Another Year, Another Armory Show Survival Guide

Here it comes, a marathon week, when the Armory Show and other art fair exhibitions descend upon New York City–some people love it, to others it is a professional duty and a physical endurance test, to be survived as best as possible.

As a freelancer, over the years, The Armory Show has turned into quite an event for me. The Armory Show is New York’s premier art fair (it welcomes over 65,000 visitors annually) and a definitive cultural destination for discovering and collecting the world’s most important 20th and 21st century artworks. Staged on Piers 92 & 94, the fair features presentations by leading international galleries, innovative artist commissions and dynamic public programs. This time of year, it is also freezing cold and windy on the piers; most years, I just pray for decent weather & endurance.

While attending the Armory Show is a great time, it also an event to mentally prepare yourself for. Here is my list of Armory Must Do’s – it will help you get the most out of your day of art overload.

  • Have a decent breakfast before you head out to the shows…don’t get me wrong, this is an amazing time of the year, but it’s long and you need to know it’s not the type of thing you do for an hour and then move on. Which brings me to my next rule…
  • Wear comfortable shoes. I know you see people fashionably arriving to the show and there is nothing wrong with looking good, but trust me, if their heels are over 3 inches, they are not serious. Chances are you are planning to visit other art fairs during the day – New York is an asphalt jungle and nothing will take you down faster than trying to traverse the art fairs in cute heels.
  • Know when to break for a meal; lack of food will cause you to forget just about anything, even if it is great. Personally, I keep granola bars and fresh pressed juice in my bag for quick power snacks.
  • Have patience. The crowds can be overwhelming. The Armory Show takes place across 250,000 square feet of exhibition space. Just remember that everyone wants to see everything – a near impossible feat. Friday is less crowded than Saturday; Sunday is a tossup. The contemporary side (Pier 94) is always the hot ticket, so expect some shoving and long lines for the coatroom.
  • Over the years, my appreciation for art has truly grown. You may not understand it or get what the artist is trying to convey, but you can still appreciate it, and in the end that’s all that matters, because art is not about understanding, but more of a feeling.
  • Most of all, know when to call it quits. If it all starts to blend, you have probably had enough for the day. Save some for tomorrow or even next year – shut it down – go have dinner & drinks and pat yourself you the back and call it a wrap. You survived.

Another Year, Another Armory Show Survival Guide

Location

Piers 92 & 94
711 12th Avenue, New York, 10019

Hours

Thursday, March 2: 12–8pm
Friday, March 3: 12–8pm
Saturday, March 4: 12–7pm
Sunday, March 5: 12–6pm

SPOTLIGHT: Conceptual Artist Yinka Shonibare, MBE

Yinka Shonibare, MBE — the MBE stands for Most Excellent Order of the British Empire —is a British-Nigerian artist living in London. His work explores cultural identity, colonialism and post-colonialism within the contemporary context of globalization. Shonibare, is best known for his whimsical life-sized mannequins dressed in vivid Dutch-wax (African prints and patterns) fabrics.  The costumes are usually Victorian, the Victorian era being the period of British history when Africa was colonized.  The Dutch-wax period costumes are really an Indonesian-designed fabric called, batik that has become popularly assimilated into West African culture. As his work continues to take on the authenticity of historical moments, the fabrics that were originally to be used to connote African identity, not really being originally from Africa are a constant ironic coincidence – working to his advantage as a conceptual artist.

The sculptures add a lightness to addressing weighty themes including race, enlightenment, capitalism, authenticity and least of all identity.  You’ll notice that the mannequins are headless, it’s so the figures aren’t racially identifiable. The fiberglass bodies are mixed race, “kind of coffee colored,” Mr. Shonibare said that he conceived of the headlessness as a joke related to the revenge killings of aristocrats in the French Revolution. “The idea of bringing back the guillotine was very funny to me,” he said.*

Throughout the past decade, Shonibare has shown his distinctive pieces extensively from the United States to Hong Kong, with notable exhibitions including mid-career retrospective at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art.

