Frieze New York 2016

Wolf Spiders, Bondage Polaroids, and Crapstraction: Opening Day at NADA New York

nada 2016

Jacques Louis Vidal’s sculpture at 247365’s NADA booth.

MAXIMILÍANO DURÓN/ARTNEWS

In addition to the work-hungry collectors crawling through NADA New York during its opening Wednesday afternoon, there was another, slightly more venomous crew crawling around: hairy, six-legged wolf spiders. Or so claimed the artists Brad Troemel and Joshua Citarella, who announced that they had ordered “a bulk quantity of wolf spiders via an online biological supply company,” and for every dollar donated to the NADA Spiders for Change Fund, they would release six wolf spiders—which are poisonous, but not lethal, don’t worry!—into the wilds of the art fair. For each time someone can manage to document one and send the artists the photo, they will donate $100 to cancer research.

And while we didn’t spot any arachnids at Basketball City, and Troemel didn’t respond to phone calls, we did see a few wonderful gallery booths, many of which were selling their modestly priced works at a brisk pace. Jack Hanley had sold most of the works in his booth by an hour into the fair. He had sold two small sculptures by Elizabeth Jaeger for $3,000 each, plus a few works by the infamous, mysterious artist known as Alphachanneling.

“No one knows if it’s a man or a woman, but it’s this Instagram sensation,” Hanley said while showing off the works, which are mostly erotic nude drawings that make good use of the lotus flower. Indeed: Alphachanneling has over 200,000 followers on Instagram. The works were on sale for $1,000 to $1,600, with one bigger work up for $2,500.

Two works by Alphachanneling on offer at Jack Hanley Gallery, New York. MAXIMILÍANO DURÓN/ARTNEWS

Two works by Alphachanneling on offer at Jack Hanley Gallery, New York.

MAXIMILÍANO DURÓN/ARTNEWS

Walk past the stand of basketballs designed by Tyson Reeder and you’ll see two big, intricate installations at the booth for 247365: A three-part, twisty, multicolored Jacques Louis Vidal sculpture, with each of the three parts on sale for $5,000, and intricate Benjamin Reiss sculptures, with tubes and flower pot parts and glass assembled within the system. The larger work is on sale for $14,000. Beyond that, Feuer/Mesler had on view a work by Ara Dymond that had a strange black object mounted upon a glass case.

“It’s a hoodie sweatshirt that’s dipped in resin,” said dealer Joel Mesler (who has also written a column for ARTnews). It was minutes into the fair, and a collector on the phone was already putting it on reserve.

In a weird twist, Mesler also has work for sale at the fair, at the booth of Cultural Counsel, which happens to be the P.R. firm handling press for NADA. Publicists showing the work of a dealer at a booth—what a time to be alive. Mesler’s art practice takes on the office moniker of the Estate of Joel Mesler, and the work on display is mostly small drawings with bizarre little notes that send up this whole scene: “I got a job at Phillips now I’m a frog,” etc. The drawings—if there are any left—are $200, and the bigger paintings—one of which was bought by the artist Jonas Wood—are $4,000.

And for those trying to escape from the reality of Frieze Week, Bed-Stuy’s American Medium brought an Oculus Rift rig as part of a series by Brenna Murphy that explore her grid work: There are physical grid sculptures, 3-D printed grids, and the VR work, which places the user in a glowing grid world. The headset is attached to a console complete with a toggle, and a gridded print above it resting at a 30 degree angle, giving it an arcade-style look.

“She was trying to set it up like a retro video game,” said American Medium director Josh Pavlacky.

It’s still available at $10,000, and feel free to try it out at the fair—though be careful, because when you’re wearing the VR headset, you can’t see the wolf spiders running by you.

An Orion Martin work on offer at New York's Bodega. MAXIMILÍANO DURÓN/ARTNEWS

An Orion Martin work on offer at New York’s Bodega.

