The idea behind Scope is to provide a venue for emerging artists in an arena which is typically closed to people in this stage of their career. For this reason, as a concept art fair Scope has the most potential. However, as a successful creative venture they have never managed to pull it off. Scope is plagued with booths that are littered with crap, and programming efforts that with few exceptions are not well considered.
With the increase in art fair attendance, Scope’s move from the venue of the hotel makes a lot of sense. Last year, people actually left the fair, unwilling to walk up 11 flights of stairs to get to the exhibition spaces, and tired of waiting up to 30 minutes to ride in an elevator (that broke on more than one occasion). This year can be seen as a transitional year for the show because in addition to the change in venue, co-founder Robert Curcio has resigned. The degree to which the fair will change as a result of having Alexis Hubshman solely at the helm has yet to be seen, since according to their office a number of Scopes change initiatives were already underway when Curcio left. Certainly, by this time next year we should have a much clearer picture of how the fair will evolve.
Of course, the reason I bring all of this up is because the curatorial programming is so lacking in direction that I was unsure if there even was a head to this project. It turns out David Hunt is the lead curator, so we can hold him responsible for the inclusion of such projects as Clusterfuck. I didn’t think it was possible, but this collective is actually worse than last years two person human canvas effort which provided visitors with the opportunity to draw and paint on the gessoed suits the two artists were wearing. Clusterfuck also provides a unstretched canvas for people to work on, but adds a pile of shit in front of it, a large banner with insipid text that hangs over head of their booth, and four hipsters that are the archetype of a subculture that people have come to hate. Every half hour or so the group tours the fair on their moppets, beeping their horns and annoying the crap out of everyone. These actions are meaningless, which I suppose is the point, but it is this kind of pushing of the envelope that does nothing but solicit the stamp “return to sender”.
I have provided a photo reference above so there is no confusion as to what this booth actually looked like. The banner, which is the only piece in that space that has enough effort put into it to worthy any criticism is posted below. I should note that even these graphic design notes may be slightly misleading as they are more visually appealing than what was at the fair.
While Clusterfuck was certainly the low point of the fair, the high point was brought by David Ersser at the London gallery Seventeen Gallery.
The turntables shown above were fabricated in England, but Ersser came to New York creating the wooden wires in this piece specifically for the booth. I spoke to the artist at the fair, and he explained that because of the delicate nature of the material each time the work was installed much of it had to be made on location. The popularity of the artists choice of subject matter potentially is a point of criticism here, but given the level of technical mastery, I am willing to let it slide. Given the amount of work on line it’s hard to get an idea of what the rest of his sculptures are about, so we will just have to hope that his working concepts will ultimately become more complicated than simply drawing obvious connections between the contruction materials of many musical instruments and the synthetic ones of the turn tables.