It’s easy to forget, while cruising the aisles of the Armory Show, that there is water coursing beneath our feet. It’s harder to ignore when the water is above our heads. Recent snows and a sudden March thaw exacerbated a longtime-trouble at Pier 94, driving nails through the roof and sending water drizzling into the booths as they were being constructed. Up above the walls separating the galleries, the ceiling is strung with tarps and rolls of trash bags. They look a bit like post-apocalyptic hammocks.
“We’re adding diapers for now,” said a man with gray hair operating an enormous blue cherry picker. “It’s pretty bad.”
After patching up the ceiling near Berlin’s KOW gallery, he drove the machine over to Shanghai’s Madein Gallery and parked inside the booth. “We’re having a performance,” quipped Alexia Dehaene, a project director there, at the beginning of the VIP preview this afternoon. The colorful wall pieces were swathed in plastic. Were any of the works damaged? “Not yet,” she said, eyeing the towering machine nervously.
Raphael Oberhuber, a dealer at KOW, offered a Marxist take on the situation. “It’s a relic of early capitalism,” he said of the pier. “Built cheap.” (The structure was constructed in 1959 as a freight terminal.)
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Brits at London’s Hales Gallery were unfazed by the inclement weather. “It always leaks a little if there’s been snow,” said Paul Hedge, the managing director. “I’ve done worse fairs. I was there for NADA in the early days.”
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