MAXIMILÍANO DURÓN/ARTNEWS

NADA had plenty of crapstraction as well—easy-to-digest painting is always an art fair mainstay—so one booth in particular stood out: Invisible-Exports, which turned over most of its booth to a photography group show. Most of the works on view were Polaroids—there were small snapshots of back-ends in bondage leather, courtesy of Breyer P-Orridge, and there were also still-lifes and psychedelic portraits. In addition to what was on the wall, an album of Polaroids lay on a small table. But the photographs that stuck out the most were Brigid Berlin’s images of Andy Warhol, who could be seen wearing white headphones in one, and staring off into the distance in another. Christopher Y. Lew, one of the curators of the 2017 Whitney Biennial, could be seen admiring them at one point.

Tomorrow Gallery’s booth featured a handsome group of semi-figurative paintings. A painting by spider-man Brad Troemel had what appeared to be teddy bears and flowers pressed under its uneven white surface—pink and blue squiggles were painted on top of it. But once inside the booth, paintings by Louisa Gagliardi and Sojourner Truth Parsons introduced a more obvious sense of figuration, with green androgynous characters in the former and a woman flanked by dogs in the latter. Nearby, three small paintings by Sebastian Burger were the subject of conversation between a gallery representative and two prospective buyers. Were there any larger ones? There could be, at a future Burger show. “Send me PDFs of the show,” one of the would-have-been buyers said, “if there’s something bigger.”

Those buyers probably would’ve been happier at Bodega’s booth, where two human-scale Orion Martin paintings were on view. Martin’s work appeared earlier this year in the Whitney’s talked-about show “Flatlands,” which surveyed young artists who make figurative painting. Like those in “Flatlands,” Martin’s paintings at Bodega featured flamingos that become unicycles and flowers that inexplicably weave through architectural elements. Was there a lot of interest in the Martin works? “Oh, yeah,” a gallery representative said, vigorously shaking her head. “I never get tired of looking at them.” Several other curious buyers inquired about the paintings a few minutes later.

View of the booth of Kunstraum, Brooklyn, a pop-up "Video Shop. MAXIMILÍANO DURÓN/ARTNEWS

View of the booth of Kunstraum, Brooklyn, a pop-up “Video Shop.

MAXIMILÍANO DURÓN/ARTNEWS

Kunstraum’s booth at NADA took a nostalgic turn. The one-year-old, artist-run Brooklyn space had erected a pop-up called Video Shop, where 16 video-based artists such as Jon Kessler, Peter Bode, Shelly Silver, and Alex McQuilken were selling some of their better-known artworks at editions of 50 DVDs each. Helpfully, Video Shop also offered equally antiquated portable DVDs for sale. Each DVD is priced at $75, though splashy neon-yellow signs advertised deals: “Full Collection-$1,000” and “6 DVDs for $5.”

“They’re at 50% resolution, so that’s the bootleg aspect,” a gallery representative said. “But they’re all authorized and signed by the different artists that produced these. These are all DVDs that have existed in some form already, but you can’t get them anywhere else currently. Jon Kessler has given us eight years’ worth of videos from his collection, which is a really great bargain for $75, I think.” She laughed. “I’ll definitely be buying all of his.”

Artist, activist, and recent college graduate Emma Sulkowicz, who also had a work selling at the booth, suddenly appeared, greeting gallery workers. Her hair was bright pink, and she was wearing glasses. When she had left, the representative said, “Emma’s piece is the floor runner to her endurance performance Carry That Weight. The video is of her taking the mattress and carrying it outside, but the audio is from her conversation with the police. It’s really intense to listen to; I get chills every time I talk about it actually. But it’s so important that this kind of thing is known, because it’s still a thing that women deal with. It’s ridiculous. There’s one part of the conversation where the police are like, ‘Oh, you were on a date with the guy?’ And she’s like, ‘Well, I didn’t authorize any of this…’ ” She laughed uncomfortably.

The shop is also carrying the world premiere of a 1991 video work by Peter Bode, titled Man Punches Pixels. “He just had it in a dusty drawer somewhere,” the rep explained. “It’s really funny—it’s just this guy in space punching the air.”

Had anyone bought a piece yet? “We’ve had a lot of interest,” she assured me. “But no sales yet. I mean, we only opened an hour ago.”

Copyright 2016, Art Media ARTNEWS, llc. 110 Greene Street, 2nd Fl., New York, N.Y. 10012. All rights reserved.


  • Issues