-chip dissenters of the Armory, including Friedrich …

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