Art fairs can be boring, and curatorial statements, beyond dull, but at PULSE New York Contemporary Art Fair this year, a new platform called Conversations encourages galleries to engage in a more stimulating and critical form of curation.
Participating galleries bring two artists each to their booths, to engage their work in visual and conceptual (but not actual, words-coming-out-of-their-mouths) dialogue. Conversations began last year at PULSE Miami Beach, and eight galleries out of 45 total exhibitors will participate in the program this year in New York. Among them are Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea, CEDE Gallery, Galerie L’Inlassable, Kinder MODERN, Laffy Maffei Gallery, mc2gallery, Pentimenti Gallery, and Uprise Art.
Some booths will explore stylistic similarities, like Uprise Art, which will present works on paper by Ky Anderson alongside those of Vicki Sher. Or mc2gallery, which will bring works by Renato D’Agostin and Gianluca Quaglia that all address the color black. "Like the environment in which we live is shaped from us so we are shaped and influenced in our movements from an environment, in a perpetual and invisible exchange where both artists shape their vision and play with us, who we are invited to live their installation. Welcome back to black," mc2gallery intimates.
Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea will pair paintings by Guilano Sale and Fred Stonehouse, for a presentation called “Intrusive Thoughts. Painting between Anxiety and Escapism." Says the gallery, "In the ideal face-off between the Italian Giuliano Sale and the American Fred Stonehouse, the branching of two different expressive directions comes clearly to the surface. In Sale the excess of imagery leads to a dystopian vision of human experience, partially inherited from Expressionism and the European avant-gardes, while in Stonehouse, a professor of drawing and painting at the University of Wisconsin, the tendency to construct a fantasy world, an alternative to reality, closer to the naive formulations of folklore, seems to prevail." The former’s eerie, smudged portraits will engage the latter’s absurd, sideshow banner-esque works.
Galleries like Laffy Maffei use Conversations as a prompt for collaboration. Brenna Murphy and Sabrina Ratté, inspired by Foucault and the internet, will present a collaborative installation under the title Other Spaces. Working with projections on prints, the works will synthesize Murphy’s digital architectural spaces with Ratté’s glitchy abstractions to depict "an impalpable reality where architectures and interlocking lattices are continuously evolving, transforming and morphing into new environments, thus unfolding a constantly shifting perspective between dimensions," according to the gallery.
Conversations encourages collaboration between artists and the synthesis of new ideas. To participate, galleries must take an extra step in their curation, working to increase the symbolic value of both artists’ works. And the more symbolic value a work builds, through literature, scholarly discourse, or programs like this, the more economic value collectors are willing to shell out on owning it. And what else is the goal of an art fair?
PULSE will take place at the Metropolitan Pavilion at 125 W 18th Street, New York, NY, from March 3-6.