From the category archives:


NADA Highlights, Part 1

by Michael Anthony Farley on December 4, 2015
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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:

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SLIDESHOW: UNTITLED’s Strongest Showing Yet

by Paddy Johnson on December 4, 2015
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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.

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Another Failed Exhibition at TIFF: “Warhol: Stars of the Silver Screen”

by Rea McNamara on November 25, 2015
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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.

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Highlights From PS1’s Greater New York, Part 1

by Michael Anthony Farley on October 16, 2015
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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.

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Curating in a Loaded Void: Art in Berlin’s Vacant Communist Architecture

by Rea McNamara on September 18, 2015
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When I’m in Berlin, I often think about the city’s most oft told quote, “Berlin is a city that never is, but is always in the process being.” Art critic Karl Scheffler penned those words over 100 years ago and they still seem relevant.

It’s a city that has had to adapt to unfavourable circumstances: the end of the Weimar Republic, the rise of the Third Reich, the postwar allied occupation that led to building the wall separating East and West. The wall was a stark embodiment of the foundational clash between communism and capitalism: the East had its monumental Stalinist architecture, the West its modular concrete utopias. Post-reunification Berlin saw the slow merging of these separate ideologies, and the enduring spatial fiction is that of a city always under construction.

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Blue is the New Black

by Rea McNamara on September 17, 2015
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At the press openings for Art Berlin Contemporary (abc) and Positions Berlin, one could sense a change is the in the air. The currents are changing. We’ve arrived at a new moment.

No, I’m not talking about the art — I’m talking about the art world uniform. If you don’t mind, I’m going to indulge in the following bit of Kay-Thompson-as-Diana-Vreeland trend forecasting, with a dash of Bill Cunningham street style sass thrown in.

New Yorkers, you may live and die by your all-black outfit. It’s what takes you from your studio visit to your reading group to your opening to the hush-hush post-vernissage dinner. But the Germans are heading in a different direction: they’re wearing blue.

Seriously. Blue is the new black.

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The Yami-Ichi Flea Market at The Knockdown Center: The 150th Wing of the Internet

by Paddy Johnson on September 15, 2015
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I spent most of Saturday smiling so hard my face hurt. That’s because I milled about the Internet Yami-Ichi for no less than three hours, which is a little like landing in the 150th wing of Internet and discovering there’s a very, very strange party going on. The day long event was actually a giant flea market hosting more than 140 vendors inside Masbeth’s Knockdown Center, a renovated factory space with brick walls, wooden support beams and 40 feet high ceilings. It was a fitting contrast to the vendors wares which were new, disposable and typically useless.

While there, I bought two used passwords for 25 cents a piece, a printout of an old meme I didn’t recognize on office paper for five bucks, two instagram prints printed at a resolution determined by the number of likes it received and plastic five dollar USB drive with animated GIFs on it. I also took home two free badges and a 32 page coffee stained zine filled with Internet slang.

Basically, it’s the best art fair ever. And that’s not just because I was able to buy something. At almost every booth someone was making something driven by their passion for online culture. These are the people who make up the nerdocracy that once ruled the web, and they haven’t gone away. If anything they’ve just gotten weirder. And that’s a very good thing. Highlights after the jump.

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Checking in at DUMBO Newcomer Usagi NY

by Michael Anthony Farley on August 21, 2015
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A new exhibition space, which bills itself as a “concept store”, opened last month in DUMBO. Usagi NY combines a gallery, cafe, and library in a crisp and surprisingly functional 2,800 sq ft space designed by Sou Fujimoto. The cafe and reading area are quietly tucked in the back, resulting in a gallery that isn’t too cluttered but still manages to feel more gregarious than the average white-box space. It’s a rare example of a multi-use space where the artwork doesn’t feel like an afterthought, which is an accomplishment. Their inaugural show is organized around the Japanese designer Kenya Hara’s theory that the color white inspires creativity—along with a unifying thread of projects that involve commerce, research, or technology.

Some highlights after the jump.

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Brooklyn to Baltimore: A Celebration of Artist-Run Spaces

by Michael Anthony Farley on July 30, 2015
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The collective behind Brooklyn’s Transmitter gallery has partnered with Guest Spot @ The Reinstitute in Baltimore to present the exhibition Self-Organized — Aesthetics Politics of the Artist Run. The show ambitiously offers a cross-section of work by twenty-nine artists who have co-founded or directed art spaces or publications in New York, Baltimore, Latin America, Holland, and beyond.

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