Art stars burn bright and close at this year’s Armory Show, where over 200 of the world’s top galleries came together. Near the entrance to Pier 94, I stood in the shadow of a massive kinetic cinderblock suspended roughly 10 feet above my head, which was developed by Dutch artists Studio Drift and presented by Pace Gallery. I basked in the delightfully giant blackness of a Kehinde Wiley portrait. I set foot upon a text-work of Lawrence Weiner’s – CAREFULLY BALANCED ON THE EDGE OF A HOLE – installed on the floor where it encircles a brick square.
Punctuating the labyrinth of gallery booths are works of profound and tender solemnity. I wrote a love letter for Carrie Mae Weems when I came across All the Boys (Blocked 1), a silkscreen dyptich, at Jack Shainman’s booth. One holds the redacted booking sheet for Sandra Bland, a victim of police brutality; the other is of a POC whose face has been redacted by a red rectangle. The heartbreaking repetition of a POC’s face being redacted and information being redacted from Sandra Bland’s booking sheet feels necessary to a context such as The Armory Show. Daniel Joseph Martinez’s Riot Shield (Cherry Blossoms), a poem painted on a riot shield, at the booth of Roberts & Tilton Gallery lifts into greater balance the pomp and circumstance of The Armory Show against the socio-political climate outside it.
The eminent position of The Armory Show as New York’s premier art fair is self-evident in the sophistication of the works shown. The artists represented here exemplify the pinnacle of professional achievement. Standing before the work, it’s easy to see why.
Writing by Charles Shields