It’s hard to shit on NADA. It’s free and the art is consistently strong. Every time I visit, I am happy for having seen good art.
This year is no different, but I left feeling a little disappointed, regardless. By NADA’s own standards, the fair felt more commercially driven. There were fewer risks being taken and the weird shit they’re known for was generally confined to a booth. Last year in New York, Shoot the Lobster presented their booth in a car. In 2013, Merkx & Gwynne built out a film set-cum-installation for their “King Arthur Rock Opera” that included a mock, saddled war horse, and a stage draped with fabric and adorned with flags.
What booth-defying installations did 2015 bring? The Hole wrapped their booth in cheap see-through plastic, and Vaginal Davis’s enclosed booth at Rod Bianco left only two, short entrances. Not bad, but those are no opera.
It’s also hard not to remark on the sheer volume of painting at this year’s fair. Even Bitforms, a gallery known for its representation of artists who use technology in their art was showing painting.
I haven’t seen any of NADA’s public programing yet, so maybe that will adjust my point of view. But, frankly, that’s not why most of us go to the fairs. I’m not sure what it will take to bring back the car booths and musicals, but I want to see them.
None of this is to say that there weren’t good works at the fair. On the contrary, NADA presents more quality work than any other fair we attend. Michael Anthony Farely nailed most of highlights on Friday, but here are few others below.