Last weekend, Open Space hosted their seventh annual Publications and Multiples Fair, a smorgasbord of DIY press, affordable artwork, and booths from artist-run spaces around the country. I posted a slideshow of the fair, but also went to about a dozen galleries neighboring the Baltimore Design School (site of PMF VII) and Open Space’s brick-and-mortar location. Below are some briefly-annotated highlights.
Open Space’s seventh annual Publications and Multiples Fair ran on Saturday and Sunday this past weekend at the Baltimore Design School. PMF is one of my all-time favorite art events—attracting DIY press, small publishers, artist-run spaces, and hundreds of artists working in a surprising variety of media. It’s free, most of the art is incredibly affordable, and the general vibe is somewhere between art fair and garage sale at a punk house.
The shear breadth of artists’ goods that one can actually buy is totally overwhelming—I’m sure I didn’t even see 60% of the highlights, but I snapped some photos of what caught my eye.
Last week, I visited Mexico City’s Zona MACO (México Arte Contemporaneo), Latin America’s largest art fair. This was on the heels of our visit to Material, a satellite fair that impressed Paddy and me beyond our expectations. Walking into MACO felt just like visiting the most art fair-y of art fairs by comparison—which is to say, the immediate experience was predictable. There were long convention center lines, groups of “fresas” queuing up to take selfies in reflective sculptures, and familiar overexposed blue-chip names such as Alex Katz and Richard Prince. (“Fresas” is Mexican slang for “yuppies”, literally translating to “strawberries”.) MACO devoted a good chunk of floor space to design wares—from furniture to high-end sunglasses. I wasn’t immediately inspired to lend the event much thought beyond snapping some photos. With a few days of reflection, I realize Zona MACO is noteworthy for its extremes. And that’s not just the quality or quantity of blatantly commercial crap. For all the lackluster blue chip staples on the floor, I also saw an impressive amount of well-curated project booths that smartly positioned emerging artists and galleries in dialogue with the establishment. These two poles served a useful purpose: they lay bare how contemporary art fairs function. Zona MACO is the best model I can think of to demonstrate how for-profit fairs must work to remain both commercially viable and discursively relevant. For better or for worse, MACO excels at both.
Now in it’s 12th year, NADA Miami Beach is still full of surprises, even compared to younger satellite fairs. For the first time, NADA is taking place in the storied Fontainebleau hotel. Since 2009, the fair had been located in the nearby Deauville’s quirkier, seemingly grander mid-century ballrooms. Paddy had mixed feelings about that context, but I find myself missing it. The Fontainebleau’s more recently-renovated spaces feel a little more generic and paradoxically fancier but less glamorous. The ceiling is lower, there’s no sweeping ocean view from the booths, and visitors must now pay a $20 admission fee. This iteration of NADA is only slightly geographically closer to the convention center, but significantly less far-off from Art Basel proper in spirit.
But while we were disappointed by Basel’s predictability and lack of variety, NADA 2015 is wonderfully inconsistent. NADA’s exhibitors seem to have grown out of a collective trend-invested “cool kid” adolescence and matured into thoughtfully idiosyncratic connoisseurship. Gone are the days of interchangeable booths with matching pastel-and-neon abstractions—here there’s a greater diversity of good work than we’ve witnessed at art fairs recently. Part of this might be attributed to NADA’s shifting demographics: the fair feels less New-York-centric and more international. Many of the booths that impressed us the most were from Germany, Latin America, or Japan.
Below, highlights from the fair, delightfully all over the map:
UNTITLED. organizers should be giving themselves a big pat on the back. Now its fourth year, the fair is clearly its strongest iteration yet. Part of this is just natural maturing of exhibitors over the course of the last few years—Asya Geisberg, SITE LAB, and Microscope are just three examples of programs that have consistently improved. But the fair’s also done a good job picking up strong new exhibitors, perhaps most notably this year, the Hole and Postmasters.
It’s hard to count all the ways the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) exhibition “Andy Warhol: Stars of the Silver Screen” fails. Lame gallery space, obvious exhibition design, poor exhibition maintenance all contribute to a terrible viewing experience. And it’s not the first time. The show is the latest in a string of underwhelming shows suggesting that the film centre and headquarters for TIFF might not be equipped to handle the major touring exhibitions it earnestly seeks to attract. In the five years since TIFF moved into the TIFF Bell Lightbox, a five-story glass-paneled complex in the heart of city’s entertainment district, its exhibition programming has struggled in going year-round.
Blame the HSBC Gallery, its main exhibition space. Despite state-of-the-art cinemas on upper levels gently twisting above an airy street level public atrium, it’s always struck me as an architectural afterthought. Any exhibitions I’ve seen — from a revamped version of MoMA’s Tim Burton exhibition to the TIFF-organized David Cronenberg retrospective survey — have felt cramped, and marred by exhibition design lacking any sort of intuitive flow or sense of movement for visitors.
Much has already been said about Greater New York, PS1’s massive survey of over 150 regional artists that spans deceased pioneers who cut their teeth in the 1970s to young, contemporary fashion designers. With that in mind, we’re going to offer a couple of slideshows, each with personal highlights, recommendations, and commentary from a different AFC writer. There’s really too much great work (and bad work) to cover it all in one post.
I’ve been to enough book fairs and then subsequently packed had to move apartments enough times that I wasn’t exactly holding onto my cash for dear life this year, as I have in past New York Art Book Fairs. No more 20 pound monographs for shows I’ve never seen, no more zines of doodles that didn’t make the artist website. I wouldn’t take a business card if I didn’t have to, I decided. I’m approaching my bookshelf with more criticality this year.
I think this probably happened to the book fair, too, or fellow New York customers, because it feels like there’s less crap this year, and the crap is at least not disguised as a book. With over 370 booksellers/antiquarians/artists/galleries/indy publishers, I’m probably projecting, but I swear there are less piles of overdesigned charts on newsprint and more T-shirts with doodles. Yay. This year I saw plenty of books which, if not for my apartment, I’d very much like to see added to my local art library, my friends’ bathrooms, communal workspaces, and dream mansion of the future. With bleeding eyes, here’s that selection…