Art Fag City breaks with tradition at the L Magazine and provides a Top Five to all those other Top Ten lists. I wanted to say something reasonably significant about a lot of these picks, and I didn’t have the space to do that for ten. As a result, I bring you quality over quantity.
It was a volatile year for art: a number of strong new galleries opened on the Lower East Side while others around the city closed down; more than ever, art work responded to market excess (and the opposite of excess, as we'll see in 2009); on top of that, museums performed well, launching a slew of high-quality exhibitions. As always, there isn't enough space to mention all of the year's highlights, but here are a few of my top picks.
Prospect. 1 New Orleans Biennial
The cure for art fair overdose on Botox Island (South Beach Miami), Prospect. 1 in New Orleans offers a similarly sizable portion of art, but serves it up in a down-to-earth city where the food and lodging is actually affordable. The largest biennial to launch in the United States, the project serves to create economic stimulus for people still suffering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina, while re-establishing New Orleans as an art center. If the quality of art exhibited is any measure of the Biennial's success, curator Dan Cameron has to be happy; visitors will see more great work per square foot here than they will in New York. Prospect. 1 remains open until January 18, and is a must see for anyone interested in art.
New Silent Series at the New Museum
Taking its name from the theories of Neil Howe and William Strauss, who suggest new technologies will have a deep influence on the generation born after 1996, Lauren Cornell's multidisciplinary series included a number of screenings, performances and panel discussions by cultural workers invested in New Media. My favorite evenings included a talk by artist, writer and experimental geographer Trevor Paglen, who discussed challenges of creating objects to represent a world of secret government operations, when the goal of those organizations is to work without them. I also liked the Net Aesthetics 2.0 panel moderated by critic Ed Halter, which marked seemingly countless changes since the discussion's first incarnation only two years ago, most notably the emergence of surf blogs (group bloggers searching the web for images, essays and whatever else happens to spark their interest).
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