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On Zona MACO: How to Excel at Being an Average Art Fair

by Michael Anthony Farley on February 11, 2016
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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.

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This Week’s Must See Events: Suggested Double Dates

by Paddy Johnson and Michael Anthony Farley on December 14, 2015
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This week, good events come in pairs. Art handling gets its moment of glamour with a charity calendar launch on Tuesday at Field Projects and a workshop at the Cue Foundation on Saturday. Wednesday night, hop from holiday parties at Postmasters and Ortega y Gasset. Or attend Sondra Perry’s screening and artist talk at EAI. Perry also has a closing reception at Recess the next night. And if simulacra of tragedies is your thing, check out the creepy photos of Corinne May Botz at Benrubi Gallery or Vincent Tiley’s “Sad Pretty Boys” at Christopher Stout Gallery, on Thursday and Friday respectively.

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Palpable Momentum Felt at EXPO Chicago

by Robin Dluzen on September 21, 2014
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When EXPO Chicago started in 2012, the popular opinion was that President and Director Tony Karman had five years to make this fair great. If he couldn’t, it was likely dead in the water. This weekend marked year three of the midwest fair, and exhibitors and attendees remarked on the palpable momentum. 19 Chicago galleries participated, the highest number yet, and EXPO continued to draw galleries from around the world, including repeat exhibitors like New York’s CRG Gallery who has been on board all three years, and Diana Lowenstein Gallery of Miami, who has been exhibiting at Chicago fairs every year since the 90s.

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