Photography in the 2014 Frieze New York Art Fair, Part 1 of 3

“You’re parasitic. And I don’t mean that negatively.”

As this snatched burst of conversational genius drifted out of the bustling crowd at this year’s incarnation of the Frieze New York Art Fair, the words seemed to neatly sum up what art fairs have become to the art world – a symbiotic species that draws its sustenance from the host.

As I wandered through the warren of airy booths in the gigantic tent on Randall’s Island once again last week, it became hard not to wonder about the drain on collective resources these increasingly elaborate events have become, however convenient and collegial they are for busy collectors. As a community, we need to examine how these fairs can stay fresh and enrich the dialogue around art, as bland seen-it-before sameness (even when punctuated by moments of artistic thrill) is evolving into a real threat.

As usual, this particular fair blends its photography into the larger whole of contemporary art, with no photography specialist galleries on hand and single images mixed in throughout the many booths; this creates a sense of the chase for those of us with photography on the brain, as it takes some effort to sift the photographs out of the rest of the work on view. Photography-wise, it’s a schizophrenic amalgamation, with an alternating array of new contemporary work from famous names and unexpected discoveries (old and new) from lesser known artists.

This report is divided into three sections of image highlights, shown in annotated slideshows. I have generally avoided works that have recently been on view in New York gallery shows or that we have already reviewed in another context, instead opting for fresh images new to the market or surprising finds (your mileage may vary depending on which shows you’ve already seen and what artistic ruts you travel in). 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 organized by my path through the fair, beginning at the South entrance.

Espaivisor (here): The jarring juxtaposition of coolly glamorous fashion models in sunglasses annotated with haunting first hand accounts of women being beaten, living in shelters, and handling risky pregnancies – it’s a darkly harsh takedown of slick commercial roles. Sanja Iveković, priced at $50000 each.

Mor Charpentier Galerie (here): Intimate floral diptychs of stubborn specimens found among the rubble, pairing hand colored blooms with destroyed negatives, mirroring the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Uriel Orlow, priced at €2600.

Société (here): New works by Josh Kolbo, with muscular billows of back to back mounted leather textured imagery in tall stainless steel racks. Priced at $12000 each.

Lisa Cooley (here): Imagery stretched and chopped into strips, then digitally reassembled and printed on luxurious draped silk, and ultimately falling out of the frame as a physical rock on the floor, with tiny images of breath mints decorating the upper corner. It’s a complicated exercise in expanding the vocabulary of flatness and depth. Alice Channer, priced at $28000.

303 Gallery (here): More surface intervention in this new work from Elad Lassry, with sculptural nests of wires and balls tumbling out from the plane of the photograph like an old solar system mobile. Priced at $18000.

303 Gallery (here): Rodney Graham as a self-satisfied pipe cleaner artist, making cascades of crafty geometric forms. Graham is at his best in works like this one, where his wry humor comes through to subtly undermine the earnestness of his characters. Priced at $450000.

Lisson Gallery (here): Polish weight lifters struggle with the burden of history, in the form of the bronze and stone bulk of Ronald Reagan. Christian Jankowski, priced at €18000.

Wallspace (here): A new work from Shannon Ebner, continuing her exploration of language and symbols, turning a programmable roadside message display into a disorienting sea of special characters. Priced at $15000.

Untitled (here): Layers of reinterpretation: looking at an embroidered image of an image of looking at an image. Brendan Fowler, priced at $18000.

Raster Gallery (here): Unsettling negative portraits of the artist in black make-up, turning her face and body an eerie reversed white. Aneta Grzeszykowska, priced at €5000 for sets of 3.

White Cube (here): Andreas Gursky digitally reimagining the Lehmbruck museum, adding a Duane Hanson, a Jeff Koons, a pool of blood, and other adornments to the existing collection. If the digital additions were more convincing, they might be less underwhelming. Priced at €400000.

GB Agency (here): A photograph of various collaged elements, with laser cut rectangles removed and piled on the floor. Clever selective removal as a method for adding visual interest and subtracting connective information. Ryan Gander, priced at £12000.

Andrew Kreps Gallery (here): An elegant earlier work by Annette Kelm, with four versions of a housefly perched on a turquoise circle. Priced at $18000 for the set of 4.

Galerie Martin Janda (here): Exploring contrasting female roles and cultural identities, via staged portraiture in an Istanbul home. Nilbar Güreş, priced at €13700.

Tina Kim Gallery (here): The propelling tilt/motion of a speeding scooter. Yeondoo Jung, priced at $17000.

Continue here for Part 2 of this report.

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Read more about: Alice Channer, Andreas Gursky, Aneta Grzeszykowska, Annette Kelm, Brendan Fowler, Christian Jankowski, Elad Lassry, Josh Kolbo, Nilbar Güreş, Rodney Graham, Ryan Gander, Sanja Iveković, Shannon Ebner, Uriel Orlow, Yeondoo Jung, 303 Gallery, Andrew Kreps Gallery, Espaivisor, Galerie Martin Janda, GB Agency, Lisa Cooley, Lisson Gallery, Mor Charpentier Galerie, Raster Gallery, Société, Tina Kim Gallery, Untitled, Wallspace, White Cube, Frieze New York Art Fair

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