Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Volta Video from my phone!

One of the neat things about Volta is that galleries are allowed only one artist per installation. This makes it feel more like an exhibition and less like a trade show. From the viewer's perspective it certainly eases the fatigue of art-fair visual overload, and hopefully it presents the taste level of the gallery in a more accurate light which ultimately attracts longterm collector interest---right? This may have been the reasoning behind the galleries that chose to display, er, shall we say non-commodity oriented work.

There was a cool 'contraption' aesthetic to a lot of the work--and a lot of really great video installation pieces. Here is a look at some of them. I shot the video with my cell-phone which accounts for the appalling production values.

Ian Burns @ Spencer Brownstone

Ian Burns creates inventive, self-contained cinematic scene-generators made from kitchen-sink contraptions comprised of ironing boards, folding chairs, dirty plastic cups, electric fans, spy cameras and other off-the-shelf consumer junk. The sculptures are hilariously unwieldly mechanical assemblies that are notable in their use of plastic bags as a visual stand-in for arctic landscapes. Can you see the model plane 'flying' through the clouds?

Peter Sarkisian @ I-20

'Extruded Video Engine' is a rear-projection piece ingeniously mounted and seamlessly presented; it consists of hundreds of clips composited together to intelligently conform to the contours of a 3D vacuum-formed sculpture. It had a retro, slightly carnival-esque Dada feeling, like peering into the workings of a 50s sci-fi mechanism or behind the curtain of the Mighty Oz; the pistons, gears, and whirlygigs are obsolete gadgets that were allegedly filmed at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Another crowd-pleaser here.

Pietro Sanguineti @ Nusser&Baumgart

These videos really caught my eye. Sanguineti incorporates the style of broadcast graphics to create time-based explorations of single word imperatives (which he also creates as text-based sculptures, see side); in the central, newest piece, he cuts snippets of computer-generated footage from video-games, commercials, and other sources to comment on the complex representations of 'nature' in our heavily mediated visual culture.

One more...

David Ellis @ Roebling Hall

Brooklyn action-graffiti painter David Ellis does a 180 from the Barnstormers work we know and love and presents these fascinating junkyard honky-tonk percussion sculptures. Tom Waits should be howling over them, I think. I didn't get a good shot of the clanging mound that the large bird is flapping in front of, but it's actually a giant craft-fair owl formed from beer bottles and metal mesh. The video loop is a teaser of an upcoming film of slow-motion paint spilling, I thought it was a long form computer rendering of fluid dynamics. Speaking of which, David is doing a week-long live painting performance at the Theory flagship store in the Meatpacking District, check it out til April 3rd.

Art Fair Roundup 2: Volta!

Here are some highlights from the Volta fair, which everyone--quite justifiably--told me to attend after the somewhat dull viewings at Scope (don't get me wrong, there was a lot of really nice work on view, it just didn't feel like--well, like art was happening).

Above, Jacin Giordano's fabulous toilet seat cover column and glitter painting at Baumet Sultana.

Above, these sculptures from Kevin Francis Gray (at Goff & Rosenthal) were real crowd pleasers. A combination of cast resin, bronze and automotive paint that filtered a smart classicism through a contemporary filter, or is that the other way around..? Sex, death, glamor, drapery, and the artist himself, a big, bearded, beaming Irishman...
It made me think. No one in New York is making work like this, except Koons, but he's on his own trip--but it may have more to do with access to the resources necessary to make this kind of work. This kind of work is expensive, time-consuming, and craft-conscious, not exactly three things in the toolbelts of most NY artists, but is that an aesthetic choice or are the means of production limited by the difficult realities of living here? The junk/assemblage aesthetic certainly seems to rule the scene here. I'd be interested in your opinion on this.

Art Fair Roundup!

Assume Vivid Astro Focus at the Armory! Yay!!
This is about all I paused to enjoy at the Armory show, after sneaking in--kind of--thanks to the good grace of my friend from VideoArtWorld who was in town to host a series of really interesting panels and screenings at Whitebox for DiVA (the Digital Video Art Fair, now revamped as a series of individual installations in several shipping containers scattered around Chelsea--MUCH preferable to a cramped hotel presentation, though probably not for the poor gallery attendants who had to sit in the containers all day in the cold & rain!).