Rozalia Jovanovic’s Top 10 Booths at the Armory Show 2015

We choose the top 10 booths at Pier 94.

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Installation view of William J. O'Brien’s ceramics at Marianne Boesky.
Photo: Rozalia Jovanovic.
Installation view of Spruth Magers’s booth featuring Thea Djordjadze’s She didn't have friends, children, sex, religion, marriage, success, a salary or a fear of death. She worked (2014).
Photo: Rozalia Jovanovic.
Installation view at Honor Fraser featuring Glenn Kaino’s A Shout Within a Storm.
Photo: Rozalia Jovanovic.
Installation view of Kukje Gallery / Tina Kim Gallery featuring works from Yee Sookyung's "Translated Vase" series.
Photo: Rozalia Jovanovic.
Installation view of Aanant & Zoo / Thomas Schulte featuring an installation by Michael Muller.
Photo: Rozalia Jovanovic.
Installation view of Michel Rein featuring works by Abigail Deville and Farah Atassi.
Photo: Rozalia Jovanovic.
Brandon Ballengée's "Frameworks of Absence" at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts
Brandon Ballengée's "Frameworks of Absence" at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Photo: Casey Dorobek
Installation view of Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s "A Convention of Tiny Movements" (2015), a project dispersed throughout the Armory Show.
Photo: Rozalia Jovanovic.
James Fuentes showed Berta Fischer's Toylim (2014).
Photo: Courtesy of James Fuentes.
Installation view of Johann Konig’s booth featuring Tatiana Trouve’s Refolding (2014).
Photo: Rozalia Jovanovic.

1. Michel Rein
The two works on view by Abigail Deville in this booth blew us away. An assemblage of branches, shells, shoes, and burned objects held court at the center of the booth like debris from a ritual or some dire event. A more subtle work, Nobody Knows Your Name (2015), of wood, mirror, and neon was propped upright against the wall. Born in 1981, the socially and politically committed artist was an artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem this past year. “She tries to make visible invisible people,” said gallery owner Michel Rein, “especially people who are not present in the history of the US.” The work against the wall sold to the Hort Collection in New York (“They knew the work,” said Rein) (see Want a Peek Inside the Exclusive Hort Family Collection?), while the more challenging assemblage had yet to find a taker. “There’s a lot of interest in the sculpture.” Also in the booth were bright, eye-grabbing paintings by Syrian artist Farah Atassi whose work seems to borrow from Magritte and the cubists as much as it does modernist textile patterns.

2. Marianne Boesky
Marianne Boesky’s booth was seemingly overflowing with the colorful weighty ceramics of William J. O’Brien. O’Brien’s cheeky and sometimes monstrous abstractions on the human form seem to nod both to Henry Moore or ancient Aztec stone statuary of deities, with a glitzy twist. O’Brien had his first major survey exhibition, “William J. O’Brien,” this past year at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

3. Sprüth Magers
Pulling us into the booth at Sprüth Magers was a large work by Thea Djordjadze composed of a mattress-sized piece of green industrial foam attached to a somewhat delicate black steel structure called She didn’t have friends, children, sex, religion, marriage, success, a salary or a fear of death. She worked (2014). The stunning work anchored a booth featuring more striking works by Djordjadze, who is known for her use of geometric shapes and mundane materials like carpet and linoleum, along with works by Hanne Darboven and Jenny Holzer. “It was a very conscious decision to have these works put together,” said director Sarah Watson, who also noted that Djordjadze has an upcoming project at MoMA. Watson noted that the Djordjadze work had already been placed in a museum. “We’ve done very well. We’re pleased.”

4. Kukje Gallery, Seoul / Tina Kim Gallery, New York
In a captivating stint of cultural mishmashery were Yee Sookyung’s enormous, bulbous sculptures made from ceramic shards of celadon and traditional white porcelain rearranged, and soldered back together with gold leaf accents. These works, from her “Translated Vase” series, refashion a specific cultural history into something more borderless. Also on view were the colorful machine-embroidered cotton paintings of Kyungah Ham.

