Joseph Beuys, a subscriber to the idea of artist as shaman, performer of the piece “I Like America and America Likes Me” has a permanent installation outside Dia Chelsea, a converted loft building at 548 West 22nd Street purchased by the Dia Art Foundation in 1987. The piece is called 7000 oaks and is in participation with Beuys’ Documenta 7 project where he aimed to plant 7000 trees world wide. This Chelsea loft space is the venue for this year’s SELECT art fair that I am attending this early evening. Beuys is one of the great artists in the permanent collection of the Dia Foundation which includes the works of Walter De Maria, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Imi Knoebel, Agnes Martin, Blinky Palermo, Jorge Pardo, Gerhard Richter, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol and Gilberto Zorio to name a few.
I find myself standing in a fairly long line that spans about half the block amongst some visibly upset VIPs on this Spring evening. The irony of people being upset by the line outside of the show is that everyone is ignoring the work of art by a very well known artist on the side of the road right here. Anyways, in 1987 when the building was first turned into an art space by the foundation, they hosted “Fond Sculptures” by Beuys and “Drawing After the Codices Madrid of Leonardo da Vinci”, supporting him and other well-known artists like Andy Warhol in 1994, with “The Last Supper Portraits” and again in 1998, hosting “Shadows”.
The foundation is also responsible for presenting the “Dream House” installation, a collaboration by wife / husband Marian Zazeela and La Monte Young. Young, an innovator of drone music, operates under the notion that sound needs duration and in combination with his wife’s talents as a light-artist create an immersive show experience that is the “Dream House” (returning to the space this upcoming June 16, 2015.) This, then, is a fitting venue for me to run into a personal hero of mine, also a drone musician and curated installation himself, Lee Ranaldo of the band Sonic Youth who is performing at this year’s opening. He is swinging guitars from suspended ropes and letting the feedback soar while fairy sprites crawl beneath the feet of curious attendees and masked nude performers bathe each other with floury paste in a steel bucket. This same venue where, in 1995, Gerhard Richter showed his photographs in the show “Atlas.” The same Gerhard Richer who lent his painting “Kerze” or “Candle” to the album cover for Sonic Youth’s ground-breaking debut full length album “Daydream Nation”.
Now the venue founded by Philippa de Menil, Heiner Friedrich, and Helen Winkler is being used also as a rental venue for different fairs such as Independent, Outsider, Editions Artist Books, NADA, and SELECT art fair. Here now, at SELECT I am taken by the mixed media artworks of Hyojin Yoo, Soyeon Shin, and Tulu Baya as well as the photos of Gunther Egger and Giada Paolini. Spanning three floors and the roof-top, the SELECT fair this year was a flowing river of activity in such a great historic venue that will continue to see performances and artworks for the years to come.
Article by Nick Rogers