Scope has a lot of problems, but their inability to distinguish between good freak art and bad gives them a reputation as the art circus we reluctantly visit. Friendswithyou Fun House for example, this year’s contribution to the fair’s trademark exceedingly high noise level, fills the back end of the tent with their inflatable fun house and obnoxiously loud performances repelling art viewers as fast as they arrive. They may only run the performance once near the end of the day, but it’s still too much.
Now located along the same strip as many of the fairs in Wynwood, Scope’s giant tent connected to Art Asia stands out for its sheer size alone. Giant art commissions mark the entrance to the fair as they did last year and generally speaking these works are more successful than the fair itself. So, while the Funhouse and Mr. Brainwash’s humorless giant Obama superman dipytch just outside the Scope tent don’t add much to to the show, The Girl Project, a fantastic nation wide initiative asking teenage girls to photograph themselves conceived by Kate Englebrecht, is a unique and powerful portrait of American teenage identity as told by the girls themselves. It helps that the piece is placed in the entry way of the building thereby physically separating it from the rest of the fair; lesser work doesn’t interfer with its reading.
Genesis P-Orridge’s wolf head tampon bubble gum machine and Mickey Smith’s photographs of books at Invisible Exports. Photo AFC
If specific individual idiosyncratic expression is the mark of the most powerful art work made today, Invisible Exports presents by far the strongest booth at Scope primarily with the work of Genesis P-Orridge. Described without exaggeration by dealer Benjamin Tischer as one of the most interesting men alive, P-Orridge is arguably best known as the front man for Throbbing Gristle an experimental music and visual arts group, and video art and music group Psychic TV. “The key element in so much of what I’ve done is investigating the nature of identity,” P-Orridge told Radar Magazine recently, his work at Invisible Exports presumably one exploration of that subject. To be honest, while the half naked photograph documenting the plastic surgery he and his wife have had to make themselves look alike clearly investigates these ideas, I’m not entirely sure how the wolf head on the tampon bubble gum machine, or the gold shoe with a horn addresses these concerns. But, both express a powerful appetite for the sexual, so I figure there’s enough there to build the argument.
Cliff Evans, The Road To Mount Weather, 2006, Photo AFC
Choosing a different medium for creepy expression, just down the hall, Curator’s Office presents Cliff Evans’ giant video projection The Road to Mount Weather. Masterfully collaging and transitioning images culled from the web, The Road to Mount Weather presents a Rosler-esque look at American war time politics. The piece isn’t perfect — at times the politic expression in this work becomes a little too moralizing and obvious for my tastes — but overall its sheer inventiveness of collaged imagery out wieghs a few stumbling points in content. Certainly the work is far more accomplished than I gave it credit for two years ago when I reviewed it for The Reeler. It’s hard to articulate exactly what changed for me over the last two years, but to generalize, at some point it started to seem like a really bad idea to penalize Internet based work too heavily for bombastity since it is its stock and trade.
With that said, I haven’t yet come around on Scope for presenting the like as the fair organizers never manage to make the basic distinction between sophomoric and inventive. Surely this year’s bronze sculpture of decapitated man eating his own asshole at Gallery Peithner-Lichtenfels- Vienna makes this point better than I ever could.