Okay, so, this week is New York City’s art fair week. This may sound like a carnival replete with Ferris wheels, clowns and cotton candy, but it’s not, at least in the literal sense. An art fair is like a carnival in that there’s a lot of excess noise, visual information and people yelling over each other. But an art fair is actually a clearinghouse for art works, a pow-wow of dealers, galleries, curators and collectors that’s part tribe meeting and part shopping mall. n the US, the major players are basically Art Basel Miami Beach, a sister fair of Art Basel founded in 2002 occurring annually every December, and New York City’s Armory Show, founded in 1994 and taking place in March.
While the visual associations with Jacob Riis’s famous series How the Other Half Lives are inevitable, artist Robyn Hasty ambitious new photo essay using the wet-plate collodion process is very very different. Titled “Homeland,” Hasty’s current project aims to document grassroots efforts to rebuild and re-envision life after the collapse of the American economy a few years ago.
Don’t expect this series to be an exploration of poverty as the young artist sees great social potential in these American visionaries that live in cities, farms, and almost anywhere you can imagine.
As soon as the announcement came that Banksy’s documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop was nominated for a Best Documentary Oscar, a churning online rumor mill debated if he would accept the award in person or remain anonymous. No one had a chance to find out what Banksy would do, though, because last night the artist’s film lost to a documentary about banking and the financial crisis.
Hermann Nitsch’s performance at Mike Weiss Gallery on February 15th and 16th was a historical moment, summoning the exuberance of his context while disintegrating the mystery shrouding his practice. After stalking Nitsch’s every movement for close to fourteen hours, the legend was humanized. Yes, this is a natural occurrence, but one may expect someone who has made slaughtering animals and organizing group blood orgies a natural part of his practice to be a little … off.
… Half the night was already over and we had the daunting task of seeing the other spaces in the midst of all the buzz of Beat Nite with only a few hours left. Art hopping in Bushwick isn’t always easy. With no real density of art spots, you end up darting around the neighborhood by foot or train. Sure there are surprises along the way but all I could wonder as we wandering through seemingly abandoned blocks was “is this what Soho felt like decades ago when it was mostly abandoned buildings and industrial spaces?” On a map Bushwick always looks more compact than it feels like on the ground.
In LA, the Watts Towers are a homemade monument by Simon Rodia, pointed cylinders of steel decorated with found objects that stretch over 99 feet tall. In Madrid, Benedictine monk Justo Martinez has constructed his own cathedral of a scale and complexity to rival Baroque architecture. Built over the past five years and rising over 131 feet, the cathedral is an enormous monument to perseverance.
Things are looking up for artists of the radical Russian art collective Voina, who had been languishing in jail for months. They were just released on bail but the duo still face a future court date & they may have inspired other inmates to pursue a life in art.
Even though we all think we know what Shakespeare looks like from our middle school Hamlet textbooks, only one portrait was (probably) painted in the writer’s lifetime. In this singular work now on view at New York City’s Morgan Library, Shakespeare is a total 17th century hottie with glowing skin, a stylish goatee and overwhelmingly large collar. Sexy. Unveiled in 2009, the quality and age of the portrait means it is now believed to be the original in a long line of Shakespeare portraits, the ancestors of our textbook copies.
Sometime around February 14, an internet phenomenon erupted as Charles Hoey and Pete Smith announced they had found a lost game cartridge for the original Nintendo video game system (NES). This cartridge was an unlabeled video game version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famed novel The Great Gatsby. Depicted in chunky 8-bit pixels, a boomerang-hatted Nick Carraway dashes through a game world of flappers, bellhops and gangsters. It even came with a vintage advertisement and a game manual that looked straight out of the 80s. The trick? This game wasn’t found; it was made in 2010. Thus we are rushed into an era of digital nostalgia.
While most people’s Beat Nite started last Friday night, mine began the night before at Norte Maar, where artist Austin Thomas had bitch slapped surprised me with the bombshell that she took the liberty of designing the Hippie Potluck tshirts without me (“I understand, Austin, really, let me just find that voodoo doll I made of you…”) and Norte Maar and Storefront co-founder Jason Andrew decided that he wanted to try and drink me under the table. Thankfully for me, the second helped blunt the pain of the first. Needless to say, things ended up blurry that night. Ok, I think I blacked out, but those are details.
On February 17, a new move was made to keep Philadelphia’s Barnes Foundation in its original home. Based on accusations of political misconduct uncovered through documentary footage, lawyers for the Friends of the Barnes Foundation are asking a judge to reopen the case that ruled in favor of the Barnes moving to a new location in center city.
Website I Heart NY Museums by programmer Dan Nguyen is a super useful online mash-up of New York City museum data that shows you when each museum has admission-free hours. With this schedule, it’s easy to plan an exhibition itinerary that won’t leave you blowing $20 at MoMA.