Inside the Armory All photos Karen Archey
Were the collectors of loud gaudy bling art the first victims of the stock market crash? Looks like it, because there’s a whole lot less gold Pringle trees at the Armory this year. Expanded and sprawling through two piers, the 2009 version of this fair looks a lot like Art Basel in size and scope, though I’m not convinced that was ever a useful model to be emulated. After all, nobody’s doing art any favors if the format of the fair overwhelms the viewer. Not that this hasn’t always been an issue at the Armory — it was frustratingly large when it was just the International fair a year ago — adding the Modern section just seems cruel and unusual punishment to anyone attending.
Lawrence Weiner, A Bit Beyond What Is Designated As The Pale, 2007, Language and the materials referred to. Lisson Gallery
As in previous years, the quintessential character of the Armory remains. Crassly commercial as ever, it’s hard to know what to think of any thing; it all looks like you should buy it. This year however, feels significantly different than others, if for no other reason than the dealers have a little more time to talk about the work. This combined with few blinking distractions meant that for the first time since I started reporting on these fairs four years ago, I was able to absorb more than just the formal attributes of a work.
LEFT: N.E. Thing Co. Ltd, Act #29, Storage Tank, Ballantyne Pier Area, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, 1969, black and white photograph mounted on board, 27 1/2 x 39 1/2 inches, RIGHT: N.E. Thing Co. Ltd, Act #12, Triangular Face, 30 miles North of Kimberly, B.C., Canada, 1969, black and white photograph mounted on board, 27 1/2 x 39 1/2 inches,
Probably the best example of this comes from Iain Baxter, a well known Canadian artist also working under the name N.E. Thing Co. LTD in collaboration with Ingrid Baxter currently on display in the Jane Corkin booth. The above pictures constitute ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing), one of two legalistic stamps the company applied to found material (the other being Aesthetical Rejected Things). Now, N.E. Thing Co. a familar name to anyone who went to art school in Canada holds significance because it represents a unique artistic and curatorial effortm, to recognize and evaluate relevant cultural material to the artistic practice. While we see many permuations of this type of artistic effort in contemporary art — The Dotted Line, an exhibition of administration at Rotunda Gallery a prime example — much is owed to those pioneering the practice in the late sixties.
Iain Baxter&, Still Life, Small Bag, Vacuum formed plastic, 1965, (large), 32 x 36 inches, Jane Corkin Gallery
Certainly, this can also be seen in Iain Baxter’s Vacuum formed plastic pieces, work my intern Karen Archey wisely identified as an early predecessor to artist Seth Price’s similarly conceived vacuum sealed vintage bomber jacket. Interestingly, Corkin also has a pre Jeff Wall photographic light box Baxter made in 1974.
IAIN BAXTER&, Strip Mall, Toronto, Ontario, 1974, duratan lightbox, 18 x 27 x 5 1/2 inches Courtesy: Corkin Gallery, Toronto