The Armory Show 2013: Centennial Edition

While the Armory 2013 was decidedly more condensed than it has been in the past years, it’s smaller size made it much more palatable. The sometimes exhausting parade of booth after booth with seemingly endless and sometimes questionable objets d’arts, was pleasantly easy to digest and remember. That being said, over 200 selected galleries were present with works from approximately 1,000 artists.

The usual suspects, yet relevant, big guns were there under the wing of the Victoria Miro Gallery. Jules de Balincourt, Sarah Sze, Chris Ofili, Yayoi Kusama and of course Tal R. This sampling is just an example of the great contributors of art and culture that were showcased at the art fair.

El Anatsui ‘s Wet at Jack Shainman gives us timeless elegance, turning banal used cans and copper wire into objects that hang with cloth-like gracefulness. Also present is Nick Cave. His Soundsuit is a techno-color multi-headed-figure made from various materials dressed in crocheted wooly goodness, with tops and various children’s toys emanating from the heads of this monster. This “thing” is a hallucination I wish I had regularly; otherworldly and totally loveable.

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The ever-present photograph has inundated all aspect of modern life, thank you very much Instagram. Some have argued that photography’s easy accessibility has diluted its art like appeal. Zanele Muholi at Yancey Richardson Gallery challenges this with her simple yet effective black and white portraits of her fellow South African natives. These powerful images show us just how far spanning globalism has become. We are all a mix of cultures and far reaching influences, which she effortlessly demonstrates with her subjects features, style, and poise.

Anele 'Anza' Khaba, KwaThema Community Hall, Springs, Johannesburg

Anele ‘Anza’ Khaba, KwaThema Community Hall, Springs, Johannesburg

Richard Heller Gallery showcased David Jien and Devin Troy Strother who are completely different artists but ultimately share the distinct ability to engage with just a mere glance. Capturing the gaze’s willingness to peel back the layers of meaning, introspect, and reveal an intention.

Boston based Samson Projects had a booth dedicated to Todd Pavlisko, perhaps rightly so. A hodge-podge of oversized bongs, objects and images. They are wild, seemingly irrelevant, but luring. The likeness of Richard Pryor turns out to be masterful graphite drawings with pieces of metal chain and jewels falling out of noses, or being snorted up them. Upon careful examination, decorative script proclaims “That nigger’s crazy”. Brave but possibly manipulative coming from a white man, as the shock value of that statement in America is inherent. Bold, bright, multicolored acrylic lines frame what look like portraits but are in fact baseball cards. None of it matches, yet it all coordinates. Drawings leaned on old exercise furniture turned into sculptures, it’s such a vast array of disjunctive pretty.

Interactive art is always a crowd pleaser and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Flatsun, 2011 featured a custom-made LED screen, computerized surveillance tracking system with fluid dynamic algorithms that reacts to the presence of the public by varying the speed and the type of animation displayed. The $150,000 circular display simulates the turbulence at the surface of the Sun using mathematical-equations like navier-stoke, reaction-difussion and perlin noise. If no one is in front of the piece the turbulence slows down and eventually turns off. As the built-in camera detects people more solar flares are generated and the fake Sun shows more perturbation and activity.  The display’s reaction is purposefully ambiguous but captivating nonetheless.

Flatsun, 2011

Flatsun, 2011

For it’s centennial edition, The Armory Show 2013’s highlights include:

Armory Focus USA – a section of the fair emphasizing the artistic achievements of a specific geographical region. This year it features the USA. Eric Shiner, Director of The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, curated Armory Focus: USA – presenting a broad snapshot of the country’s contemporary cultural practice.

And a commissioned solo presentation by Liz Magic Lazer.

With gestures veering from comedic to politically provocative, the performance artist has become known worldwide for her videos and performative works in public spaces. She stages situations, dialogues, and monologues in the urban environment, and its population becomes both her audience and extras. Her recent work appropriates the dominant performance techniques and psychological strategies used by the media and politician to sway public opinion.


Thursday, March 7 – Sunday, March 10 from 12-7pm


General Admission US $30
Student US $15
Seniors US $15

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Piers 92 & 94, Twelfth Avenue at 55th Street
New York, NY