When Adam Gordon had his first solo exhibition at the New York gallery Chapter NY last year, he transformed the space into a dark, grim, claustrophobic environment. The gallery put out a press release saying that Gordon’s “practice focuses on the construction of experience,” and that he “sets an enigmatic tone.” You wouldn’t imagine something so subtle could possibly feel at home in the hectic, ADHD-addled environment of an art fair like Art Basel Miami Beach, but Chapter has managed to make it so, installing (with Gordon, who oversaw the meticulous process) a very creepy-looking room in the fair’s “Positions” section for solo shows.
Unlike the other booths in the section, Chapter has an enclosed space. Within it is a room with stained walls and a flimsy gray particle-board floor. There’s a large, circular stain on that floor; it looks like an oil leak from a car. A sheet of translucent nylon hangs from the ceiling like a window curtain. But you can’t go inside through it; you look through a large glass wall, on which Gordon has placed drops of glycerin, like condensation. And there is another element: a woman wearing a vacant look is drifting around nearby; from time to time she wanders out into the aisles of the fair.
It’s a strange thing, a sobering note amid all the glitz and glamour of Art Basel. I can’t claim to know what it all means, but it made me think—for an art fair, that is experience enough.