I haven’t been filled with warm feelings for Scope lately. I know they try, but too many galleries have scary off the record stories about their experiences, I receive more than my fair share of abusive emails from that organization, and frankly, I found their Miami fair depressing. Add to this, tips from artists whose work had been forced out of the show by Scope DURING THE INSTALLATION PROCESS (all the fairs do some management of galleries they feel are under performing, but this usually takes the form of wait listing or not inviting back galleries), and reports of thin attendance, and you’ve got a blogger filled with some fairly serious reservations.
Having said that, much to my surprise, the fair was one of the strongest they’d held in years. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t approach Pulse or the Armory as far as quality goes, but Scope certainly gave Volta a run for their money, and at least when I was there, there were no shortage of attendees. I’m happy to report, Scope quite ably distinguishes themselves from both Bridge and Red Dot.
Which is to say, for the first time in Scope’s history, there was no art in that show I found so awful I was embarrassed to be near it. A lot of it was mediocre mind you, Jack The Pelican presented Wes Heiss’s Golden Ratio, a mildly clumsy take on Koons‘ Two Ball 50/50 Tank (Spalding Dr. J Silver Series, Spalding Dr. J 241 Series), Seon Ghi Bahk’s hanging stone columns may give Soto a run for his money in regards to installation difficulty, but for average payoffs, and Ted Tucker’s installation at Christopher Cutts was hip enough to verge on uninteresting. However, unlike previous years, I could at least identify distinguish the god, the bad, everything in between, because there was enough space to view it. The cafeteria was moved from the middle of the fair to the back, and this time around Scope provided all kinds of places to sit. Also, some what appropriately, the video art was projected amongst the couches for fair attendees to rest on.
If there’s a reason to attend this fair, in a word, it’s 33 Bond. Fawad Khan’s drawing Go Postal (We Deliver For You) and large scale installation featuring a painted US postal service truck with adapted branding exploding along the walls are commanding as objects, and effective as political commentary. Drawing from media culture, the current war, and his own background as a Pakistani-American born on a Libyan military base and raised in Karachi before moving to the US at the age of 8, Khan depicts the destruction of an essential US government service. The vehicle of choice is no accident I’m sure given the slanted state of media communications in this country, and the continuing sale and outsourcing of government services to an increasingly unregulated private sector. While sadly, the opportunity to view this work and others at Scope has past, 33 Bond hosts a solo show of the artists’ work until the 24th of April. Surely, at least some small part of evaluating the effectiveness of Scope’s New York fair will be found in the willness and excitement of collectors and viewers to the galleries they’ve seen at the fairs in the months to come.