The Buzz on John Bock (Literally) at the Independent Art Fair

Artist John Bock's work at Independent Art fair involved an actress hired to dismember his likeness with a chainsaw
Artist John Bock's work at Independent Art fair involved an actress with a chainsaw who dismembered a statue of him

Artist John Bock’s work at Independent Art Fair involved an actress with a chainsaw who dismembered a statue of him.
Photo:Eileen Kinsella

Visitors stepping on to the fourth floor of the former Dia Center in Chelsea on West 22nd Street for the aptly-named Independent Art Fair Thursday afternoon were greeted by the shrill buzz of a power tool. The source of the noise was a young woman dressed in a heavy white shirt, dark pants, and work boots who was deftly wielding a chainsaw and intently focused on carving up an identically dressed, life-size wood statue piece by piece. But when we asked Sprüth Magers’s director Franziska Von Hasselbach who this presumably emerging artist was,  we were surprised when she replied—above the roar of the saw and flying wood chips—it’s “a work by John Bock.”

The lumberjack was actually an actress who was hired to destroy the sculpture, which is a likeness of the artist himself, a comment perhaps on self-loathing or self-destruction? Asked if the performance would be ongoing or repeated, Von Hasselbach said no but added that the time frame for completing the task was up to the one-woman demolition crew. Following that, the plan was for “body” parts of the dismembered work to be put in plastic bags and strewn throughout the booth for the remainder of the fair, a dark reference to serial killers who keep gruesome mementos of their work.

Independent’s laid-back “anti-fair” vibe is reflected in the grid-less layout and frequently challenging task of figuring out whether labels—if they exist at all—refer to artists or the galleries showing their work. Among other highlights was an unlabeled wall at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, where dozens of  square glass-fronted works by text-centric artist Frances Stark were hung. One standout was a screenshot of a text thread that read: “Deitch apparently went up to Puff Daddy at Basel and said ‘Hey Kanye.’”

A work by Frances Start at Gavin Brown's space at Indpendent Art Fair

A work by Frances Stark at Gavin Brown for the fifth annual Indpendent Art Fair.
Photo: Eileen Kinsella.

Eileen Kinsella


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