“Anytime you move a fair to a new venue it’s hard not to have some kind of identity shift,” Heather Hubbs, the fair’s executive director, told me as collectors moseyed on into the fairgrounds, taking in the shock of seeing the standard NADA lineup in an unfamiliar space. “And also everyone who comes to it, and all the exhibitors that are participating, they’re all going to approach it differently because it’s a different layout, the booths are different—the feel is different. I don’t know if we know what that shift will be until we get to the end of it, though.”
NADA is up through Sunday, but in the opening few hours, that shift might have started to peek through. Armed with its impressive new space, NADA has doubled down on the anti-fair aspects that keeps it unique.
“Doesn’t it all seem a little weirder this year?” Signal’s Alexander Johns told me when I ran into him near his booth.
Weirder, yes, but a good, big weird. Several advisors told me that the gallerists saw the boosted setting—the fancy lighting, the sweeping views, the blockbuster locale—and responded in kind.
At Moran Bondaroff, artist Jacolby Satterwhite was on hand to show guests through an ambitious presentation of four of his works, including a VR rig, a video that turns footage of Satterwhite dancing into a purple-hued computer animated theme park ride through a marvelous wonderland, and wallpaper that consists of scenes from those videos populating a flat, non-moving Boschian landscape.
“I figured out how to print it as long as you would need it,” Satterwhite told me.
We walked up to the wallpaper. He pointed to a detail of two bodies copulating on top of what looked like a floating trash compactor in a post-apocalyptic space city.
“There’s so much here, sometimes I forget some of the details,” he added.
Other booths were just as impressive, notably a video installation by the Russian collective AES+F as part of a multimedia booth, jointly displayed by Transfer (of Bushwick, Brooklyn) and Mobius Gallery (Bucharest, Romania.) Crowds were squeezing into the booth to watch Inverso Mundus, 2015–17, which prominently displays a crew of construction workers showering themselves in mud. There were five editions of the single-channel video, and three had sold, for $100,000 apiece.
Signal hadn’t yet found a taker for a very intriguing Hayden Dunham installation, Flex (2016), which was made of some fairly foreign-looking materials, such as tourmaline and something called “cell food.” The price tag is $8,500. But next door, at the Brussels-based Super Dakota, big computer-printed works of scrambled unrecognizable images by Chris Dorland were selling, early and often, for $12,000 a pop.
When asked how he makes the work, Dorland explained that he uses “an old shitty-ass machine that messes up the images, like a broken a scanner.”
He pointed at something in one of them—the actual image was unknowable.
“That was a Victoria’s Secret model,” he said.
Dorland is also a director at Lower East Side gallery Magenta Plains, and the dealer-artist overlap that’s always been present at NADA doesn’t seem to have gone out with the updated digs. At one point, a collector came up to artist Jesse Greenberg, who was currently in selling-art mode in his capacity as co-founder of 247365, and said to him, “I know you! You’re in our house!”
The collector jabbed the man with her.
“Honey, we own his work,” she said “He’s in our house!”
Greenberg smiled, and then tried to sell them a Brian Bellot.