Apr 2, 2015

Art Fair Review: Moving Image New York 2015

Each spring, a bevy of fine arts fairs are simultaneously scheduled in order to take advantage of the concentrated audience of collectors and art enthusiasts that gathers in New York for the week of The Armory Show. In previous years, I had noted with interest that one of these fairs is the Moving Image Fair, but had not had a chance to visit. This year, I received an email from Blouin Artinfo titled “5 Picks at the Moving Image Fair,” which, with a list of individuals that comprised the “curatorial advisory board,” left me curious as to what kind of curation would be tied to a commercial art fair, outside of a fee for exhibition space. On top of that, I was also curious to see what characteristics the top five works—all of which happen to be by one of the ten artists with New York gallery representation—might be. This curation-on-top-of-curation aspect of the fair afforded an interesting perspective from which to think about curatorial strategies.

Moving Image New York 2015
The Moving Image Fair, started in New York City in 2011 by Edward Winkleman and Murat Orozobekov of New York’s Winkleman Gallery, presents an alternative to other art fairs, because, according to Winkleman, “people don’t feel they have time to watch video at an art fair” whereas at Moving Image “it’s possible to present a large number of videos within a modest space, without compromising on how the viewer experiences the work.” Iterations of the fair take place in both New York and London each year and, in 2014, in Istanbul as well. Moving Image has a very specific model. According to one of the on-site representatives I talked to, there is no application process: the curators are announced six months prior to the opening and while participation is by invitation only, the galleries still pay to take part. While the choice of participant galleries depends in part upon the artist/gallery networks to which individual curators belong, the founders require that the artists and galleries represented are international in scope. Unlike most, this art fair does not require gallerists to stay on the premises. In a recent interview, Orozobekov stated that “Moving Image has worked to establish its own position in the global art market with a long-term goal of experimenting in presentation ideas that may facilitate more inclusion of film and video in other more traditional art fairs. From the feedback we receive from visitors, we believe we have accomplished one of our main goals, which is to slow people down during the very busy fairs long enough for them to see video on its own terms. At Moving Image, there is no rush. Gallery staff are not hovering around every work, and there is plenty of comfortable seating provided by the fair for viewers to take their time.”

Cristina de Miguel’s animated GIFs
During my visit to the fair, these tenets held true. Moving Image New York 2015 was held March 5–8, 2015 at the Terminal Warehouse Company Central Stores Building, also known as Waterfront Tunnel, in Chelsea—a location, which served as the site of dance club Tunnel from 1986 to 2001. The narrow space is well suited to the display of moving image works. For the most part, the works were presented in one of the two rows of monitors that hung down from an overhead truss—which hid some of the requisite power cords and other cables—on either side of the narrow space. This configuration allowed the viewer to focus on the screen immediately facing the one or two height-adjustable stools provided in the viewing area. Headphones attached to the majority of the monitors prevented audio from spilling over to neighboring works. The space was not crowded. At most, there were six people gathered around one monitor and I was able to focus upon individual works at my leisure. If one work’s viewing space was fully occupied, I could move on to another and then circle back later.

Upon entering the space, I encountered yet another instance of Moving Image Fair NY curation in an announcement that Peggy Ahwesh’s City Thermogram had been chosen by the show’s founders for display in Times Square during April 2015, every night from 11:57 p.m. to midnight, as part of a series of monthly presentations by The Times Square Advertising Coalition (TSAC) and Times Square Arts. Immediately thereafter I saw one of the Artinfo writer’s picks, Leslie Thornton’s Binocular series, which “features, set across multiple screens, two distinct images: on the left, an animal, and on the right, the same image manipulated in a circular pattern not unlike a kaleidoscope.” When I asked one of the security guards which works were his favorites, he named Thornton’s series and Jamie Zigelbaums’s One Hundred Hours per Minute, which, with its personalized interactivity premise, was an obvious crowd pleaser and also—alongside two additional Zigelbaum works—an Artinfo pick.

My search term. Click image for video.
The other Artinfo picks were: Peggy Ahwesh’s Lessons of War (2014), comprised of Taiwanese news animations edited to illustrate conflict over the Gaza strip and displayed on a stack of five CRT monitors; Cristina de Miguel’s series of eight disarmingly simple hand-drawn GIF animations from 2014, each displayed on a separate vertically oriented monitor; and the world premiere of Zach Nader’s the wave (2015), a single-channel compilation of appropriated imagery disrupted by rapid oscillation patterns, a single. While the fair presented works by thirty-four artists and artist groups, the five highlighted in the Artinfo article did share a couple of characteristics: four of the five utilized multiple screens and were displayed outside of the rows of hanging monitors, and all five of these works had short total running times, with the longest, Lessons of War, clocking in at 5:34 minutes.

I do think that the Moving Image Fair provides a great opportunity to see a wide variety of mostly contemporary moving image works (one work, an Oliver Bevan Op Art kinetic lightbox, was dated 1975) in a relaxed but engaging environment. While I do not visit commercial gallery exhibitions often and do not consider myself to be extremely well versed in contemporary moving image artwork, it seemed to me that the format, style, and content of the works on view offered a nice range of the types of work that are popular with both private and institutional collectors. I look forward to next year’s fair. If you are interested, clips from many of the works are available here.

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