The Armory Show returns in its 24th year with 198 galleries from 31 countries.

66 new exhibitors have been invited with work ranging from miniature paintings to technologically-advanced installations to show at The Armory this March 2018.

711 12th Avenue at 55th Street, New York City. Photo: Teddy Wolff. Image courtesy The Armory Show.

Location of The Armory Show 2018, Piers 92 & 94, 711 12th Avenue at 55th Street, New York City. Photo: Teddy Wolff. Image courtesy The Armory Show.

The Armory Show is New York City’s premier art fair and a leading cultural destination for discovering and collecting the world’s most important 20th- and 21st-century art. Staged on Manhattan’s Piers 92 & 94, The Armory Show features presentations by leading international galleries, innovative artist commissions and dynamic public programmes. Since its founding in 1994 by notable gallerists Colin de Land, Pat Hearn, Matthew Marks and Paul Morris, the fair has served as a platform for both established and budding voices in the visual arts. In its 24 years, the fair has stayed firm to its mission while establishing itself as an unmissable art event set in the heart of New York City and welcoming over 65,000 visitors annually.

The 2018 rendition presents its usual core Galleries section and comes forth with four notable categories – Insights, Presents, Focus and Platform – each exploring themes from technological emancipation and intergenerational perspective, to representations of the physical body and identity politics.

On The Armory Show’s recent development as a hub of cultural and intellectual exchange, Deputy Director Nicole Berry states:

I talked to a lot of artists and collectors and dealers who told me that fairs are so much about the commercial object that you start to see the same things over and over… While we understand that this is a commercial venture, art also has both emotional and intellectual value.

Deputy Director Nicole Berry. Photo: Teddy Wolff. Image courtesy The Armory Show.

Deputy Director Nicole Berry. Photo: Teddy Wolff. Image courtesy The Armory Show.

Insights

The Insights section welcomes a wide array of new exhibitors, including several who have returned after years of absence, namely Gagosian (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Paris, Rome, Athens, Geneva, Hong Kong) and Perrotin (New York, Paris, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo).

Gagosian’s booth will illuminate Korean multimedia artist Nam June Paik as its focal point, the centrepiece of which is his monumental assemblage Lion (2005), comprising a hand-painted guardian lion sculpture framed within a wooden arch and 28 television screens. The televisions display fast-paced montages of flowers, animals and fish, as well as real-time, bizarre footage of dancing lions. The imperial lion, a pervasive symbol of justice, law and spiritual protection in many Asian countries, is here revisited within a Western art-historical context, revealing the breadth of visual traditions at play in Paik’s oeuvre.

Nam June Paik, ‘Lion’, 2005, three-channel video (color, silent) with 2 plasma monitors and 26 CRT monitors and wood lion with acrylic paint and permanent oil marker additions, 337.8 × 276.9 × 165.1 cm. © Nam June Paik Estate.

Nam June Paik, ‘Lion’, 2005, three-channel video (colour, silent) with 2 plasma monitors and 26 CRT monitors and wood lion with acrylic paint and permanent oil marker additions, 337.8 × 276.9 × 165.1 cm. © Nam June Paik Estate.

Of the fair’s new exhibitors, 43 will participate for the first time, such as BANK (Shanghai) and Yamamoto Gendai (Tokyo).

One of Shanghai’s prominent contemporary galleries, BANK attends the fair with American performance artist and film director Patty Chang. A uniquely important artist who emerged from New York’s alternative art scene of the mid-1990s, Chang’s work scrutinises gender, empathy and communication through a series of self-examining videos. From tranquil, yet visceral videos about ritualistic mourning to functioning “urinary devices”, Chang challenges the parameters of performance and its power as a vehicle for storytelling. The artist’s ongoing solo show at the Queens Museum offers viewers a further glimpse into her investigative and performative practice.

Patty Chang, 'Glass Urinary Device', 2016, glass, dimensions variable. Image courtesy BANK.

Patty Chang, ‘Glass Urinary Device’, 2016, glass, dimensions variable. Image courtesy BANK.

Patty Chang, 'Configurations (Bread)', 2016, archival inkjet print, 85 x 128 cm. Image courtesy BANK.

Patty Chang, ‘Configurations (Bread)’, 2016, archival inkjet print, 85 x 128 cm. Image courtesy BANK.

