The Hip and Practical: Attend Two New NYC Art Fairs

by Paddy Johnson on March 2, 2011 · 3 comments Art Fair

Soloway installation shot

No offense to New York, but its art fairs are so dull that artists, curators and collectors must constantly look for something new to break the monotony. In 2008  the Dark Fair served this purpose (with art in the dark), and last year The Independent was lauded for its fresh take (which, as I mentioned yesterday, basically meant it had fewer walls).

So, what’s in store for us this year? Two new fairs: one hip, questionable, and brief  (The Dependent, Friday evening only), the other less hip, but with some services I expect to see other fairs incorporate in years to come (Moving Image).

“There is a distinct void during Armory week for an intelligent inexpensive do-it-yourself art fair,” Dependent fair founder Rose Marcus told ArtINFO’s In The Air recently. Of course, every director talks about the “void” their fair is filling, whether it’s true or not. In this case, it would appear that what’s been lacking is reality TV-like competitions. “The exhibitors will install artists' work in one hour,” Marcus explained, “and have to negotiate the existing condition of the small hotel room, replete with furniture and all the middle-brow amenities commonly provided.” This sounds like my kind of disaster! As I mentioned yesterday, I’m particularly excited about the participants, which include KS Art, CANADA, Reference, Soloway, and Cleopatras.

Meanwhile, over at the Waterfront Tunnel, Edward Winkleman organizes a show full of everyone’s favorite medium, video. I deride the medium in jest, but let’s be honest, getting people to slow down enough during an art fair to watch a flick they know will lack giant fireballs and car chases isn’t easy. Still, video’s seen an upswing in popularity, so the fair comes at a timely moment.

Structurally, Moving Image uses an interesting model. “We're designing [the fair] so that [gallerists] don't need to be there all the time.” Winkleman told me, “We have a “gallerist lounge”. That is set up for both a place to bring your collectors, possibly show them other works that you have, but also a place to work.  We will have wireless printers, office supplies, and tables, and the ability to use the Wi-fi and everything.  So the goal with that is: spend as much time there as is useful for you [as a dealer], but if it's more useful for you to run off to MoMA or do a studio visit, or go see one of the other fairs, what we have in place is what we're calling a “forwarding service”. This does as its name says: absent dealers are sent text messages from the fair when an interested collector makes an inquiry.

Arguably this isn’t quite as sexy as a one day DIY fair, but I’m interested none the less. I like it when people use technology in ways that make sense. Moving Image, much like the Dependent, aren’t about to re-invent the New York art fair landscape; that’s probably for the better. New York art fairs need an overhaul, but most of that will need to come from the largest fairs.

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