As you walk into the first floor of the Independent Fair at the X Initiative, you’re greeted by the ubiquitous Bruce High Quality Foundation‘s contribution, an inflatable union rat armed with monotone invectives. “Do I have your attention?” He asks, which is indeed a lot to ask at an art fair. The rat typically signifies a labor strike; its objectives here were unclear. The piece, which obstructed views of Rikrit Tiravanija’s mirrored ping-pong table, was among the least friendly things about the inaugural opening.
Conceived by Elizabeth Dee (of the eponymous gallery, and, over the last year, the events unfolding in the old Dia building on 22nd Street) and Darren Flook from Hotel, London, the Independent is an art fair with none of the administrative-feeling visual barriers of your typical art fair, and a whole lot more enthusiastic energy. Which makes you wonder how much of that administration is sublimated for appearances—nonetheless, the energy doubtlessly derives from the taste level and cool factor of many of the galleries taking part. Galleries’ allotted spaces enthusiastically mixed effusively with artist projects as if there were no differences between them. Bleeding into RODEO Gallery’s space was Farimani, a New York based collaborative artist project and publication that marked the territory of its booth with a tribute to Fred Sandback.LEFT: ANTON KERN AND MASSIMILIANO GIONI. PHOTO BY BRIENNE WALSH.
On the top floor, Jeppe Hein’s over-sized rotating mirrors, exhibited by Berlin based-gallery Johann König in cooperation with New York’s Andrew Kreps, fractures the space around it, reflecting back at viewers not only the peeling paint of the ceiling but also their shifting gaze as they stand before their own image. Stefan Kalmar, the director of Artist Space, was selling a fundraiser edition just feet from Hein’s piece. He’d also moved a Delorean into the space, as an aperitif to the Duncan Campbell film he’s opening on Saturday about the tragic car story. Having dealt so recently with themes of vanitas, he reported that the mirror did not faze him.
In a dark corner, one visitor tried to climb into Eve Sussman’s enticingly open installation, an exploded diorama of a room called Yuri’s Office, only to sternly corrected by a representative of the Winkleman Gallery. Transparency is trendy in even market-based institutions, but artwork itself maintains auratic opacity.
THE INDEPENDENT IS OPEN THROUGH MARCH 7, AND IS LOCATED AT 548 WEST 22ND STREET.