–>Take a look below at some of the pieces from Shonibare, MBE’s exhibitions as we offer quotes from the artist himself about his inspiration:

 

SPOTLIGHT: Conceptual Artist Yinka Shonibare, MBE Sculpture, Cakeman II

Called Cake Man (II), it features a lifesize mannequin dressed in African print, with a huge pile of cakes balanced precariously on his back. “It’s my tribute to bankers,” said Shonibare. “There’s been a lot of talk about bonuses to bankers and the top 1% literally taking all the cake. So this piece, I guess, is about greed. It has more cakes than anyone could ever eat or manage.”

 

Yinka Shonibare MBE, The Swing (After Fragonard), 2001 (Tate, London) © Yinka Shonibare. The Swing (After Fragonard) is a three-dimensional recreation of the Rococo painting after which it was titled, which itself offers testimony to the opulence and frivolity of pre-Revolutionary France. Painted in 1767, Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s The Swing depicts a coquettish young girl swinging in a lush and fertile forest and, of course, playfully kicking up her shoe. “Living in England, with my colonial relationship to this country, one cannot escape all these Victorian things, because they are everywhere: in architecture, culture, attitude…” – Yinka Shonibare

 

“Gallantry and Criminal Conversation (Parasol),” 2002 Two life-size fiberglass mannequins, two metal and wood cases, Dutch wax printed cotton, leather, wood, and steel, 64 1/5 x 44 1/10 x 75 4/5 inches Collection of Beth Rudin DeWoody, New York Photo by Werner Maschmann © Yinka Shonibare MBE

 
“Being able to indulge in your fantasies really belongs to the privileged and the wealthy. I was fascinated with the fashion that comes with that luxury and excess, and I wanted to produce a piece that would be slightly surreal and also a bit of satire as well—poking fun at the whole thing, but also loving it at the same time. It’s not sexually explicit. Really it’s about people having a sense of humor.” -Yinka Shonibare MBE

SPOTLIGHT: Conceptual Artist Yinka Shonibare, MBE

“How to Blow Up Two Heads at Once (Ladies),” a 2006 work by Yinka Shonibare with mannequins, guns, Dutch wax-printed cotton textile, shoes, boots and plinth. Credit Steve White/Museum Purchase, Wellesley College Friends of Art

SPOTLIGHT: Conceptual Artist Yinka Shonibare, MBE

SPOTLIGHT: Conceptual Artist Yinka Shonibare, MBE

“He reminds us that every action has ramifications. A girl sprouting butterfly wings, and a male figure outfitted in a spacesuit with his worldly possessions strapped to his back. They are poised for takeoff to  escape the mess we have made on Earth and begin anew elsewhere—hopefully having learned from history, so as not to repeat our mistakes.” – —Karen Kedmey via Artsy Editoral, “Yinka Shonibare’s Haunting New Sculptures and Installations Present a Link Between Climate Change and Our Dark History”

Yinka Shonibare MBE’s The Last Supper Exploded is based on a sculpture of the same name first on view at the artist’s solo show Pop! at Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, 2013. The exhibition’s main themes explored corruption, excess and debauchery in contemporary society, with particular reference to the most recent on-going economic crisis. In The Last Supper Exploded, Shonibare investigates the worship of luxury goods and the reckless behaviour of in particular the financial industry by paying art historical homage to one of humanity’s best known artworks: Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper.

 

Yinka Shonibare [Website] [Twitter]

*quote taken from, Headless Bodies From a Bottomless Imagination – The New York Times

 

SEE IT NOW:

  • Until June 2017 a commission by artist Yinka Shonibare, produced by Up Projects for the Royal Opera House. Titled ‘Globe Head Ballerina’, on display on the exterior of the building overlooking Russell Street.  The work is inspired by a famous photograph of ballerina Margot Fonteyn. Shonibare’s sculpture depicts a life-size ballerina, modelled on Melissa Hamilton, a soloist with the Royal Ballet. Encased in a giant ‘snow globe’, the figure, whose head is a replica Victorian globe, rotates slowly.

