March 13, 2012

NYC Art Fairs 2012, and "It's the Political Economy, Stupid"

Pulse may have decided, wisely, that the field's gotten too crowded; they've moved to May.

Within four days (Mar. 3 - 11), viewers were offered the Armory Show, Scope, VOLTA, the Moving Image Fair, the Independent Fair, the Dependent Fair, the Fountain Art Fair, the Spring Break fair, and the Brucennial; not to mention the Whitney Biennial, the New Museum Triennial and plenty of other shows, most of which could only be viewed Wed. thru Sun., i.e. mostly the same days the fairs were open, and mostly only during roughly the same hours. Given that most exhibitions include a lot more video and other time-based work than they used to, any hope of seeing and doing justice to all the work shown has become even more remote.

I saw (in no particular order): the Armory Show – just the contemporary Pier and some of the Armory Film programs; the Moving Image Fair; the Independent; the Dependent; Spring Break; the Brucennial; the It's the Political Economy, Stupid show at the Austrian Cultural Forum; the Whitney Biennial; and the New Museum Triennial.

I shot lots of photos, which I'm in the process of culling and putting online. The first up are from It's the Political Economy, Stupid, curated by Gregory Sholette and Oliver Ressler. The exhibition borrows its title from Slavoj Žižek's twist on Pres. Clinton's old campaign slogan. (Image above from The Bull Laid Bear (2012), video, 24 min., Zanny Begg & Oliver Ressler, from this show.)

As you may know, I've followed the economic situation for a while and am concerned that economic reform is essential but that few non-experts understand the problems well enough to know what should be done about them. But the problems aren't all that hard to understand; it's just that the perpetrators have done a terrific job obfuscating them. (My own grasp happens to be a little better than average, since I happened to write a paper on Glass-Steagall back when it was being repealed, and I've also had experience with commercial loans that were rolled into the kind of securitized mortgage pools blamed by some for the economic meltdown.)

The works in Political Economy were really brilliant, using various documentary and imaginative strategies to greatly further this discussion. More info at the Austrian Cultural Forum; and there's an excellent review of the show on the art:21 blog.

UPDATE: Posts on the other shows I saw will be available here.

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