The Armory Show 2012 hosts 228 international exhibitors, “showing work that realizes the fair’s mission of innovation and discovery.” Split between Piers 92 and 94 on the west side of Midtown Manhattan, the show runs March 8–11, with several new programming initiatives and a re-designed floor plan added to the show’s fourteenth edition. Pier 94 is the larger exhibition hall, the Contemporary section featuring mainstay galleries Lisson Gallery, Sean Kelly, Victoria Miro, Kukje Gallery/Tina Kim Gallery, David Zwirner, Sprüth Magers, Gallery Hyundai, and Kaikai Kiki, among many others—including 19 invited Nordic galleries in the ‘Armory Focus’—while the Modern sector on Pier 92 is home to Marlborough Gallery, O’Hara Gallery, Inc., Pace Prints, Peter Findlay, and many more.
Within the first thirty minutes of the fair, David Zwirner’s solo booth by Michael Riedel—whom Art Observed interviewed (forthcoming)—entirely sold out. Riedel’s large poster-like works were made specially for the Armory Show, each poster based on other projects the artist has been working on. Victoria Miro had sold most of their Yayoi Kusama works within the first hour, prices ranging from $300,000–$600,000; they said Kusama’s current show at the Tate seemed to help sales. Max Levai at Marlborough Gallery approved of the fair’s new layout, saying that it provided a better experience and atmosphere for viewing art, and, as such, there was a lot of energy at the fair and a steady flow of visitors. A rep at Blain|Southern also commented on the positive energy, having sold Tim Noble and Sue Webster’s Fucking Beautiful neon sculpture within the very first minute the fair opened.
At the morning’s press conference, Armory Show founding director Paul Morris discussed the new, more engaging and experiential layout of the booths, designed by New York-based architecture firm Bade Stageberg Cox. As a certain monotony of globalization ever encroaches, Morris et al. sought to make the fair “very New York.” Drawing on the fact that so many apartments in the city are furnished by furniture found on the curb, the “Street Seats” installation project recovered chairs likewise from the curb, repairing and painting them taxi-cab yellow, and placing them throughout the fair. Stamped on the bottom of each chair is the date and location found.
The year’s new programming consists of Armory Film, Solo Projects, and Armory Performance. Armory Film is curated by the Moving Image Fair, screening an international selection of contemporary and experimental films each evening from 5:00 to 8:00 PM—Sunday from 4:00–7:00—in the Wall Street Journal Media Lounge. Solo Projects features 11 emerging dealers’ solo artist presentations, a gesture similar to that of Art Kabinett or Art Positions at Art Basel Miami Beach in December. Armory Performance is curated by Swedish museum Malmö Konsthall’s director Jacob Fabricius, and includes various musical performances, ‘living sculptures,’ and the Armory Show 2012 Commissioned Artist Theaster Gates ‘holding court’ at the booth of Kavi Gupta. Also new this year is a private VIP hour each day before the fair opens to the general public.
Director Jacob Fabricius, in addition to Armory Performance, is also curating Armory Focus: The Nordic Countries. In its third edition, the section recognizes “the region’s increasing importance on the global art scene and its vital presence in New York City.” Galleries from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland, have their own small wing of the fair—the Nordic Lounge—and are featured in the Armory Performance, the OPEN FORUM discussions, and FREE STUFF. The OPEN FORUM is a series of discussions, slated for one hour each, with several every afternoon. Topics range from history and criticism, to the art market and utopia; “the talks will draw on the distinctions and affinities between the socially engaged artistic, curatorial, writing and administrative practices of the two geographic regions.” FREE STUFF is as good as it sounds—Scandinavian artist-designed pencils, pens, folders, lamps, pins, tattoos, stickers, toilet paper, posters, and t-shirts, all for free.
Theaster Gates holds the title of Commissioned Artist at this year’s exhibition, conducting “an on-site quasi-performance/intervention titled See, Sit, Sup, Sip, Sing: Holding Court.” In addition to displaying the artist’s works, he will be present throughout the fair to converse with fair-goers, sitting at a table made of old desks from a Chicago elementary school named after the “Afro-Indian Revolutionary martyr Crispus Attucks”—the first person killed in the Boston Massacre. On small chalkboards at hand, he will document and preserve each conversation. The educational theme is meant to create a more approachable environment, with reciprocal learning by all participants.
The Piers are located four cross-town blocks—about a fifteen minute walk—west of the nearest subway stop at West 50th Street and Eighth Avenue. Shuttles run between the Armory Show piers and the concurrent Whitney Biennial and VOLTA NY, and the Chelsea gallery district. The fair is open Thursday through Saturday from noon to 8 PM, and Sunday from noon to 7 PM. Tickets may be bought online or at the Box Office during show hours; General Admission: $30; Students: $10; Groups (10+): $15; Run of Show Pass (4 day): $60; The Armory Show/Volta NY Pass: $40.
Installation view at Moniquemeloche Gallery
Exhibition Site [The Armory Show]
On View at the Armory: More Asian Galleries [Wall Street Journal]
Melted Legos, $5.8 million Kline, Hotel Beds: Armory Week Guide [Bloomberg]
New York fairs put on their game faces [The Art Newspaper]