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Pick Six: The Armory Show 2011
The New York Times presented an overall favorable review of last week's Armory Show, pointing out that in lieu of the top dealers who have abandoned the show for more intimate and trendy venues, the cavernous pier 94 was filled with fresh curatorial blood, particularly from Latin America. This imparted a new energy lacking in recent years. From what I saw, I suppose this is the case, and I had a better time at the Piers this year than last, though I did not venture down to Chelsea for the "hipper" Independent Art Fair, so I can't say I saw the best New York had to offer.
I walked through the Armory Show with a trend forecaster, who suggested I look for allusions to space and science as 2012 approaches, with its astrological doomsday portents. Sure enough, we saw some nebular photographs and transcriptions of Age of Discovery celestial maps. Topical, but not enough for an apocalyptic trend, though there was one sculptural reference to nuclear annihilation. Mostly, I looked for challenging or provocative pieces, on the theory that that's why I came to this show. What I selected to share are six pieces that remained memorable three days later. In no specific order, they are:
• "Construction with orange figure" by German artist Thomas Kiesewetter. Sies+Hoke Gallery, Dusseldorf. Kiesewetter constructs monochromatic assemblages of various types of metal which form wonderfully balanced, though pointedly pointless and absurd, figures in space. Orange construction looks like an animated HVAC system on acid.
• Jonathan Schipper's kinetic sculpture of suspended neoclassical figures, shown by Brooklyn's Pierogi Gallery. The figures, of either cement or plaster, are hitched, marionette-like, to a mechanism that twitches, and bangs them into each other when it does so. The pile of debris on the ground continues to grow, in unpredictable ways. Schipper's body of work is a complex meditation on modern technology and its historical and abiding hold on our minds and bodies.
• "The Dead III" by Peruvian-born Ximena Garrido-Lecca. Max Wigram Gallery, London. A mixed-media construction resembling a stile or church, "The Dead III" riffs Garrido-Lecca's obsessions with memento mori and vanitas, 16th century reminders of transience and mortality, as well as the clash between Spanish and indigenous cultures. It is clearly religious, having to do with faith and spirituality but is catholic in the deeper and broader sense.
• Skunk-in-a-Chanel-bag by Venezuelan-born Javier Tellez. Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Switzerland. Tellez is a well-established artist and videographer. I liked the idea that a skunk inside a Chanel bag is still a skunk. I also liked the amount of floor space the gallerist devoted to this work. And I got a good picture of it.
• Multi-colored pegboard construction by Agathe Snow. Peres Projects, Berlin. Pegboard was a material of the moment in American design in the mid-1940's. I like seeing it reprised as art now.
• Person inside slats of wood. I didn't think this would make the cut, so I didn't record any information about the artist or gallery, but this pressata person stuck with me, so here he/she is. From the adjacent side, the person is invisible; the piece looks like a wood-slab construction. Anybody know who did this?