The Armory: Better With the Internet

March 12, 2014 | Marina Galperina

The Armory Show came and went with its hundreds of galleries. There was no Playoff Bracket. No one won an MVBooth Award. Sometimes, there is just no unified curatorial arch or higher implications in the motifs of a pile of stuff. Well, there are niche market trends. This year’s focus was on hot-shit galleries from China. (China is very hot right now.) But looking at the hollow, carved eyes of Cajsa von Zeipel’s sculptures, I regained an appreciation for physical displacement and the internet. Also, strippers, Seinfeld, war, death, anger, futility and Google image search.

So, you got these objects insisting on recognition from every corner of the maze, and then — contorted schoolgirls. Rave shoes, ponytails, styrofoam, plaster, tongues, SPRANG BRAKE, legs spread as if Terry Richardson just asked for more taint. That’s not particularly deep, but you’re not meant to view them in a white cubicle crowded with other crap and people pretending not to look at tits. Look at Seconds in Ecstasy, an installation at the Konstakademien from 2010, flooded with pink light from the tinted windows. Look at this stripper.

There’s a video. Yes, she twirls. It’s kitsch surrounded by the other kind of kitsch — iconic sculptures bulging with hard man flesh and ultra-specific proportions of Rubenesque. And as her high-heeled shoe rotates past the heaving breasts of a beheaded Winged Victory of Samothrace, maybe you start thinking “Did I pass that aisle already?” “Well, that coffee is expensive!” about strip clubs, the fashion industry, the Greeks’ worship of form, the perpetual fascism of body image, subversion, agency, aggression, sexual commerce, and some fancy aesthetics shit, yeah? Isn’t it absurd how we garland a relic with fan fiction of feminism when Victory’s true fetish is religion and war and stuff? She’s missing her head, for fuck’s sake!


As every other Fair every year, there were some neon Tracey Emins marming on about love. There were no shiny giant Jeff Koonses, but plenty things that sort of look like them. And, of course…

…a gregariously priced, oversized, old media merch by Marina Abramović™ — The Scream, a print. Remember the 1974? (No. This is a link the Wikipedia description of Abramović’s Rhythm 0).

“Excuse me, how much is the print? I’m curious,” I ask.
“It’s $__,____ Euros,” the gallerist says.
“How much is that in dollars?”
“Marina only sells in Euros.”
“But how much is it in dollars?”
“… $110,000. Approximately.”
“Does she take bitcoin?”

This Photoshop is also a classic and free.

The focus on Chinese galleries was mostly a rushed and lackluster clutter.

The Times gushed:

Another engaging presentation can be seen at the booth of Gallery Exit, from Hong Kong, where two Roombas, the robot vacuum cleaners that resemble overgrown smoke detectors, roam a space littered with spiky concrete balls: enlarged castings of dust particles. The installation, made by Nadim Abbas, is meant to underscore parallels between the development of militaristic technologies and their domestic extensions, bringing the war home in an absurdist, Jetsons-y dance.

It was a cubicle with two Roombas. One of them was stuck. But speaking of off-white references to autonomously kinetic modern weapons, until last January, Afghan designer Massoud Hassani’s Mine Kafon was on view with “Applied Design” at the MoMA. In 2012, it was a Kickstarter. Watch it roll through the desert like a Theo Jansen tumbleweed à la Home Depot. It actually blows up actual bombs.

I want to like the concept of Nadim Abbas’s Roombas thing — he’s alright — but this particular allegory is boring. Kudos for trying to inject some “war” into what is largely consumer couture. (This trend of sensitivity to the subtlety of intuitively juxtaposed/modified products makes me embarrassingly angry.) (It’s not for everybody.)

Neither are internet-sourced works like Josh Bricker’s Post Newtonianism (2012), the WikiLeaks “Collateral Murder” video remixed with Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare. It’s gameplay and video/audio of soldiers gunning down Reuters journalists in a public square in Baghdad from an Apache helicopter. It’s snuff. (It’s not for everybody.)

We’d just reported the Alex Schweder and Ward Shelley hamster-wheel-apartment installation at Pierogi’s Boiler, the kind of fun stuff that earns a quirky coo from BBC omitting the entire history of Performance Architecture. I like this gallery.

They’re one of the booths that seem to have brought out all their artists, even the Patrick Jacobs’s optic nature peepholes, again. There were also two of Jim Torok’s crucified Jesuses, and a diptych from John O’Connor for Beyoncé, but back to them in a minute.


Caught on the stumble out: Richard Prince, my second-favorite troll with Jerry’s Girl, a digital pigment print composite of all 57 of Jerry Seinfeld girlfriends from Seinfeld, an edition of 57.

I prefer Chris Habib’s Kramer entering Seinfeld’s apartment over and over through datamosh and the dried thermal paste of a corrupt DiVo output.

I don’t remember where I saw this John Giorno, but fuck your t-shirt in screenprint on canvas drag.

What happened, man? You were cool. (John Giorno is on the right and on Keith Haring.)

I’m sorry. My head is not right.

I’m so tired and confused.

I am slipping.

Off to Postmasters. They brought out all their artists too, including William Powhida.

I like his work. I like his writing. I can’t write about this here anymore. Like the experience of the fair, this has become dissociate neurosis wrapped into an identity crisis smothered under a giant weight and don’t know how you people do it.

We’re going to your opening on Saturday, Powhida.

Last stop, back at Pierogi. I remember watching visitors tear apart Andrew Ohanesian’s accurate replica of a suburban house installation mid-house party, then, deconstructing his preparation and installation process with him. Last year, he installed a urinal into the side of the wall, breaking the suspension of belief when the gallery clarified that one shouldn’t piss into the sculpture to activate it. This year, there was a paper towel dispenser. On the corner over, there was this vending machine slot, cemented into the wall. It takes your money and gives it to the artist, the gallerist assured.

“Remind yourself that there are worse things to spend money on.” It’s going to be ok. Thank God it’s over. See you next year. (Photos: Marina Galperina/ANIMALNewYork)