The jukebox is quiet and there’s prosecco flowing, but anachronisms aside, Macon Reed’s “Eulogy for the Dyke Bar” installation is a vibrant tribute to the disappearing lesbian bar. According to Brooklyn Based, only four remained in New York City as of 2015. Now another one has been temporarily added to the roster, as Reed’s bar, with its painted bottles and wood-paneled walls, pops up in the Metropolitan Pavilion for the 2016 edition of Pulse New York.
The bar was previously installed at Brooklyn Wayfarers (alas, no touching the temptingly tactile pool table at this iteration) and is presented here by Mackin Projects, with events featuring queer and transgender artists programmed throughout the weekend thanks to Pulse’s Perspectives program. Perspectives is also offering a host of other discussions amid the gallery displays, including a Sunday panel on “Art and Revolution” moderated by Hyperallergic’s editor-in-chief, Hrag Vartanian.
“Eulogy for the Dyke Bar” joins other large-scale works in Pulse’s Projects initiative. These are definitely the highlight of the fair (which opens today), offering plenty of colorful and playful moments of mixed media. A tower of used shipping pallets inlaid with a delicate mother-of pearl-pattern balances on a truck bed in Yumi Janairo Roth’s “Stacked Datsun” (2013–14), presented by Sienna Patti. The decorative inlaying, similar to that used on furniture in the Philippines, seems to suggest a reference to international exchange. Anna Paola Protasio’s “Marking Time” (2013), on view with Nohra Haime Gallery, similarly reveals some surprising detail. The huge marble and brass sundial appears motionless, but is in fact slowly rotating, the weighted brass carving small scars into the stone. Other large pieces are more abstract, like Mia Taylor’s “⌘+⌘+⌘+⌘+” (2016), which has shiny silver balloons hovering over collaged shapes that are based on the process of zooming in on images until they break down into basic geometry.
Much of Pulse involves solo or two-person displays; programs like the Prize for individuals and Conversations for duos encourage the giving of more space to each artist than at the usual fair. The Conversations are most interesting when the artists directly interact, such as Brenna Murphy and Sabrina Ratté at Laffy Maffei Gallery, mixing video projection and prints to build a continuously morphing environment, or Renato D’Agostin’s moody monotone work surrounded by Gianluca Quaglia’s black confetti at the booth of mc2gallery. The fair is light on any sort of confrontational or political art — a little strange for an election year — and although it boasts over 40 galleries from four continents, just one comes from Africa: Christopher Moller Gallery. However, their solo artist, Tony Gum, really brings it with her self-portrait photographs, particularly those where she’s covered in glittering green paint and considering motherhood, with white paint dripping from one metallic breast or a jug of milk held aloft on her head.
Below are more photographs from some of this year’s work at Pulse:
Pulse New York 2016 continues at the Metropolitan Pavilion (125 W18th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan) through March 6.