At SELECT, Take a Break from the Standard Fair
No big names here, but plenty of interesting art.
Bored of the standard fair fare? You might try checking out SELECT. In its first year in New York, the fair may be located in Chelsea, but it would feel equally at home in Brooklyn. You won’t see too many big names here, but you will find some off-the-wall stuff and a decidedly relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere.
For a fair that few people have heard of, Thursday night’s preview was packed with an eclectic crowd that came to have a good time and drink beer from cans. Towards the end, it got kinda rowdy. At one point a sculpture was knocked over, and no one seemed particularly angry about it. Luckily, it did not appear to be broken. Something containing ping pong balls was also spilled (or perhaps exploded?) and fair employees had to scramble around picking them up. This was amusing.
The 44-booth fair is clearly committed to showing work that’s progressive. In fact, each exhibiting gallery is required to dedicate a portion of their booths to works that are new media, installation-based, or conceptual. This mandate, while a bit broad, helps to carve out an identity for the upstart during a week that’s already saturated. Situated on two floors in the Altman Building, the top floor houses traditional gallery booths, while the bottom floor is dedicated to galleries showcasing the work of a single artist with a recent body of work. There are several galleries from cities not traditionally thought of as “art cities” – places like St. Louis, Houston and Minneapolis. It’s refreshing to see what’s being produced outside the bubble, and predict the names that might become buzzy in the coming years.
A highlight of the lower level is a site-specific installation by Santa Fe-based art collective Meow Wolf. Entitled Mallplexes, it is weird and detailed and begs for the close examination of each object, as well as appreciation of their compilation as a whole. If that isn’t up your alley, head to the back and take a peek at Director’s Den by Ventiko, a Baroque-inspired performance featuring several participants in relative states of undress. Or, just go hang out at the beer garden and eat hotdogs.
The strange thing about Frieze Week is that many of the same people who complain that the main fair is a slog also seem unwilling to test the waters at a lesser-known satellite. Those people are silly. The joys of an upstart fair, aside from seeing work that feels gritty and cutting-edge (and okay, occasionally amateurish) is that exhibitors are excited to talk about the work they’re showing, and people in general seem less burned out. Oh, and you don’t have to worry about what to say in case you find yourself ensconced in conversation with Leonardo DiCaprio
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