Photography at NADA New York 2015

If I am honest, the NADA New York art fair has never really been on my radar as a place for photography. I haven’t heard other photo collectors talking about it, and while it is by definition a haven for new and emerging galleries (which might make it a promising place for more general artistic risk taking), I hadn’t ever wandered the halls to see for myself what was photographically on view. I am happy to report that if my visit this year is any indication of the kind of photography that is typically shown at this fair, I will certainly be back.

But let’s be clear – this fair is out on the edges, at least photographically. Aside from one selection of unearthed Janice Guy nudes from the late 1970s (very good and certainly underappreciated), there was virtually no vintage photography on view. And while works by Mariah Robertson, Hannah Whitaker, and Matthew Porter did make appearances, most of the other contemporary names were meaningfully less well known. This is a venue for exploration, not reaffirmation.

That newness brings with it a sense of fresh perspective – there is an opportunity to see new ideas percolating and common threads being reinterpreted. Rephotography, inkjet printing on unexpected substrates, in-camera masking, photocollage (both analog and digital), and photograms – process ideas we are altogether familiar with at this point – were all being reconsidered through the prism of different (and largely unknown, at least to me) minds. Seeing this work helped me to fill in gaps in the larger contemporary landscape and broadened my view of how these concepts and approaches are being assimilated across the medium.

Gallery-wise, aside from M+B and a handful of Lower East Side galleries already on my watch list, most of the exhibitors who had some form of photography hanging on their booth walls were new additions to the Collector Daily database. I am sure there is some old adage to be trotted out here about repeatedly looking in the same places and finding the same things, but in comparison, NADA’s roomy hallways and skewed booths felt easygoing and open, just the kind of place to find something I wasn’t looking for.

This report is organized as an annotated slideshow; gallery names/links are followed by the artist/photographer name, the price of the work, and some notes and comments as appropriate. The booths are loosely organized by my path through the fair, beginning at the main entrance and working relatively consecutively from Zone 1 to Zone 4.

Proyectos Ultravioleta (here): Elisabeth Wild’s magazine collages show plenty of thoughtful compositional control, with the heavier pink forms tumbling across the page, offset by the striped linear constructions. The works are old school cut and paste but they are full of lively geometric freshness. Priced at $1800.

Anat Ebgi (here): This diptych by Chris Coy looks like a set of window blinds, but up close, the slats reveal themselves to be Photoshop gradients that look surprisingly undulating and three dimensional. The background images are all but obscured, opening up unanswered mysteries. Priced at $6000.

Greene Exhibitions (here): York Chang’s paintings incorporate overlapped sheets of clear plastic printed with black and white photographic imagery, much like a microfiche or a photocopy on transparency. It’s another innovative (analog) way of bringing photography into the realm of painting without resorting to silkscreening or inkjet printing. It’s successfully additive, each image building up over the next. Priced at $7000.

Minerva (here): Marian Tubbs’ work is likely best described as digital collage printed on silk. Image fragments are combined with digital gestures into an integrated composition, with a photographic flame echoed by actual holes in the draped material. It’s loose and experimental, and the decorative computer jargon at the top reminds us of the purposeful mixing of physical and digital going on. Priced at $3500.

Cooper Cole (here): Andrea Pinheiro’s photographs are steeped in the local history of a mining town, here using layered studio rephotography to combine a muted tones of a blueprint of the old mill with various samples of petrified wood. Its tricks of perspective bring out the sculptural qualities of the rocks. Priced at $4000.

The Apartment (here): Janice Guy’s smart self portraits from the 1970s deserve to be rediscovered. Many (like this one) use the camera as a visual interrupter, frustrating our ability to see the artist, while others are even more obscure and shadowy, covered in ephemeral overpainting. Priced at $18000.

Talcual Gallery (here): Luis Úrculo’s works seem to follow in the footsteps of Sultan/Mandel’s Evidence, albeit with a more architectural bent. Unidentified studio materials are exactingly numbered like a crime scene, and a nearby list of archeological sites might imply some kind of connection, but the conclusions are left satisfyingly open ended. Priced at $6000.

