Off Armory Show New York
Brent Birnbaum created a mountain of eleven running treadmills, assembled with clamps, ropes and extension cords at the annual SPRING/BREAK Art Show during Armory Week in New York. Occupying a non-descript room in the Skylight at Moynihan Station (in the historic James A. Farley Post Office Building), the candy-colored conveyor belts of Birnbaum’s treadmills captured the non-stop pace of a weekend saturated with fairs, exhibitions and parties. Curators Elizabeth Denny and Craig Poor Monteith described the treadmills as relics of a capitalist dream, in which the purchase of a product has the potential to transform one’s life and lead to self-improvement. This was all the more poignant in the context of SPRING/BREAK, where form overrides function, and value is altered by framing the treadmill as an art object rather than a cardio machine.
At PULSE New York, familiar faces included curator extraordinaire Claire Breukel (MARTE Contemporary), who moderated a “Perspectives” talk on Miami art programs with panelists Brandi Reddick (Miami-Dade Art in Public Places) and Carolyn Travis (Bal Habour Cultural Initiative). Art Lexing presented Beijing-based artist Ye Hongxing, who juxtaposes stickers, toys and Western pop paraphernalia with traditional Chinese motifs. In a truly incredible solo installation, Hongxing was nominated for a PULSE Prize. Not one but three Miami galleries were up for this juried award, with painter Elisabeth Condon of Emerson Dorsch winning the cash grant.
Two highlights of Armory Week included Independent Art Fair and VOLTA NY. Thoughtful spatial composition replaced traditional booths at Independent, leaving art, sculptures and the building’s structural features to do most of the partitioning in a fluid and poetic floor plan. Though VOLTA’s new location at the piers also brought changes to the layout, the fair’s content was especially strong and possessed a distinct Caribbean edge. In an interview with New York Observer, Amanda Coulson, head of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas and VOLTA’s artistic director, said “I am fortunate to be currently living in the Caribbean and, as such, have a front row seat to the burgeoning art scene that has been simmering for over a decade.”
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