The Armory’s Silver Lining

Despite this being my umptieth time at The Armory Show, I am still shocked at how enormous the fair is and that water costs $3.27. Yet again, my sincere attempt to look at everything remains insane and impossible. The Armory, which ran from March 7-11th, is indeed overwhelmingly large and overwhelmingly commercial––stuffed with art pieces and unreasonably large VIP areas. It is also a bit of a fashion show and a 100% guarantee to run into someone you know. I was delighted to see Knight Landesman, the editor-in-chief of Artforum, sporting a teal beard. I have a gnawing suspicion that might be a trend this year.

Armory2A mannequin pretends to be human at the Armory. Photo by Steph Ziemann

From the pieces I managed to extract from the muddy blurs of my memory, it appears that the art trend this year was neon text work. Which was last year I thought? Almost every corner I took there was some sort of text piece, neon or not, suspended, LEDed out or glowing. Seriously, Terence Koh’s “Love for Eternity,” Tim Noble and Sue Webster’s “Nihilistic/Optimistic,” another similar sign that read “Prostitution/Spiritual,” “Hocuspocus,” a room full of Peter Liversoidge’s “etc.” and best yet, Jung Lee’s photographs of neon lights on the lawn spelling out “P.S I love you.” The latter I actually enjoyed; they were sweet. Below are some other things I enjoyed.

Matthew Sawyer at Rokeby Gallery

Sawyer’s work was captivating and thoughtful. He works with text and circumstance, combining chance and human emotions to create experience. The almost performative pieces result in precious objects––moments captured in initial stages. He would write phrases from songs and place them into stranger’s pockets, then photograph the strangers candidly, their faces peeking obscurely from the swarms of people in front of them. The theatrical aspect of these staged connections, the desperation and the sneakiness was sweet, perverse and scary all at once.

Armory3Seeing stars at the Armory. Photo by Steph Ziemann

Matt Collishaw at Other Criteria

The London-based gallery had a mixed group of artists on display. Of course, there was Damien Hirst, but what I really enjoyed were Matt Collishaw’s dark still lives, depicting the last meals of serial killers like John Wayne Gacy and Adof Eichmann. Arranged in the manner of Flemish memento mori paintings, the images were an unnerving reminder of the lives of these men and their last desires. For Wayne Gacy, it was fried chicken and shrimp, for Eichmann, a somber drink. The last requests were spooky as visuals, decadent in their layouts, poisonous at the bottom of the stomachs. These bookmarks of imminente death were gems for me.

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