5. Honor Fraser
The booth at Honor Fraser was devoted to the work of Glenn Kaino. Two works dominated: one, the Last Sight of Icarus, a wall composed of cinder blocks cast in Paraffin wax cut through the gallery at a diagonal and creating a soft backdrop for the showstopper. A Shout Within a Storm. a mobile comprising hundreds of fine copper-plated steel arrows, which were hung in such a way that they culminated in a point and looked like the dust trail of a shooting star. Kaino is coming off of a great year, with a solo show at the Studio Museum and inclusion in Prospect.3 (see Prospect.3 Biennial Trains Its Eye Provocatively on the Art World’s Social Failings), at which he presented Tank (see Glenn Kaino Is Inspired as Much by Ferguson as a Bottle of Opus One), a work that earned him much buzz.

6. Aanant & Zoo / Thomas Schulte
The pink lush carpet at Aanant & Zoo/Thomas Schulte, too alluring to pass up, lead you to Michael Muller’s psychosexual installation, an iteration of an earlier Berlin exhibition, combines an overweening wall text paired with an array of compelling but confounding sculptural objects like a pair of plaster legs of a nude male in a lunge, various phallic objects placed on pedestals, and a work called Relaunch at the Museum Shop (2014), an assemblage including a Louis Vuitton-esque bag, a cut-out portrait of Dürer, and a stack of museum fliers. In dialogue with Müller’s installation are Vlado Martek’s intriguing works on paper, created from fragments of poems that he works into collages, photographs, and sketches.

7. Lawrence Abu Hamdan, “A Convention of Tiny Movements” (2015). A project dispersed throughout the Armory Show

Not technically a “booth,” if you stop in at Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s unassuming installation–some potted plants, a box of tissues on a stand, and a rack of potato chip bags—you’ll notice a slight but enveloping humming sound that gently shifts pitch. The sound is created from the various objects on display, which Abu Hamdan, using an evolving technology, has elicited from the objects by recording them via high-speed video. He’s thus turned the plants and the potato chips into “visual microphones” in an effort to explore the “sonic footprint” we all leave behind in a world of escalating surveillance. And, while you ponder the microvibrations of potato chips, feel free to take a bag.

8. Ronald Feldman Fine Arts
Brandon Ballengée’s “The Frameworks of Absence” offered a fantastic subversion of form. What appears, on passing by, to be a respectable if uneventful presentation of wildlife watercolors, is startlingly revealed to be much more. Ballengée has cut out the animals from the celebrated prints of John James Audobon. Rather than seeing a Macaw or an Eastern Elk, one sees a glaring hole that matches the wine-red clubby backdrop of the walls. In his ode to animals which are becoming extinct, and his subtle call to action to viewers, Ballengée has created one of the more memorable experiences at the fair.

9. James Fuentes
Lower East Side dealer James Fuentes has created an evocative presentation of the work of emerging artist Berta Fischer. Fischer’s toylim (2014), an abstract, pink and yellow Plexiglass sculpture occupies Fuentes’s booth like a bird mid-flight, which seems to transform under the overhead light as you move around it, while smaller works whimsically dot the outer wall. Fuentes always seems to know how to make the most from his booth and create a splash, and this year is no exception.

10. Johann König
Tatiana Trouvé currently has an intriguing installation in Central Park that pays homage to significant historical marches that employs candy-colored spools of thread (see Tatiana Trouve and Public Art Fund Bring Homage to Selma and Other Historic Walks to Central Park). You can see some of her sculpture, on a smaller scale, impressively fashioned from industrial materials, including Refolding (2014), at Johann König. Also on view is a compelling little bronze work that appears at first to be a power drill but is not, by up-and-comer Camille Henrot.

For more fair coverage see Don’t Miss Our Critics Picks at the Sprawling, Exciting Armory Show 2015.

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