The 6 Freshest Booths at Art Basel’s Nova Section
Only showing artworks created within the past 3 years, this year's Nova section highlighted the new hopes of the art world.
Simone Subal Gallery Booth View
Touting artworks "fresh from the artist's studio" per the press release, the Nova section of this year's Art Basel Miami Beach was easily the most cutting edge section in the fair. This was, in no small part, due to Nova's requirement for booths to show artworks created within the past three years, but also because of the high caliber of the predominantly young artists on view, which included many of-the-moment names like Korakrit Arunanondchai, Aleksandra Domanović, and Oliver Laric. Out of the 35 refreshing booths at Nova, we've narrowed down six you need to know now.
Xavier Antin and Renaud Jerez at Galerie Crèvecoeur
At the booth of Parisian Galerie Crèvecoeur, the vivid hues and sublime geological forms of Xavier Antin's Liquidity, data flows, and dirty hands lured fairgoers in like moths to a fire. The abstract wall works seemed highly decorative and somewhat superficial at a first glance, but as a gallerist from Galerie Crèvecoeur explained to me, the process behind the works reveals a much higher degree of complexity at play.
Each piece is the result of a digital scanner recording a technique of design known as paper marbling. This unique fusion of digital and analog technology allows the various moments of ink flow that happen throughout the marbleizing process to be scanned digitally and transposed within a singular image, a smashing of temporal moments into a singular image somewhat like a contemporary iteration of photographer Marey's iconic motion studies.
Korakrit Arunanondchai and Harold Ancart at C L E A R I N G
Like an antithesis to the alluring and heavily technological works of Antin, artist Renaud Jerez's shambling humanoid sculptures were almost repulsively and decisively ephemeral. Adorned in burned bandages, cloth, and what appear to be small sewage pipes, these "people" creepily border life and death, lounging around like skeletal mementoes of fairgoers from the past. Wearing mildly fashionable clothes often overflowing in fur and never making "eye contact" with the works in the booth, perhaps the artist has intended for these sculptures to serve as metaphors for frivolous fairgoers, often more concerned with selfies and appearances than with the art itself.
Always a master of aesthetic spectacle, the singular work by Korakrit Arunanondchai on view at C L E A R I N G was an entire post-apocalyptic world inside of a medium-sized glass display case. Arunanondchai's fusion of dead tree roots and bamboo with fiber optics cables and neon lights seemed to represent a post-human earth, one where our technological advances have decayed into the surrounding remnants of a natural environment, transforming Earth's landscape into a Matrix-esque monstrosity. A detail of note is a sculpture of the artist's face fused with a drone embedded within the back of the piece, an eerie, fossil-like fusion of life and tech.
Alongside this sculpture are a series of bright, fiery paintings by Harold Ancart, a Belgian artist who works out of the same studio as Arunanondchai in Brooklyn. Perhaps not as apocalyptic as Arunanondchai's sculpture by possessing an overwhelming cheerful, pastel palette, Ancart's paintings still seem to show moments of destruction, depicting fiery blazes consuming the surrounding landscape within the frame. The burning energy of these paintings provided a calculated counterpoint to the nearby sculptural mass of death and decay, with each artists' works representing a form of turmoil in a unique way.
Anna K.E. and Florian Meisenberg at Simone Subal Gallery
New York's Simone Subal Gallery chose artist couple Anna K.E. and Florian Meisenberg to herald their Basel booth. K.E.'s renderings of cyborgian hands floating through space that are seemingly 'scanned' by transparent, light-emitting shutters seem to share little in common (beyond palette) with Meisenberg's geometric paintings, filled to the brim with references to nature and antiquity that often morph into figurative depictions of human bodies.
But the different approaches and concerns of the artists come together beautifully in Late Checkout, the video installation centerpiece of the booth which is a collaborative work by the artist couple. Elevated on top of a slanted memory foam seating area, the video depicts K.E. in a strange bodysuit while being filmed by Meisenberg inside of a luxury hotel. Rebelling against the typically helpless position of the filmed in relation to the recorder, K.E. uses an app to see how she is being filmed in real time, thus being able to adjust her own positioning and bodily movement in accordance to her desired representation, a gesture that feels like a poetic way of to portray a relationship in emotional balance.
Aleksandra Domanović and Oliver Laric at Tanya Leighton
Possessing one of the heavier hitting lineups in Nova, Berlin-based Tanya Leighton turned up the heat with a strong selection of works by Serbian artist Aleksandra Domanović and Austrian artist Oliver Laric.
Domanović presented two different veins of work for Tanya Leighton's booth. The first stems from her contemporary exploration of Danse Macabre, a form of medieval memento mori art where skeletons and other personifications of death are embedded into otherwise typical scenes. While making her digital iteration of this genre, the artist discovered that there were no renderings of female skeletons available online to download and incorporate in her works leading her to create her own custom female skeleton, denoted through a print of female-inflected pelvis, on view at the booth. Domanović's other series on view is another reinterpretation of older cultural production, recreating Greek Votive Offerings, this time for WNBA players instead of the mythical subject matter employed centuries ago.
Laric's works on view also possessed a strong classical influence. As an ongoing project, the artist frequently negotiates permission from museums and other cultural institutions to scan, alter, and print pre-existing sculptures within their collection, often altering their physical forms and material outputs. On view at the Tanya Leighton booth were both the physical 3D print-outs of some of these sculptures, as well as a print that depicts a collection of these sculptural renderings, somewhat like a trophy case of re-interpreted sculptures from past eras.
Kasper Müller at Société
An intelligent reaction to the selfie culture that is pervasive at art fairs, Kaspar Müller's works at Société were seemingly all about the viewer. Various vintage chairs, including a green, sparkling throne by Marco Zanini (one of the founders of the legendary design collective Memphis Group) and a blow-up mattress invited fairgoers to sit and contemplate the very-instagrammable glass balls that filled-up the booth, tethered together by ropes from the ceiling to the ground.
But beyond their aesthetic appeal, Müller's glass balls are mysterious relics with hidden power. Each ball possesses a unique and sometimes dangerous trait, including one filled with uranium gas and a less harmful one imbued with gold. The exact qualities of each are not easily apparent and the press release intentionally conceals their qualities, resulting in the feverishly photographing masses to be entirely in the dark as to the complexities of what they are posting on social media.
Vern Blosum and Chadwick Rantanen at ESSEX STREET
Vern Blosum's straightforward paintings of flowers and Chadwick Rantanen's hanging animatronic turkeys seem like a strange pairing for an art fair section that values curatorial cohesion, but there was a lot more under the surface at ESSEX STREET's Art Basel booth. For one, Blosum doesn't exist; the name is an alias of an abstract expressionist artist who set out to prove the frivolity of Pop art by creating Pop art works under the name 'Vern Blosum' in the 1960s. The fictional (and still anonymous) artist was somewhat successful in his mission to undermine pop art, having one of his 'fraudulent artworks' acquired by MoMA, at the time unaware of the fictitious nature of the artist, although this acquisition did nothing to halt the art movement, which continued to pick-up steam throughout the decade.
The hovering turkeys by Rantanen cling to a similar idea of fake appearances, although less so in terms of art world shallowness than regarding consumer deceit in capitalist cultures. These modified hunting decoys normally run on AA batteries, but the artist has created custom battery adapters with kitschy bee patterns that allow AAA batteries to be used instead. Focusing on how there are few effective differences between the plethora of battery types, besides functioning as additional products to goad users into buying, the duplicity at play is perfectly at synch with Blosum's intentionally trite Pop, undoubtedly marking Essex Street as another Nova highlight.