Do the fairs get shinier every year? As more and more people crowd the aisles of the Armory Show, they are being endlessly multiplied in the gleaming surfaces of sundry sculptures and wall-mounted works. Selfies and reflections abound.
A giant PVD-coated stainless steel sculpture dominates Galerie Thaddeus Ropac’s booth, warping passersby into funhouse versions of themselves. Xenia Geroulanos, a director there, flipped through photos on her iPad of similar sculptures installed on grassy green lawns and in austere exhibition spaces, but the €200 ($219) piece works well at an art fair, where it captures the crowds taking photos as they capture it on their phones.
Nearby, at the Houston-based Sicardi Gallery, an intricately engraved surveillance mirror catches people as they drift in and out of the booth. The artist, Marco Maggi, who is representing Uruguay in the Venice Biennale this year, carved the glass with complex patterns reminiscent of circuit boards and city plans, by hand with an X-Acto knife. “The thought is to draw the viewer in,” said a gallery associate of the $36,000 work. “You have to get close to appreciate it.” As he spoke, a couple appreciated themselves and snapped a photo of their reflections.
Selfie fever was raging over at the booth belonging to Berlin-based Johann König gallery. A wall-mounted work, You Are Special (2014) by Jeppe Hein, consists of those words, in neon, embedded behind a super-reflective two-way mirror. The artist makes works with “very positive claims,” said director Gregory Hose, who said Hein makes these without a trace of sarcasm.
“People approach it and think about where they’ll put it in their home,” he said, noting that living rooms and entry halls were popular spots. “You Are Perfect As You Are. That one was popular. You have to decide, do you want to slap your guests in the face, or do you want to lift them up?” If fairgoers were uplifted, the work was certainly uploaded. The piece appeared on Artsy’s roster of “Most Instagrammable” work at the fair. Early this morning, the website hosted “a private meetup event for Instagrammers from the art world and beyond, with the theme #ArtWorldSpaces” inside the VIP lounge.