Tokyo’s Yamamoto Gendai gallery attends The Armory Show with painter Kei Imazu in tow. The Japanese artist has gained international acclaim through imaginatively interlacing ideas of the past, present and future through, what the gallery’s catalogue deems, “a comprehensive act of excavating images taken from the vast sea that is the internet”. Her dreamlike, frenzied canvases play with the intermingling of ancient relics and artefacts alongside more contemporary cultural icons, excavating ideas and moments that have been erased by violent histories and exist solely in cyberspaces. Kei adopts the mentality of a time-travelling archaeologist, navigating and deconstructing oversaturated realms of literature, poetry, philosophy and science. She thus offers her viewers ethereal and abstracted representations of time and the ideological spaces humans have occupied within it.

Kei Imazu, 'Pink Room with Deceptive Objects', 2017, oil on canvas. Image courtesy the artist and Yamamoto Gendai.

Kei Imazu, ‘Pink Room with Deceptive Objects’, 2017, oil on canvas. Image courtesy the artist and Yamamoto Gendai.

Presents

Presents is a platform for young galleries no more than ten years old to showcase recent work from emerging artists. Solo-artist and dual-artist presentations spotlight the next generation of artistic talent, which visitors can discover in this in-depth and intimate setting. This year, 26 galleries are showcasing new work through solo and collaborative presentations.

The fair also returns with the second annual Presents Booth Prize, which recognizes an outstanding and innovative gallery presentation. The prize will once more be underwritten by Athena Art Finance, awarding the winning gallery a USD10,000 prize. Now one of the world’s most prestigious and generous commercial fair awards, the 2018 prize will be awarded by a jury of international collectors and curators including Naomi Beckwith, Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Glenn Fuhrman, Collector and Founder of FLAG Art Foundation; and the collectors Marguerite Hoffman and Pamela Joyner.

Presents Booth Prize committee. From left to right: Zora Opalka, Benjamin Genocchio, Mariane Ibrahim and Andrea Danese, CEO of Athena Art Finance Corp. Photo: Teddy Wolff. Image courtesy The Armory Show.

2017 celebration of the Presents Booth Prize. From left to right: artist Zora Opoku with Benjamin Genocchio, Mariane Ibrahim and Andrea Danese, CEO of Athena Art Finance Corp. Photo: Teddy Wolff. Image courtesy The Armory Show.

Focus

The most riveting category in this year’s fair is, perhaps, Focus, curated by Gabriel Ritter, Curator and Head of Contemporary Art at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA). The section features 34 artists and collectives from 18 countries, who examine how technology has both mediated representations of the physical body and imagined its emancipation in contemporary art.

From a variety of intergenerational perspectives – nearly five decades, to be exact – the featured artists broadly question how technology has reimagined the physical body, as “avatar, container, prosthesis, shell, surrogate, telepresence” or otherwise, as well its ongoing ramifications for understanding the evolving human condition. Elaborating on this year’s theme, Ritter states in the press release:

Today we live multiple lives both online and in real life with elastic identities that are seemingly boundless, open to fluid representation and constant reinterpretation via technology. But can the same be said of our physical bodies? Despite technology’s ever-quickening pace, we remain bound in many ways to our material bodies.

Curator Gabriel Ritter. Image courtesy The Armory Show.

Curator Gabriel Ritter. Image courtesy The Armory Show.

In 2017, The Armory Show team successfully launched a new direction for the Focus section, evolving from a geographically-based segment to a more thoughtfully curated presentation that reflects the global nature of the art world itself. More than ever is the curator tasked with developing an intellectually stimulating theme that, in their view, showcases today’s most relevant and compelling artists. Ritter has done just this, while also creating the most geographically diverse edition to date with artists stemming from the Czech Republic, Guatemala, Japan, Pakistan, the Philippines, Iran and South Korea.

Park Hyun-ki represented by Gallery Hyundai manages to stand out from the Focus crowd. A pioneer of Korean minimal video art, Park’s large-scale installations play with technology, found objects and natural materials synonymously. An untitled work on display exhibits a carefully constructed wall of stone blocks, the gleaming screen of a small analogue television appearing to be one of them. Commenting on materialistic tendencies of Western cultures, the artist’s conceptual projects treat technological objects as sculptural in and of themselves, capable of standing alone or as part of a greater conglomeration of objects.

Park Hyun-ki, 'Untitled', 1978. Image courtesy GALLERY HYUNDAI.

