March 9, 2009 · 7 Comments
First is not necessarily best. We went to the Armory and slogged around and saw some great stuff but mostly we were struck by the low energy of the displays and the conservatism of what was on view. It’s the economy stupid — a lot of small scale stuff, serious stuff (no humor) and a fair deal of secondary market work even in the contemporary zone. (Armory was divided into “contemporary” and “modern” piers, the “modern” specifically to deal with secondary market….but we saw secondary market everywhere. We missed much of the modern section so these comments are directed to what we saw in the contemporary.
Our vote for best of show at the Armory is…Martha Colburn at Diana Stigter. A piece about war and hunting where nobody wins in the end–not the ducks, not soldiers, not the hunters….Part of the magic in the stop-action animation was getting to see the scrolls and paper collages from which she made the work.
It’s hard to believe that something so lively as this animation can come from these beautiful collages. Also, we’d never seen floating jigsaw puzzle pieces in an animation before–they were great!
Painting didn’t make up a huge percentage of the works we saw but we liked a lot of what was there. The artists weren’t necessarily new to us but the most exciting paintings we saw were by Baker Overstreet, Mickalene Thomas and Raqib Shaw. We want to say we like the competition between Mickalene and Raqib on the glitz factor–more sequins!! more glitter! bring it on!
New to us, Charlie Roberts‘ grids of cartoonish little guys in vintage Americana (hats, cowboy and indians dress, etc) looked great and were selling.
Gordon Cheung‘s dripping slimy “Living Machine” personified the melting economy perfectly. This and many other works in all the shows reflected the current financial malaise. Anxiety R us these days.
Hey, facebook addicts, and you know who you are, Mahomi Kunikata‘s art wants to be your friend and tell you all about her breakup. “I wish we had never met” sounds like it could be a new facebook “relationship status” check off.
We loved Mikhael Subotzky’s photo series at Goodman Gallery from Johannesburg. Unlike Pieter Hugo‘s romaniticized portraits of tribal shamans with hyenas at Yossi Milo (cultural tourism for us white folks) Subotzky’s group photos immerse you in the world of convicts and hard lives–no pretty ribbons, monumentality or posturing in evidence.
Also at Goodman, a hot-off-the-press, whiz-bang book and animation from it by William Kentridge (it was almost like a flip book) that the gallery had published. It was to die for (sorry no picture). We are remembering when Kentridge spoke at the Philadelphia Museum of Art last year that he said he collects used books and draws on them…this must be a project from one of those books.
Familiar names, Tara Donovan, Nick Cave, Cornelia Parker looked good.
And newcomer (for us) Mounir Fatmi made the best reuse of old technology in the fair…recyling VHS tapes into a claustrophobic torture chamber with what looked like an electric chair. It saluted to Andy Warhol and Yayoi Kusama, but this was actually a powerful indictment of surveillance and torture.
Vincent Desiderio (PAFA grad and instructor) fired the opening volley of the fair. As you walked in to the modern section, his monumental flying butts stopped you dead in your tracks, Sumo-style.
And Larry Mangel of Cerealart had a great Fruit Loop moment with Hank Willis Thomas and Ryan Alexiev’s portrait of President Obama a la breakfast cereal. Are we the only ones who got the humor in Cerealart producing this cereal portrait? We read a complaint about this piece but we kind of like it and the Times featured a picture of it in their Armory article. No way these artists are saying Obama is a fruit loop. He’s a hero here.
More on Volta, Fountain and Pulse coming up.
Tags: armory show, baker overstreet, charlie roberts, gordon cheung, hank willis thomas, mahomi kunikata, martha colburn, mickalene thomas, mikhael subotzky, mounir fatmi, nick cave, raqib shaw, ryan alexiev, vincent desiderio