Resistance and feminism: what to expect from this year’s Armory Show

The much-anticipated contemporary art carnival hittings New York with a range of provocative pieces, taking aim at Trump and highlighting the work of female artists

It’s that time of year again, when black-clad art enthusiasts descend upon New York’s Armory Show, the labyrinth-like contemporary art carnival at Piers 92 and 94 in midtown Manhattan. Kicking off 8 March, over 200 international art galleries will set up their kiosks in the white wall jungle to astonish, sell and sizzle on Instagram. Let’s hope they have free wifi.

On top of your painting and photo fare, there will be tech-inspired artworks in the new Focus section, where 34 artists imagine a post-human world. From 3D-printed statues to digital spiritualism, it’s curated by Gabriel Ritter, who is fascinated by our online personas.

” The internet and social media have created an elastic space of human identity, allowing individuals to reimagine themselves in a myriad of ways that were previously unthinkable ,” he says.” The physical body continues to remain a constant- maybe even a obstacle to future development .”

Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is showing a computer-controlled water fountain which depicts portraits of onlookers with water vapour sensors. Berlin artist Oliver Laric is showing a 3D-printed transcript of an ancient statue from Europe and Johannesburg artist Tabita Rezaire, a hybrid artist-yoga teacher, taps into our need to worship the screen with her angelic, Photoshopped self-portraits. Anne Libby, a New York artist, uses machine-cut objects for statues inspired by the prefabricated New York skyscrapers that keep springing up across the city.

Outside the fair, there’ll be a new public art piece by the French street artist JR, who photographed Syrian refugees at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. Their portraits have been blown up larger-than-life and are pasted outside Pier 94.

Expect a flurry of protest art-inspired projects for the Platform section curated by Jen Mergel, as there will be an installation by Wilmer Wilson IV, who has republished a letter to a Mississippi newspaper dated 1919, which threatens to “burn the entire state” if the lynching of black citizens didn’t discontinue, while the South African artist Mary Sibande presents a statue inspired by the anti-apartheid Purple Rain protest in Cape Town from 1989.

For a critical look at the country of America, there’s the Spring/ Break Art Show, a political exhibition now in its seventh year. This year’s theme is A Stranger Comes to Town, or resistance art against the alt-right.

” In sunlight of the rise in nationalism throughout the world and the new outward-facing xenophobia voiced by white supremacists and the current US president, this depict addresses divides and tensions between being an’ outsider’ versus being’ one of us ‘,” said Spring/ Break’s co-founder, Andrew Gori.

It features run from Nate Lewis who shows tense moments from the presidential inauguration with images of African Americans taken from social media, while Kumasi J Barnett paints over Spider-Man comic covers to show a new alter-ego named The Amazing Black Man.

Installation
Installation recreation of the White House’s James S Brady Briefing Room 2018 Photograph: Macon Reed curated by Helen Toomer

A life-sized replica of the White House’s press briefing room has been recreated by artist Helen Toomer, who will use it as a theatrical stage( designed by Macon Reed) for performances throughout the weekend under the title: A Pressing Conference.

A small splashing of political art stimulates its style to the Armory too, as they’re boast the first-ever US exhibition by controversial Chinese artist Huang Rui, a staunch critic of Mao and leading artist from post-revolution China. Rui plays with political mottoes, propaganda and piles of banknotes to comment on the country’s economy hardship and censorship.

One might guess the Armory would bring a feminist edge, especially since the fair’s new director Nicole Berry comes after the former executive director Benjamin Genocchio stepped down after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced last year. But is female empowerment a theme at this year’s reveal?

” I believe that some of the artwork on view at this year’s fair is more a reflection on the constant realties of oppression and inequality experienced by women, and less a reflection on recent popular movements ,” said Berry.

But it isn’t just artists who use their voice, curators and gallerists can stand for alter, rather than just play it safe.

For an all-woman cast, head over to the Scope Art Fair, where one special group show is curated by Miami gallerist Anthony Spinello, who puts the focus on feminist artists living in Miami. On view will be the works of the Cuban artist Clara Varas and Colombian artist Nathalie Alfonso, among other young female artists.

The show is inspired by the early runs of the feminist art collective Guerrilla Girls- who trailblazed the museum world in the 1980 s with protests and statistics to show sexism in the art world- as well as the artworks by the activist artist Micol Hebron.

” As I have become more aware of the extreme imbalance in the representation of women artists within the gallery system, museum acquisitions and the art carnival marketplace, I have sought to shift the paradigm ,” said Spinello.

” I consider myself an ally and a feminist and will continue to create platforms for women-identified artists as well as underrepresented and underserved communities .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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