Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Born to Be Late

Part I

26 February 2007 (late afternoon)

One thing that happens during art fairs, markets or big annual/biennial/etc. themed or juried exhibitions is an accumulation of media – artist info, gallery info, printed images, text, check/price lists, catalogues, special (or not so) editions of magazines, posters, flyers, business cards. I start out trying to set limits on these accumulations; but I always find myself wanting the information – ALL OF IT AND AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE – as soon as I can have it. The rationalization is that I will need to deal with it when I get back to wherever I’m staying and start reducing my notes to something that looks intelligible on the printed page – or in any case is some improvement over the scrawl and dingbats that fill page after page between isolated words and figures. Occasionally I really do need the information and actually start USING IT more or less immediately. How far I progress with it is another issue entirely. So I end up with fifty-plus (or more) additional pounds to shlep back to the airport. No problem, you think – use a cart; check it curbside with a skycap; you’re only going as far as the counter. How hard can it be? Try – AGONIZING! Try – IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN TO ME AGAIN! So I headed over to FedEx today to drop off a small truckload of printed material going back to L.A. The tab came to over $80.00. Worth every penny.

I was going to hook up with my gallerist-always-on-the-go pal, Kathleen (someone should market an energy drink specifically for the art world based on whatever makes her brain and body function the way it does – which is to say non-stop. She’s always at least one hour, five miles and at least twenty-five emerging artists ahead of me.) at either Scope or the Armory Show; but I missed her by minutes at the Armory and I still had to run through the show again – complicated (or simplified) by the fact that many of the initially displayed works had sold over the preceding two days. In the meantime, I was waylaid by one dealer after another, either visiting (some for the FIRST! time) or exhibiting, eager to chat or pick my brain on one point or another. Hey – at this point, I’m running blind just like everyone else I want to say. I’m jotting notes as I run and (see above) I ALWAYS WANT TO KNOW MORE – but I’m running out of time.

Everyone’s determined, serious, in a hurry, and/or just anxious to be done with it. That seems to be the momentum of these things. There’s no line at the coatcheck not because it’s not crowded – it’s actually more crowded than I expected – but because people have left their coats on. They’re here to pick up whatever they’ve bought, get out and take it home. It’s funny what catches your eye the second time around as opposed to the first, and sometimes there’s no figuring why. The big Michael Wolf “Architecture of Density” C-prints stand out a bit more at Janet Oh (Seoul) than the first time when I had no time for them; and I wonder why I’m impatient about something like the Zadok Ben-David filigree silhouette foliage. I have time for the Simon English drawings over at Galerie Romerapotheke (Zurich) that I wouldn’t have given a day or so ago. What can I say? – I’m in a Felicien Rops state of mind? There’s something unsettling and compelling about these tight disjunctive narrative vignettes – and I come away thinking about the persistent connections between sex/sexuality and insecurities. Both here and over at the Armory, it’s great to see new adventurous work coming out of Paris again. I don’t know if I’m a Paris snob. I live in L.A., but I have a sentimental bond with Paris. Jean Brolly has always been a pretty adventurous gallery, and it was great to see Tatjana Doll’s work (she’s a German artist based in Berlin) in their space. Claudine Papillon (also Paris) showed Frederique Loutz’s disturbing, enigmatic drawings. The disjunct narrative, anecdote or story/character ‘rebus’ template has an analogue in the ‘inventory’ drawings one sees all over the place these days – this year, too. Cynthia Broan (London) showed Elise Eaglen’s recent drawings from a study of a virology laboratory, but I was more taken with the Shannon Lucy symbolic, gestural, “Bad Though No. 7” (additional text: “Please don’t be sad …. I’m sorry.”) If I sound a bit rudderless, it’s not a misperception. I’m still trying to figure it all out – here and elsewhere in the various shows. That’s what intrigues me and pulls me back – at least for a second look. Dean Dass showed similar ‘inventory’ drawings at the ADA space (Richmond, Virginia). But they couldn’t help being eclipsed by the impressive Stephen Hendee installation piece which dominated the space with its quasi-architectural presence (a kind of shadow or pseudo-construction – a bridge fit for the River Styx) and violence. The most intriguing work – intriguing in its offhandedness, its unabashed (and exuberant) recycling of kitsch – was the ceramic, resin, etc. sculptures by Jared Lindsay Clark (one of which, I overheard another customer saying, had recently been purchased by Cindy Sherman). Does he have an L.A. dealer? Maybe he should. Mary Younakoff, an L.A. artist, had her own heroically scaled treatments of kitsch (in the form of dolls, action figures, war toys, comics) showcased in an eye-popping installation at the Amsterdam gallery, Art Affairs’ space. (It was hard to miss if you were either checking or picking up a coat.)

It was fabulous to run into Kulov from Bank again. I thought he had already left for Paris. But I didn’t get to join him in another whirlwind dash through the place as I had the previous night at Pier 94, which was a disappointment. (Once I got back down to the Pier, though, I did not lack for other whirlwind companions.) He has one of the fastest eyes around. (Note to self: call Dr. Breger back in L.A.)

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