Will Any New York Fair Best Pulse?

by Art Fag City on March 29, 2008 · 34 comments Events

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Pulse installation view, photo via AFC

Never under estimate the power of exhibition design. The minute I arrived at Pulse I felt enthusiastic about the fairs again. No over cramped booths, very wide aisles, a large open public exhibition space; I may not have liked everything I saw, but at least I could look at it. Speaking to this, the floor plan created several large open walls with long vantage points, none of which were diminished by the amateurish hanging I witnessed at so many of the other fairs. Rather than filling a large space with countless tiny drawings, work appropriately sized hung on these walls.

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Mark Shetabi in the Pulse entrance. Also at Jeff Bailey. Photo AFC

As a fair attendee enters Pulse, Mark Shetabi iterative models and paintings of a nondescript GTA inspired parking garage fills the front room. I’m not convinced its the best work of art I’ve ever seen — even though it intends to leave a viewer cold, viral banality as a concept plays out fairly quickly — but as objects they do manage to maintain some authority. The sculpture sets the stage for the next ten or so booths; not too much in the form of “good” or “engaging” art shows up, mediocre art finally receiving its moment in the spotlight (as if the rest of the fairs weren’t enough.) Timothy Greenfield Sanders’ flat portraits of amputee soldiers exemplify this, succeeding in little more than documenting its subject.

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Kim Rugg at P.P.O.W., photo AFC

P.P.O.W., marks the changing of the tides in this fair, the majority of its booth filled with engaging work. A suite of four gritty Kaleidoscope-esque prints by Carolee Schneeman documenting her nude performance on a train track struck a chord with me — their denial of beauty seeming more calculated and rationalized than much of the fashionably ugly work I’ve seen at the Whitney or the New Museum. Kim Rugg‘s envelopes also interested me, even if there was more to the process of determining their success than the work itself. Remaking stamp compositions by slicing them up and rearranging the bits is a bit of a one trick pony, but I suppose the real art happens when she mails the suckers. The UK postal system reads pigment, as opposed to using image recognition software, so the idea that color engages distribution may not be so bad, but I’m still not convinced mailing the letter leaves us with anything more than a fun factoid.

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Leo Villareal at Conner Contemporary, Photo AFC

On the subject of art with what seems to be limited meaning, perhaps someone can explain to me the appeal of Leo Villareal, because as far I can tell, his blinky light pieces, represent a refined version of a Times Square billboard.

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Pieter Hugo, Mallam Galadima Ahmadu with Jamis, Nigeria, C-Print, Photo AFC

To my mind, Yossi Milo had the strongest booth of the fair, which isn’t too much of a surprise given his strong stable of artists. A beautiful suite of horizons by Sze Tsung Leong hang on one wall tempering what might otherwise become a heavy opposing wall, with a 68 x 68 inch photograph of a Nigerian man and his giant musseled dog by Pieter Hugo, and two creepy Loretta Lux portraits of children.

Chez Bushwick
Chez Bushwick, photo AFC

Finally, at the far end of the Pier rests a large cafeteria with plenty of seats, Wifi access and a large performance space. At 7:00 pm yesterday I watched Chez Bushwick’s The Invention of Minus One, 2008, a star studded collaborative dance project including music by Christian Marclay, Costumes by Isaac Mizrahi, and the dancers Jonah Bokaer, Jean Freebury, and Banu Ogan. More on that and Dark Fair to come.

  • http://howtobuyart.blogspot.com Lisa Hunter

    Yossi Milo gallery has such amazing taste in artists. I’m not at all surprised to hear you say it was a stand-out.

  • http://howtobuyart.blogspot.com Lisa Hunter

    Yossi Milo gallery has such amazing taste in artists. I’m not at all surprised to hear you say it was a stand-out.

  • http://howtobuyart.blogspot.com Lisa Hunter

    Yossi Milo gallery has such amazing taste in artists. I’m not at all surprised to hear you say it was a stand-out.

  • http://howtobuyart.blogspot.com Lisa Hunter

    Yossi Milo gallery has such amazing taste in artists. I’m not at all surprised to hear you say it was a stand-out.

  • http://www.ianvancoller.com Ian

    The man holding the Hyena is Nigerian, not South African. Pieter Hugo is South African.

  • http://www.ianvancoller.com Ian

    The man holding the Hyena is Nigerian, not South African. Pieter Hugo is South African.

  • http://www.ianvancoller.com Ian

    The man holding the Hyena is Nigerian, not South African. Pieter Hugo is South African.

  • http://www.ianvancoller.com Ian

    The man holding the Hyena is Nigerian, not South African. Pieter Hugo is South African.

  • Art Fag City

    Thanks Ian! Correction made.

  • Art Fag City

    Thanks Ian! Correction made.

  • Art Fag City

    Thanks Ian! Correction made.

