For the last few years, NADA has been instrumental in pushing new strategies and concepts for the exhibition and presentation of work in a fair context, exploring alternatives and options to the large-scale fair model in a market environment that has proved increasingly challenging for smaller art spaces. Enter NADA House, an opportunity for NADA members to stage a group show in an intimate and unusual setting on Governors Island. The organization’s second off-site exhibition on Governors Island, the show features 45 artists from NADA Member galleries and non-profits in a new, expanded format across 34 rooms in three historic, turn-of-the-century Colonial Revival houses. With only one or two artists on display in each room, NADA House reflects the camaraderie intrinsic to NADA’s mission, and exemplifies the organization’s adaptive approach to finding new models to present work from its community.
The show prioritizes flow and movement in a space that shows only a small selection of works from room to room, resulting in a presentation that presents as much as a group show as it does a fair environment. Objects and pieces open up onto others quickly and smoothly, emphasizing a collaborative structure as much in organization and thematics as in shared space. In one room, artist Erik Frydenborg’s surreal sculptural objects mixed together varied fiber elements to create a series of objects that gave the impression of a living animal, while Tony Pedemonte’s wrapped fiber sculptures, referencing furniture design, offered a parallel take on fiber work, albeit one that twists the familiar forms of “craft” on its ear. Anya Kielar was presenting a series of colorful paintings in one room, courtesy of Rachel Uffner, which offered a striking counterpoint to the work of Bailey Scieszka in the What Pipeline space, both populating human forms with contrasting markings and inflections that mixed together diverse elements of modern art history with a distinctly contemporary sensibility. LTD Los Angeles was also presenting unique works, a body of sculptures by Ilana Savdie perched on the porch of the house, and taking their own turns on the concept of furniture and utility through their inversions of form and the body. Zach Martin’s work at Fisher Parrish, was a fitting complement, a smoother, flowing approach to sculpture that nevertheless seemed to pull in references to modern design and architectural sensibilities.
All told, the work on view once again underscores NADA’s ability to continue a path of innovation and exploration, both in the works selected for its programs, and its ability to reposition the concept of the venue, artist, gallerist and buyer in the exchange. Even as the gargantuan proceedings of Frieze spill over from Randall’s Island to Manhattan, the team at NADA has shown how one can sidestep outright competition, and thrive on collaboration.
The fair closes May 5th.
— D. Creahan
NADA House [Exhibition Site]