*This is the last of two writings exploring a recent excursion to New York City. Connections lured me to the megacity and the art delivered. New experiences became new memories. The East Coast aesthetic dominates its territory.
Visiting numerous galleries in Chelsea, the theme of equality dominated. I craved for artworks that advocated, spoke to the human experience, and/or demonstrated a commitment to an arts practice. New York City didn’t disappoint and delivered.
As a female artist, I question the art world structures and its financial influence on past and future generations. In the end, talent must override educational and socioeconomic factors that dominate opportunity. Truth in art requires diversity.
The Hauser & Wirth Gallery presented Arte Povera curated by Ingvild Goetz. From their website: “Ringing in a new era of artistic practice, Arte Povera emerged against the backdrop of political and social reawakening that defined Italy in the 1960s. At a time marked by increasing disillusionment with the competing ideologies of American capitalism and Soviet communism, Italians began to embrace an identity characterized by urbanity and industrialization that simultaneously paid homage to the country’s cultural heritage.” Overall, the gallery’s space was abundant featuring numerous floors of over 150 artworks. My Western perspective needed time to download.
Mounir Fatmi’s Survival Signs at the Jane Lombard Gallery captured my breath. From the wall text: “Today, I don’t have the strength nor the courage to offer myself to a terrorized customs agent faced with a poor Arab artist. I know this situation of immigrants in the USA has gotten worse since the latest immigration laws. That getting through the border is more and more difficult. This time I would be incapable of swearing on any holy book or of accepting any more humiliations. I must protect whatever little hope I have left. That hope is my survival.”
Walking into the Luhring Augustine gallery was an unearthly experience. Tom Friedman’s exhibit Ghosts and UFOs: Projections for Well-Lit Spaces included video installations that quietly contorted the viewer’s experience. While artist Trevor Paglen’s A Study of Invisible Images at Metro Pictures confronted a viewer with a refreshing subversive honesty. Paglen’s art practice investigates covert institutions and was recently awarded the 2017 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.
The Protruding Patterns exhibit by artist Lin Tianmiao at Galerie Lelong & Co. explored gender and its expectations. From the press release: “By making visible and tangible the various definitions of womanhood that transcend cultures and time, Lin creates an immersive platform to explore how women feel within their evolving societal roles.” In addition, Rosalyn Drexler’s Occupational Hazard paintings at the Garth Greenan Gallery explored a dubious set of characters that alter society with negative impacts. Tianmiao and Drexler: two women investigating the structures of humanity.
Ultimately, it’s difficult not to reconcile the history and environment of Wall Street within the art world. Artists become speculative objects of investment in a capitalistic society. Money affirms an art practice and artists need to survive. However, the boundaries become blurred between identity and substance. Inclusiveness does matter and supportive galleries must be acknowledged…