This week, despite escalating fears of the wide-spread transmission of Covid-19, The Armory Show in New York will go ahead. The fair, founded in 1994 by four New York Gallerists, released this statement: “At a time of great global concern and uncertainty, the Armory Show is closely monitoring the evolving situation with the coronavirus. Our hearts go out to those directly affected. As the safety of our exhibitors and guests remains a top priority, we will continue to consult with experts in the field and pursue best practices in safeguarding The Armory Show 2020 edition.”
The Armory Show is one of New York’s leading art fairs, offering visitors the chance to view and purchase some of the world’s most important 20th and 21st Century art. As well as the main roster of galleries, The Armory Show includes the Perspectives, Focus, Presents, Platform and Not-For-Profit spaces, all culminating in a truly diverse and impressive fair. Here are four artists worth seeing at pier 90 this weekend.
Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg – Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
The duo of Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg are renowned for their video ‘claymation’ works, Djurburg is the clay artist while Berg is the composer. Their work explores themes of lust, greed, regression and personal evolution. At this year’s Armory Show Tanya Bonakdar will be showing Djurberg and Berg’s stop-motion animation This is Heaven, 2019. In this film a hairy goblin-like man wakes up in an ethereal landscape and starts hoarding the riches around him, all the while his sense of entitlement ensures he’s oblivious to the death and destruction that lies in his wake. While not exactly subtle or esoteric, the piece is lent charm by the duo’s sharp sense of humour and off-beat aesthetic.
This is Heaven, 2019, Stop motion animation
Rina Banerjee – Galerie Nathalie Obadia
This year The Armory Show is partnering with the Paris non-profit Archive of Women Artists: Research and Exhibitions (AWARE) on a new juried award. The AWARE prize will recognise the strongest solo booth by a female artist, awarding $10,000 to the artist or her estate. Rina Banerjee is one such female artist in the running for the prize, her vibrant large-scale sculptures directly respond to her birthplace of Calcutta and contemplate notions of identity, tradition and culture against the backdrop of diasporic communities. Banerjee uses materials ranging from African tribal jewellery to colourful feathers, light bulbs and murano glass; these sensory assemblages thrive on tensions between visual cultures, raising questions about exoticism, cultural appropriation, globalisation, and feminism along the way.
The world as burnt fruit—When empires feuded for populations and plantations, buried in colonial and ancient currency a Gharial appeared from an inky melon—hot with blossom sprang forth to swallow the world not yet whole as burnt fruit, 2009. Fans, feather, cowrie shells, resin alligator, skull, globe, glass vials, light bulbs, gourds, steel wire and Japanese mosquito nets
Devin B. Johnson – Nicodim Gallery
Devin B. Johnson’s rhythmic paintings flit between figuration and expressive abstraction. He sprays plaster onto the foundation of the work, forming a basis from which he can build into with gestural layers. The plaster pulses beneath layers of spray paint, stains, stamps, drips, acrylic, oil, and oil sticks. Johnson paints from improvised, freestyle digital collages sourced from personal and historical imagery arranged into fictional, sentimental situations. He creates rather surreal narratives concerning personal memory and collective consciousness.
Melody of a Memory, 2020, mixed media
Moshekwa Langa – Andrew Kreps Gallery
Moshekwa Langa’s multidisciplinary practice defies any kind of concrete categorisation, this is in part due to his peripatetic existence: moving between European cities after arriving from his birthplace in Limpopo, South Africa. The work itself is almost hallucinatory, full of both life and colour, blurred edges and bright spots induce a dreamlike sensation. In the late 1990s and early 2000s Langa enjoyed a significant degree of institutional support in the US and Europe, after some time away from the spotlight Andrew Kreps is now showing his work at The Armory Show.
Mokwena Meets Mujaji, 2013, Tape, thread and collaged elements on paper