The Paris-based Cutlog art fair has returned to the Lower East Side for another year, with 50 galleries setting up inside the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center. Opened on Wednesday, the internationally focused art offerings sprawl through two floors of the old schoolhouse, weaving in classrooms and hallways.
Everything looks different from the water — even an art fair. Sitting in Marie Lorenz’s rowboat yesterday evening, gliding along the edge of Randall’s Island, the curving white tent that houses Frieze New York seemed distant and innocuous.
The first thing you see when you enter Collective design fair at the Moynihan Station Skylight space is a mini-exhibition of work by Hella Jongerius, organized by Murray Moss and Franklin Getchell of design think tank Moss Bureau. The presentation includes a group of stuffed “Quilted Vases” (2006) by the Berlin-based Dutch designer.
With the permanent invasion of art fairs into the art world economy like a plague, most galleries, no matter how cutting-edge or avant-garde, seem to believe (whether from actual or perceived necessity) that they must participate in all of the increasingly frequent art fair seasons. This endless stream of fairs forces smaller galleries that show conceptual, abstract, or experimental work into a setting devoid of context, stripping the art of its desired impact or importance. While I’m certainly not the first to point this out, nowhere was it more noticeable recently than at NADA New York.
Frieze New York is an undeniably nice fair. Even if you generally hate art fairs, or sympathize with the union workers, or a devotee of the Armory Show, you have to admit that Frieze does it right: the spacious, light-filled tent, the excellent food options, the weekend-getaway feel as you board the ferry to Randall’s Island.
The labor headache continued apace on Randall’s Island this morning, as Susanne Vielmetter arrived at her eponymous gallery to find Andrea Bowers’s much-discussed protest letters taken down and the entrance of her cube cordoned off by a white string. “I’m shocked,” she told Hyperallergic, “I never expected this would happen.” Though she says it isn’t clear who is responsible for this action, Vielmetter was particularly dismayed as she had spoken with Frieze co-head Matthew Slotover in the run up to the fair, and he had subsequently engaged both her and Andrea Bowers in a “long conversation” assuring her of the right to display the letters and clarifying the Frieze position that they are not in a labor dispute of any kind.
Visiting Frieze New York on Randall’s Island is like being sucked into a black hole. You get on a ferry (or a bus, or a bike), enter a giant, spacious tent, and then time stops. Or it disappears. Or it slips away. Next thing you know, you stumble out dehydrated and drunk off your speakeasy cocktail and notice the sun starting to sink in the sky.
Two words, darlings: art fairs! Frieze New York has spawned a bona fide fair week. But if you suffer from fair fatigue, don’t worry: the doctor’s got plenty of other recommendations.
New York City councilmembers and labor leaders, united under the auspices of Teamsters Joint Council 16, gave a press conference on the steps of City Hall yesterday, again blasting the use of non-union labor for Frieze Art Fair on Randall’s Island.
I had heard that Frieze New York was huge, but I have been to Armory and Basel Miami, so I assumed that it was just another art fair, sure there would be a lot of stuff to look at, but nothing this hardened New Yorker couldn’t handle.
This week, the brand new New York art fair weekend has finally arrived and your doctor is worried.