The Satellite Art Show — which labels itself as an antidote to the “salable” and “market tested” approach of mainstream art fairs — is growing on the art world’s radar. Last December, it occupied a 33,000-square-foot lot at Art Basel Miami (using the hashtag #notbasel), and in March it exhibited for the first time at Austin’s South by Southwest. Satellite has arrived in Brooklyn this weekend — from October 3 to 6, in the now defunct Pfizer building — with 30-plus exhibitors and a strong lineup of performance programming, panel discussions, and screenings.
While many art shows and organizations throw around words like “alternative” or “anti-establishment,” from the outset Satellite establishes a vibe that’s more like an immersive bazaar, with late-night hours, after parties, and the kind of creative energy we don’t often associate with art fairs. “The ethos is to present curated and concept-based installations all within an inclusive and non-pretentious environment,” Creative Director and Curator Brian Whiteley told Hyperallergic. Arriving as many of the exhibitors were putting the final touches on their installations, I could tell I was in for a different kind of art experience.
While some of the work felt a little too “Made For Insta” — looking more impressive through my phone than it did in person — there are enough standout booths to visit. Despite being relatively small and tightly curated, as far as art fairs go, it’s easy to spend several hours exploring the space. Everyone was eager to chat about art, passion projects, alternative concept spaces, politics, art school, and tech’s influence on art.
Satellite, which operates on an open call application process, features artist collectives, alternative galleries, and individual artists. Whiteley said that each approved exhibitor was required to create an “environment” rather than simply a booth selling art. With a low-cost structure for the participants ($500 per space) and a “no commission” policy, exhibitors were free to play with how they format the space, from Treat Gallery donating a third of all proceeds to Human Rights Campaign to a virtual reality experience by Flatsitter and David Mitchell that includes a “menu” of five VR pieces by various artists to choose from. In keeping with the experimental, tech-centric nature of the show, “Dream Logic” by Lauren Carly Shaw has combined a geometric, modernist installation with an AR video performance.
Other installations lean toward the political, including the climate-related piece by Carla Maldonado that focuses on a post-Bolsonaro Brazil and a post-Trump America, or the haunting portraits dealing with race and identity by German photographer Eva Mueller. Evoking both the precious and the irreverent, the bizarre collaged worlds created by Shiri Mordechay are some of the standout works on paper. Surrealist, sci-fi fantasy is a reoccurring theme throughout, represented best by the lush biophilic paintings of Anthony Padilla, and the slightly sexual, slightly escapist sculptures of Arpi Adamyan.
Described as a “family of creators who all want to see the boundaries of art being pushed,” there is much to be gleaned from the mindset shaping the work seen at Satellite. As the show looks to grow and evolve, I’m interested to see how it sets about enhancing the quality of artwork while stating true to its mission of showcasing the emerging and the experimental.
The Satellite Art Show continues at the Pfizer Building (630 Flushing Avenue, South Williamsburg, Brooklyn) through October 6.