    Spotlight: Yinka Shonibare MBE

    photo:Sim Canetty-Clarke, courtesy UP Projects ROH
    ‘Globe Head Ballerina’ by Yinka Shonibare

The More You Know:

Spotlight: Whitfield Lovell


Whitfield Lovell is a contemporary artist known primarily for his drawings and masterful installations based on vintage photographs of unidentified African Americans from the first half of the 20th century (usually between the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil Rights Movement). 

Lovell creates these drawings in pencil, oil stick, or charcoal on paper, wood, or directly on walls. In his most recent work, these drawings are paired with found objects that Lovell collects at flea markets and antique shops –  with these found objects he evokes personal memories, ancestral connections, and the collective American past.

Lovell’s work illuminates the humanity and richness of anonymous people, engraining their legacies in our cultural memory.*
“The importance of home, family, ancestry feeds my work entirely,” Lovell has said. “African Americans generally were not aware of who their ancestors were, since slaves were sold from plantation to plantation and families were split up.”

The More You Know:

Lovell’s major installations include: Visitation: The Richmond Project, which traveled to the University of Wyoming in Laramie, the Columbus Museum in Georgia, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Australia; SANCTUARY: The Great Dismal Swamp at the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia in Virginia Beach, VA; and Grace: A Project by Whitfield Lovell at the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York City.

Works by Whitfield Lovell are featured in major museum collections including The Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY: The Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC; The Smithsonian American Art Museum, DC; The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, DC; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, PA; The Yale University Art Gallery; The Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN; The Brooklyn Museum, NY; The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; Seattle Art Museum, WA, and many others.

*information culled from Whitfield Lovell’s bio.

 

Zoe Buckman: Mostly It’s Just Uncomfortable

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Mostly It’s Just Uncomfortable is part of Buckman’s response to the attack on Planned Parenthood in the United States, the consequent deprivation of access to free sexual health care for underserved women, as well as the attempted curtailing of a woman’s right to make choices concerning her own body.

Examining the cold and harsh material quality of gynecological instruments, Buckman finds a way of reversing her negative perception of these objects turning them into playful more tactile sculptural entities through the process of Powder Coating. This in-progress series of sculptures examines the physical discomfort women have to endure via these necessary and sometimes life-saving instruments. Also working with boxing iconography, Buckman has cast her own boxing gloves, hand wraps, and mouth guard in glass and metal, further marrying the stereotypically masculine to the feminine, and the fragile to the resilient. This dialogue between polarized materials is typical of Buckman’s work, yet the combat pieces speak to a new and more confrontational discourse in the artist’s process.*

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What’s Going On: Buckman is fresh off the latest group exhibitions “Off the Wall – For Freedoms”, at the Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago, IL.

Next Up: Harlem Postcards Fall/Winter 2016-2017, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY
•SoundScape Park Evening Film Program 2016, Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami, FL
•PULSE will also present the following works as part of the PROJECTS program: Zoe Buckman’s Champ, 2016, a neon work created in response to the attack on Planned Parenthood in the United States, the consequent deprivation of access to free sexual health care for underserved women, and the attempted curtailing of a woman’s right to make choices concerning her own body.

*statement from artist website

 

READYMADE: Contemporary Art from Bangladesh

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Twelve Gates Arts is hosting the first ever extensive survey of contemporary Bangladeshi art, curated by Aicon Gallery in New York. The exhibition features nine artists collectively exploring the complex and interlocking cultural, political, economic and environmental issues currently facing the often paradoxical and rapidly changing society and state of Bangladesh in the new millennium.

The show features: Kazi Salahuddin Ahmed, Masum Chisty, Khaled Hasan, Imran Hossain Piplu, Promotesh Das Pulak, Dhali Al Mamoon, Yasmin Jahan Nupur, Mohammad Wahiduzzaman & Wakilur Rahman.

On November 19th, Twelve Gates will also host a gallery talk with the shows’ curator’s, Projjal Dutta and Andrew Shea.  The discussion will take a deeper look a the curatorial process, and the trends of contemporary art in Bangladesh and the Indian subcontinent.  Reserve your space here at Twelve Gates Facebook page.

