The Independent Art Fair Made Online Viewing Rooms You’ll Actually Want to Visit—Get a Preview Ahead of the IRL Opening

The fair's media-rich online viewing platform launches this week.

Independent New York (2017). Courtesy of Independent New York.

The Independent Art Fair prides itself on telling nuanced stories. More than other fairs on the circuit, Independent has carefully defined itself as a space for discovering and reexamining artists through multiple lenses. 

Perhaps it comes as no surprise, then, that a fair so focused on storytelling would launch online viewing rooms that are a step above the rest.

On Thursday, April 28, Independent launches its 2022 online fair platform a full week in advance of the in-person VIP fair preview on Thursday, May 5. The fair is billing itself as a truly hybrid enterprise this year, and the platform delivers on that promise. 

For those unable to attend the fair live, or whose curiosity simply can’t wait one more week, the platform is an immersive tool that leans heavily on scholarly critique and is saturated with high-quality media. Indeed, this is no simple pdf with images.

Trude Viken, Diary Notes (2021). Courtesy of the artist, Fortnight Institute, and Independent New York.

Trude Viken, Diary Notes (2021). Courtesy of the artist, Fortnight Institute, and Independent New York.

Visitors will encounter talks and podcasts with artists along with never-before-seen performances and behind-the-scenes studio footage. This year, Independent commissioned 13 pieces of original writing by scholars and critics including Hunter Braithwaite, John Chiaverina, Francesca Gavin, Martin Herbert, Elizabeth Karp-Evans, and Barry Schwabsky, each offering in-depth analyses of individual artists. 

In one engrossing video monologue, Norwegian artist Trude Viken, who shows with Fortnight Institute, delves into the process behind her darkly comic expressionist paintings. In a video-game-inspired film vignette, emerging artist Zoé Blue Mshowing with PAGE (NYC), speeds about various studio tasks while surrounded by her Japanese folktale-inspired paintings.

As an introduction to the practices of emerging artists, the platform offers deep dives. For example, an essay by James Trainor takes us into the world of Maine painter Meghan Brady, who is showing with Mrs. Gallery, and who works in a long-abandoned Victorian high school (lots of captivating photographs flesh out the engrossing text).

In an essay on Bronx-based painter David Shrobe, showing with Monique Meloche, writer Francesca Gavin backs us into the long history of classical portraiture that Shrobe reconfigures.

The platform shines a spotlight on influential artists who have faded from view or whose legacies are primed for reevaluation. New York’s Magenta Plains, for instance, will be showcasing the work of Jennifer Bolande, who came up in the East Village art scene of the late 1970s and early ‘80s. In an episode of the fair’s podcast, Voices on Art, the artist delves into her conceptual practice, which spans photography, sculpture, installation, performance, and film.

Hanna Hur, Quad iii (2021). Courtesy of the artist, Kristina Kite, and Independent New York

Hanna Hur, Quad iii (2021). Courtesy of the artist, Kristina Kite, and Independent New York

The strong presence of Indigenous and Asian artists is noteworthy this year. Another essay by Gavin introduces visitors to the dreamlike work of Peruvian artist Paolo Salvador, who is showing with Peres Projects for the first time in the U.S.

Also of interest are the striking pattern-based works of Korean-Canadian artist Hanna Hur, whose art will be on view with Los Angeles’s Kristina Kite Gallery, and who appears on the platform in an interview with curator Christopher Lew. 

There’s a lot more than just that, including a significant number of self-taught artists (see the kaleidoscopic visions of Uman, showing with Nicola Vassell) and artists experimenting with the limits of photography. Most importantly, unlike most OVRs, it’s a pleasure to navigate. 

Independent’s online fair platform is live April 28–May 31. Independent Art Fair takes places May 5–8, 2022.

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