The Armory Show 2012
Manhattan's West 55th Street and 12th Avenue is considered to be "No Man's Land" to most New Yorkers (or "Midtown West" to real estate brokers and agents), especially during the cold, winter months. With bike paths and mini pier parks running along the Hudson River, this strip of property adjacent to the West Side Highway is prime summer-time fun. But it is March. Even though this year's winter has been fairly mild, foot traffic to the historical piers are still low...until this weekend. The Armory Show, New York's leading fine art fair, is currently going on at Piers 92 and 94, and with a four-avenue walk from the nearest subway station, the people-watching as I made my way over was exactly what I had expected: young, trendy art folk who seemed to migrate over from the L line's Williamsburg hipster neighborhood, SoHo chic NY gallery-types dressed in all-black, business exec upper east and west siders in suits and black heels exiting from black town cars or yellow cabs, and even the old-school east village art-folk type whose rent-controlled apartment leaves them with extra income to splurge on some art collateral.
I was there specifically to find the Michael Kohn Gallery (Booth 818) where friends of mine had their work presented. Simmons & Burke, an LA-based power couple of visual and audio work, use images and sounds from the internet and popular culture for a majority of their pieces in a beautifully chaotic way. I am embarrassed to admit it, but this was my first time seeing the their pieces as intended (visual component included). I was completely floored by the endless references that triggered my brain to take me on a journey of continuous stimulation. The pieces are so dense with information, yet not overwhelming, that one individual piece could live organically for a lifetime. Collage #8, one of their newest works, puts you in a dream-like state with one to four-second soundbites randomly playing, orchestrating the accompaniment to the gorgeous swift to slow movements staring at you. Sounds include familiar bits of life that are obviously the soundtrack to a living person, but something you would not think of right away (clips of songs, voices speaking, Apple's original sound for an email, soundtracks to old television shows, shoes walking, etc.)
The If Not Summer series tweaked my anxiety meter a little more than the others, reminding me of a Dante's-Inferno-meets-Dali-meets-a-13-year-old-tween-on-Facebook. The audio track was a little more jarring, which I think is why it leaves the viewer unsettled. My favorite piece in the collection was Count-Off Collection, a strictly audio piece that was completely randomized tracks of recorded musicians counting off to a song from one of their albums. Some famous bands you can recognize are The Clash, James Brown, The Avett Brothers, Sufjan Stevens and Outkast. I stood listening to the piece for 10 minutes, never bored, never tired, always engaged and keeping me always in anticipation of thinking, "maybe finally they will start playing after the 1-2-3-4..." but no, I'm never satisfied. It was beautiful.
THE BARE FEET™ FIVE 1. The Armory Show: The Armory Show continues this weekend until Sunday, March 11th, 2012. Get your tickets now and make your way over to be inspired! 2. Food and drink? At the show, there are boutique coffee vendors, healthy food stands, and even a champagne bar. An upscale art show only deserves the upscale treatment - sponsors include Illy and Kusmi Tea. 3. More Art: Other satellite art fairs are happening simultaneous to the Armory Show, including ADAA at the Park Avenue Armory. Make it a whole weekend of NYC art! 4. More modern art: The MoMA and The New Museum are both fantastic places to find more examples of leading modern art in New York City! 5. Andy Warhol for a day: Want to live like pop art legend Andy Warhol for a day? Check out his favorite places in NYC with this list of his stomping ground spots!