 

Readymade: Contemporary Art from Bangladesh
October 3 – November 20, 2014
Twelve Gates Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

 

Paris deflates McCarthy’s ‘so called’ Christmas Tree Installation cause it looks like…

Here’s a fine time to talk about how we view art. How many people see a Christmas tree and how many of you see…well, you know.

Tree Installation

US artist Paul McCarthy drew outrage from some Parisans’ when his 80 ft high installation erected at the famed landmark, Place Vendome was said to ‘vaguely’ resemble a Christmas Tree.

The inflatable green sculpture, Tree was part of FIAC (International Contemporary Art Fair), who gave the artist carte blanche to create a piece for the square as part of it’s ‘Beyond The Walls’ program.  Seems like they may have wanted to preview this one.

Shortly after its erection, came reports of vandals efforts to sabotage the piece by cutting the support cables, and tampering with the fans that allowed it to inflate properly.  The artist even reported being struck in the face by several angry bystanders. By Saturday evening, McCarthy agreed with the decision bring Tree down permanently.

McCarthy talked with French magazine, LeMonde on Friday, admitting that some of the inspiration for the installation was derived from a joke about a sex toy.  “It all started with a joke. Originally, I thought that a butt plug had a shape similar to the sculptures of Constantin Brâncusi. Afterwards, I realized that it looked like a Christmas tree,” McCarthy said.

“People can be offended if they want to think of it as a plug, but for me it is more of an abstraction.” (thanks Google Translator)

McCarthy Tree Sculpture

Lets’s face it…this is McCarthy’s style, less we forget his landing a giant pile of  inflatable poop on the lawn in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon district during the outdoor art project “Mobile M+: Inflation! or his 2011 ‘Santa’ sculpture in the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, which held that suspicious looking ‘tree’.

Meanwhile he’s got a new show coming up in Paris, Chocolate Factory, opening on October 25th at the CCC. I’m guessing that’s going to be the site of the next McCarthy controversy.

(AP Photos/Francois Mori,European Press Photo Agency )

story via RTnews, LeMonde, Wall Street Journal

 

SOCIAL POOL BY ALFREDO BARSUGLIAS

Artist, Alfredo Barsuglias put a pool in the Mojave desert or as I like to call it ‘more land art in the middle of nowhere’…yeah, Prada Marfa I’m talking about you.

Still its art I’d like to see.  Social Pool is eleven-by-five-feet wide geometric pool in the Southern California desert a few hours away from LA. The minimalist art sculpture is open for anybody to use.  Barsuglias has stipulated that only one person or small party at a time can use the pool, for no longer than 24 hours – but neither signs nor paths lead you there.  Once you make reservations to visit, the GPS coordinates of Social Pool as well as the key to open its mobile cover are provided.  There’s also the heads up that visitors should have a willingness “to walk a long distance to reach the pool from the nearest road”… the walk provides “time to reflect on social values, dreams and reality”.

Your future transformative journey to the Social Pool can still happen, it’s visiting season extends through September 30th.  Online Reservations are recommended, and can be made through the MAK Center for Art and Architecture.

 

Barsuglias Pool Spa

Barsuglias Pool

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MATTE BLACK HOUSE LANDS DOWN UNDER

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The 2014 Biennial of Australian Art ended this past Sunday and some spectacular images of the site specific installations have been creeping online. New York based artist, Ian Stranges’ ‘LANDED’ was commissioned for the Biennial and made a huge scene seemingly crash landing right in front of the Art Gallery of South Australia. The foreboding matte black house surrounded by rubble looks like missing scene from ‘The Wizard of OZ’ – only I’m pretty sure it would be the house of Dorothy’s nemesis.

images via Ian Strange’s website.

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Conceptual Art Hits The Runway

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Conceptual art is hitting the runway with designers dreaming big off of their art history backgrounds like Craig Green. Green’s new mens line features ropes that bind,  sculptural headdresses of wood planks that obscure the models faces forcing anonymity, and playful uses of light and dark conceptions that make his creations seem very much like moving contemporary installations blurring the lines between fashion show and art exhibit.

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