  • Ben Stewart

    You’re way off base on this one. Pulse was HORRIBLE! The long entrance, the false walls, there was chaos everywhere! Too much art, too many exhibitors! Volta was a much better fair, easy to navigate, solo shows, room to breath, natural light. And your argument about it being commercial – isn’t that what a fair is!? If you want non-profit programming, go to a non-profit. If you’re a buyer, go to a fair!

  • Ben Stewart

    You’re way off base on this one. Pulse was HORRIBLE! The long entrance, the false walls, there was chaos everywhere! Too much art, too many exhibitors! Volta was a much better fair, easy to navigate, solo shows, room to breath, natural light. And your argument about it being commercial – isn’t that what a fair is!? If you want non-profit programming, go to a non-profit. If you’re a buyer, go to a fair!

  • Ben Stewart

    You’re way off base on this one. Pulse was HORRIBLE! The long entrance, the false walls, there was chaos everywhere! Too much art, too many exhibitors! Volta was a much better fair, easy to navigate, solo shows, room to breath, natural light. And your argument about it being commercial – isn’t that what a fair is!? If you want non-profit programming, go to a non-profit. If you’re a buyer, go to a fair!

  • Ben Stewart

    You’re way off base on this one. Pulse was HORRIBLE! The long entrance, the false walls, there was chaos everywhere! Too much art, too many exhibitors! Volta was a much better fair, easy to navigate, solo shows, room to breath, natural light. And your argument about it being commercial – isn’t that what a fair is!? If you want non-profit programming, go to a non-profit. If you’re a buyer, go to a fair!

  • Art Fag City

    Nobody is saying the fairs aren’t a for profit enterprise. All I’m saying is that the supplemental programming — the stuff that doesn’t make the fairs money — is important, and can lessen the commercial feel. Frieze has all kinds of supplemental programming and as a result feels like the least crassly commercial fair of them all. That’s a good thing.

    As for Pulse, perhaps you went at a different time than I did, because when I was there, there weren’t very many people, and it certainly didn’t feel like there was too much art. Volta was boring by comparison.

  • Art Fag City

    Nobody is saying the fairs aren’t a for profit enterprise. All I’m saying is that the supplemental programming — the stuff that doesn’t make the fairs money — is important, and can lessen the commercial feel. Frieze has all kinds of supplemental programming and as a result feels like the least crassly commercial fair of them all. That’s a good thing.

    As for Pulse, perhaps you went at a different time than I did, because when I was there, there weren’t very many people, and it certainly didn’t feel like there was too much art. Volta was boring by comparison.

  • http://www.paulpincus.com Paul Pincus

    Sze Tsung Leong’s Horizon series is stunning and Pieter Hugo’s portraits from The Hyena and Other Men are very, very powerful. I’m with Lisa, I was not surprised that Yossi Milo’s booth was so strong…and easily one of the best!

    Loretta Lux confuses me.

  • http://www.paulpincus.com Paul Pincus

    Sze Tsung Leong’s Horizon series is stunning and Pieter Hugo’s portraits from The Hyena and Other Men are very, very powerful. I’m with Lisa, I was not surprised that Yossi Milo’s booth was so strong…and easily one of the best!

    Loretta Lux confuses me.

  • Ben Stewart

    Why lessen the commercial feel? Why does commercial = crass? That’s one of the central functions of art – something to be bought and sold.

  • Ben Stewart

    Why lessen the commercial feel? Why does commercial = crass? That’s one of the central functions of art – something to be bought and sold.

  • Ben Stewart

    Why lessen the commercial feel? Why does commercial = crass? That’s one of the central functions of art – something to be bought and sold.

  • Ben Stewart

    By the way, isn’t your headline misspelled here? Shouldn’t it read beAt?

  • Ben Stewart

    By the way, isn’t your headline misspelled here? Shouldn’t it read beAt?

  • Ben Stewart

    By the way, isn’t your headline misspelled here? Shouldn’t it read beAt?

  • Ben Stewart

    By the way, isn’t your headline misspelled here? Shouldn’t it read beAt?

  • Ben Stewart

    Why lessen the commercial feel? Why does commercial = crass? That’s one of the central functions of art – something to be bought and sold.

  • Ben Stewart

    By the way, isn’t your headline misspelled here? Shouldn’t it read beAt?

  • Art Fag City

    Ben: Refer to your dictionary. Best is a verb too.

  • Art Fag City

    Ben: Refer to your dictionary. Best is a verb too.

  • Ben Stewart

    Just because it’s allowable, doesn’t mean it’s right :o }

  • Ben Stewart

    Just because it’s allowable, doesn’t mean it’s right :o }

  • Ben Stewart

    Just because it’s allowable, doesn’t mean it’s right :o }

  • Ben Stewart

    Just because it’s allowable, doesn’t mean it’s right :o }

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