Invisible-Exports (here): This new work by Matthew Porter continues his explorations of layered color compositions, where photogram elements of indeterminate size (flowers, screws, leaves) are interwoven with various images (silhouetted overhead greenery, a pinned up sheet of paper). The effect is perplexingly multi-dimensional and pleasingly abstract. Priced at $7000.

Essex Flowers (here): Tatiana Kronberg’s large scale photograms are resolutely physical. Body parts (seemingly both human and mannequin) are gesturally swirled with wisps of hair, wires (from a sex toy?), and other dance-like movements, with rough folds slashing across the paper. Unlike many precious photograms, her works are big, bold, and tactile. Priced at $4500.

Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran (here): Jacynthe Carrier’s photographs document a performative reinterpretation of a dull vacant lot, where blindfolded participants work through repeated movements amid a gathering of table lamps. They reclaim the dead zone with puzzling action, reimagining it with new purpose. Priced at $2500.

Daata Editions (here): While Jon Rafman’s undulating sea of overpopulated ocean is intriguing on its own, the larger attempt by Daata Editions to find a new model for distributing digital video artworks is the real highlight here. Partnering directly with artists, the company has built a platform for bringing digital video to collectors – it’s an approach that could work equally well with digital-only photography or digital photobooks. The Rafman video is actually free (in a limited edition), with signing up.

M+B (here): This new work by Mariah Robertson is all chemical improvisation, with colored drips expressively flying in seemingly competing directions (the work must have been draped over something while she was working on it). It’s brash, energetic, and fluidly vital. Priced at $28000.

M+B (here): This series of images by Hannah Whitaker is a methodical progression of in-camera masking, where the black negative space is subsequently filled by positive imagery, and ultimately mixed into a little of both. The striped fragments twist and turn like a kaleidoscope. Priced at $3200 each.

Louis B. James (here): Fay Ray’s energetic black and white collage is full of competing textures and shapes. Cinder blocks and chains give way to fields of dots and round rocks, with a twisting swoop of ribboned hair as a centerpiece. Priced at $6500.

Entrée (here): Azar Alsharif’s diamond shaped collage brings together desert imagery, tiny image fragments and at least one imitation black pearl. The triangle shards swarm like bees, breaking up and reforming amid the desert palette. Priced at $1500.

Regina Rex (here): Cory Escoto’s Polaroid constructions look digital, but they are in fact masked multiple exposures. By painstakingly combining different imagery into new seemingly sculptural forms, his textures and patterns conflict, upending our notions of spatial depth. Priced at $2000.

Clages Gallery (here): Anne Pöhlmann’s images of up close fabrics aren’t digital, although their arrays of dotted textures look like pixels. Her banners are flat, yet appear lovingly wrinkled, and fabric, instead of paper, constantly pushing on our expectations. Priced at $2800.

Microscope Gallery (here): Katherine Bauer’s color photograms erupt in a sea of intense magenta, with spirograph patterns and pinwheels laid down in layers. The feel both scientific and playful. Priced at $3000.

Daniel Faria Gallery (here): This work by Shannon Bool is a photogram constructed via taped together transparencies and negatives. The dense fabric patterns turn the human form into a quilt of dense flat shapes that jostle and push. Priced at $6500.

Division Gallery (here): This image by Paul Butler starts with Artforum ads which are then cut into physical collages and rephotographed. The results are sleek and streamlined, an art form in an of themselves. Priced at $7500.

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Read more about: Andrea Pinheiro, Anne Pöhlmann, Azar Alsharif, Chris Coy, Cory Escoto, Elisabeth Wild, Fay Ray, Hannah Whitaker, Jacynthe Carrier, Janice Guy, Jon Rafman, Katherine Bauer, Luis Úrculo, Mariah Robertson, Marian Tubbs, Matthew Porter, Paul Butler, Shannon Bool, Tatiana Kronberg, York Chang, Anat Ebgi, Clages Gallery, Cooper Cole, Daata Editions, Daniel Faria Gallery, Division Gallery, Entrée, Essex Flowers, Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran, Greene Exhibitions, Invisible-Exports, Louis B. James Gallery, M+B Gallery, Microscope Gallery~1329 Willoughby, Minerva, Proyectos Ultravioleta, Regina Rex, Talcual Gallery, The Apartment, NADA New York

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