Park Hyun-ki, ‘Untitled’, 1978. Image courtesy Gallery Hyundai.

Focus also highlights the work of Iranian multimedia artist Shahpour Pouyan, who is represented at the fair by Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai. From resplendent, machinic installation to a miniature series nodding to her cultural heritage, Pouyan broadly addresses questions of re-imagination: how digital devices might re-form the human body, or a body of work, and how technology could theoretically reanimate history.

Shahpour Pouyan, '
After, Rustam slays his son, Suhrab', 2018
, mixed media on Hahnemühle cotton paper, 
32.4 x 20.8 cm
. Photo: Musthafa Aboobacker. Image 
courtesy the artist and Lawrie Shabibi.

Shahpour Pouyan, ‘
After, Rustam slays his son, Suhrab’, 2018
, mixed media on Hahnemühle cotton paper, 
32.4 x 20.8 cm
. Photo: Musthafa Aboobacker. Image 
courtesy the artist and Lawrie Shabibi.

A rendering of 'The Machine' by Shahpour Pouyan. Image courtesy the artist and Lawrie Shabibi.

A rendering of ‘The Machine’ by Shahpour Pouyan. Image courtesy the artist and Lawrie Shabibi.

Platform

Platform, the fourth segment of the 2018 Armory Show, stages large-scale artworks, installations and commissions across Manhattan’s Piers 92 & 94. Now in its second edition, the section is entitled “The Contingent” and is curated by Jen Mergel, Vice President of Programming for the Association of Art Museum Curators and former Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Featuring 15 site-responsive projects by internationally acclaimed artists, Platform includes South Africa’s Mary Sibande and China’s Wang Xin, each in their United States debut.

Mary Sibande’s sculptural projects reflect on female identity and social development through odd allusions to the symbolism in the writing of Lewis Carroll or Charles Perrault. Confronting the very inkling of a disempowered African female, her work aims to crack the morse code associated with western ideals of beauty and how they may appeal to black women. Playfully rendered yet earnestly poignant, Sibande’s work battles against injustice and ignorance through the medium of art, which is, in itself, a triumph over prejudice.

Mary Sibande, 'Cry Havoc', 2014. Image courtesy Gallery MOMO, Johannesburg & Cape Town.

Mary Sibande, ‘Cry Havoc’, 2014. Image courtesy Gallery MOMO, Johannesburg & Cape Town.

Wang Xin’s installations, moving images and new media turn galleries into locales of otherworldly encounters. Unconsciousness, art world systems and posthumanism are key features in her creation. The impact of her bold, neon slogans provides a satirical reading to her own position and relation to the art world, as well as a critique of the larger artistic ecosystem. The artist is also a trained hypnotist and frequently explores the creative ways to use her mesmerising talents in her practice. Since 2014, Wang has cooperated with Imago Kinetics and founded the 8HZ Hypnosis Lab in Imago Kinetics’ Art Center in Hangzhou. Her brainchild, “The Gallery” project, confronts The Armory Show exhibition space as an “alternative system”.

Wang Xin, 'The Gallery', 2014-ongoing, iron, LCD TV, LED tubes, LED bulbs, LED lettering, projector, mac mini, printer, paper shredder. Image courtesy of de Sarthe.

Wang Xin, ‘The Gallery’, 2014-ongoing, iron, LCD TV, LED tubes, LED bulbs, LED lettering, projector, mac mini, printer, paper shredder. Image courtesy of de Sarthe.

Amory Arts Week

Alongside each display category, The Armory Show boasts an assortment of citywide programming. Armory Arts Week emerges with eight satellite fairs coinciding with New York’s flagship fair, including Art on Paper, Collective Design, Independent, Moving Image Art Fair, NADA, SCOPE, Spring/Break Art Show and Volta NY. Beyond this, the string of events includes Armory Live, a meeting place and lecture series offering thought-provoking conversations and panels hosted.

While maintaining an air of the art fair’s traditional commercial function, The Armory Show 2018 is anything but. A salute to activism, conceptualism and awe-inspiring eccentricity propels the artists, their representing galleries and the fair’s tireless team into a realm beyond the exclusory white cube.

Megan Miller

2090

The Armory Show 2018 runs from 8 to 11 March at Piers 92/94, 711 12th Avenue at 55th Street, New York, NY 10019.

Related topics: Asian artAfrican artMiddle Eastern art, art fairsmarket watchevents in New York

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Brittney

By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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