Fanzine Does New York Art Week 2011 (1)

Bradford Nordeen


Over the next four days, I’ll be paying a visit to many of the art fairs that orbit the Armory Show, a yearly offing that has led some folks to brand this New York Art Week. I’ll be reporting back with trends and picks from this epic convention of artists, gallerinas and buyers. From the floors of the Armory to Volta, the Armory’s kid sister; from the video art new-comer Moving Image Fair, to last year’s newbie, The Independent; out of mainstays Pulse and Scope; into Brooklyn for Verge and onto a boat (!) for Fountain fair, count on me for some harsh criticism, choice praise and all the gossip I can muster.

The week commenced quietly with a “mini art fair” that showcases the “accessible & impressive.” Opening two days before the Armory, the small and dependable Bowery-based Zürcher Studio, collaborated with six other galleries (Audio Visual Arts, Feature Inc., The Journal Gallery, The Proposition, Parker’s Box, and Stephan Stoyanov Gallery) to compose Salon Zürcher, “for those who feel they are missing out on visiting the individual gallery amongst the whirlwind…of the Armory Show.” The bi-national Zürcher Studio has always struck me as defiantly European, a breath of fresh (Parisian) air when confronted with New York’s propensity for white cube galleries – from Zürcher’s use of their exposed wood flooring to the open-door office space – out of which amiable co-founder Gwenolee Zürcher typically pours. So it is sad that Salon Zürcher doesn’t follow these leanings. Instead, they build the same old art fair cubicles to sort out their guests. Zürcher’s fascinating roster gets caught in the clutter of their cramped install.  Brian Belott’s vibrant works come off one-note when confronted with John Hodany’s not-similar-enough large figurative seal painting “Venus in Antarctica, 2010.”  A wall of David Lefebvre’s concise and gloppy oil paintings lurk beneath a dissonant work by Esther Tielemans. I know, I know… it’s a salon, but really.

Elsewhere, the art is a mixed bag. Stephan Stoyanov Gallery presents Jeff Gibson’s Asylum, 2010, typographic works on paper, definitions that get the viewer in the mood for the week to come.  “Stainless Zeal” reads one, “an insincere enthusiasm leaving no impression.” Black and red text, white paper on white frames, the install makes a striking visual statement – but it turns out it’s the statements that are the problem. The more time I gave Asylum, the more these pieces digressed into mere puns. A confusing installation at Parker’s Box pits two small projections against one another, two non-related video works are trained in such close proximity that I mistook it for a 2-channel. Audio Visual Arts (AVA) easily steals the show with their sound-heavy installation. A marbleized Seth Price record, Honesty, spins on a Vestax turntable and, on an opposite wall, a metal device offers an array of sound compositions – Marina Rosenfeld’s I Love You Man, 2009 alongside Delia Derbyshire’s gorgeous Dreams / Colour, 1964. The channels of the small metal box, which reminds of a front door intercom, are open ports for the singular headphones set. Pull out from one drone work and plug into Kathy Acker’s 1980 reading of I Was Walking Down The Street. Swap that out for Judy Dunaway’s For A Chorus of Balloons, 2000, which, yes, is exactly what it sounds like, and you’ve really got yourself some real dissonance!

Stay tuned tomorrow for The Armory and Volta!