While color often seemed to be a stand-in for content at this year’s NADA NY, a few galleries brought interesting and challenging work to the table. Although bright, New York’s fair was not quite as glitzy and sleek as its Miami counterpart in December, with only a few splashes of resin and glitter. As usual, attending the fair consisted mostly of milling between scratchy “outsider art” and stock abstractions, all made by similarly highly trained and skilled painters. While some paintings charmed me, none made it to my greatest hits list. Instead, I was enraptured by some of the more non-traditional media.
Galería Agustina Ferreyra (San Juan)
Winner of the first NADA x Exhibitionary International Gallery Prize, Galería Agustina Ferreyra did not disappoint. Cristina Tufiño’s ceramic sculptures of pieces of bodies are both melancholic due to their lonely detachment and playful because of their softened shapes and pastel tones. They are simultaneously eerie and comforting. Tufiño says, “My goal in my ceramic sculpture is to call upon a past experience or emotion.”
Her work evokes fragmented memories of embodiment, slightly illegible though recognizable. Her matte glazes suck up light, drawing the eye to linger on each surface. https://www.agustinaferreyra.com/
Five Car Garage (Los Angeles)
Megan May Daalder
One of the most memorable piece of the fair, Mirror Box by Megan May Daalder is an interactive helmet contraption that uses two-way mirrors and lighting to create a three-minute experience for two people. Inserting one’s head into one side of the piece places the viewer face to face with his/her partner. As the lights circle and change sides, both reflections blend together making it difficult to distinguish one’s features from the other’s. The first transition is shocking. I was overwhelmed and disturbed by the intimacy with a stranger and the fixed time-limit on the experience, especially being in the middle of a busy fair. Confronting one’s own reflection in such a tight space would be a visceral experience but simultaneously staring into the eyes of a stranger is intense. Daalder describes her piece as an “empathy machine.” The project has become the research subject for neuroscientists and psychologists studying the self. Daalder is interested in looking at ways people break down boundaries of self, using the Mirror Box as a tool to rewire the way our brains relate to each other. http://emmagrayhq.com/
Jonathan Hopson Gallery (Houston)
Annabelle Arlie’s installation at the Jonathan Hopson Gallery booth was bright, striking and conceptually stimulating. Her work, mostly fabric printed with stock photography of parrots stretched onto embroidery hoops deals with depictions of nature in an image saturated world, as well as the history of images and image making. These pictures continue to circulate and propagate while the creatures themselves lose their environment and the environment loses its creatures. Arlie poignantly asks us what a post-nature world might look like. http://jonathanhopsongallery.com/
ltd Los Angeles (Los Angeles)
With one very impressive booth, ltd Los Angeles featured the work of Erik Clark, John Edmonds, Chanel Von Habsburg Lothringen, and Mariah Garnett. John Edmonds’ three photographs printed on Japanese silk hang stunningly on one wall. Edmonds’ work challenges stereotypes of black masculinity with sublime simplicity. Portraits of the back of a man’s head wearing a du-rag, they are gentle, powerful and poetic. It is no surprise that he is exploding onto the scene as a young artist to watch.
Chanel Von Habsburg Lothringen’s huge vinyl banners and smaller prints were striking in a very different way. These collage-like compositions are rich and saturated, depicting faceless and semi-nude female bodies against suburban foliage or a city skyline. Reminiscent of advertising, these works are both inviting and aggressive and impossible to ignore. http://ltdlosangeles.com/
Mobius (Bucharest) & TRANSFER (Brooklyn)
By far the most popular booth at the fair, Mobius and TRANSFER’s joint presentation of AES-F’s multichannel video installation drew delighted crowds. AES-F is an art collective of four, working in photography, video, and animation as well as traditional media for nearly thirty years. Inverso Mundus is an absurdist series of hyperreal tableaus in which the “world is inverted.” It was humorous and political with delicious extremely high definition visuals and stunning almost cinematography. AES-F’s title refers to sixteenth century engravings of role reversals. They write,
Inverso Mundus is a world where chimeras are pets and the Apocalypse is entertainment.
The monumental scenes included a seemingly endless boardroom-like desk full of people, each replaced by a low-class double of themselves and a pig butchering a man. Epic and uncanny, the booth was quite a hit.
Ivan Bašić’s work is also composed of body fragments, though her sculptures lean further towards the psychological and grotesque than the whimsical.
These segmented bodies are made the more alien by their incompleteness – legs without feet, arms without hands. Bašić’s figures appear to be acted upon by forces of enormous violence, and seem to visualize the fragility of the body as an organic carrier for something else.
Bašić’s largest work in the Signal booth, Stay inside or perish is exquisitely constructed, hanging hauntingly from the ceiling. The figure’s intricate musculature and lifeless gesture leave the viewer almost as uneasy as the sculpture looks to be itself, resting on blown glass tubes and slim steel rods. The work hangs suspended, still, as if she has captured a writhing nightmare or a dark piece of the self momentarily in material. http://ssiiggnnaall.com/