Satellite fairs widen their appeal

Our pick of events in New York this week, which embrace “African-ness”, Isamu Noguchi, live music and pet portraiture


As with Frieze New York, the primary focus at this week’s satellite fairs is on making sales and networking. But each also has a variety of talks, musical performances and art projects that differentiate it from the rest. Here is our round-up of events and stands to look out for this week.

Koyo Kouoh, the artistic director of Raw Material Company, a cultural centre in Dakar, Senegal, has organised a two-day symposium from 15-16 May for the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair. “It is not a school for contemporary African art, but rather a space for discussing art and how it relates to the wider notion and understanding of African-ness,” Kouoh says. Speakers include artists and curators. On 16 May, Melvin Edwards will discuss the history and legacy of New York galleries like Just Above Midtown, which closed in 1986 and Naima Keith, an associate curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem, is due to speak on a panel titled Global Black Subjectivities: Here and Now, 15 May.

At Art Miami New York (14-17 May), the non-profit organisation No Longer Empty, which arranges pop-up exhibitions in disused spaces, will have a themed booth organised by Tam Gryn. The stand, titled The Everywhere Exotic, includes work by artists who identify with multiple cultures. The show “deals with the outstanding impact immigration has on an individual’s nationalist identity”, Gryn says. “Migration has forced contemporary artists to interact with different cultures and this phenomenon has contributed to the most interesting artistic perspectives of our times.”

A project featuring work by the Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi will be presented at the Collective Design Fair(until 17 May). The project, organised by Dakin Hart, the senior curator at the Noguchi Museum in New York, includes a rock garden of stones collected by the artist from the Uji river in Kyoto, Japan, as well as steel, bronze and wood pieces fashioned to look like rocks. “Noguchi’s work is an awesomely capable and flexible language that thrives in rough environments,” Hart says. The installation is meant to “inspire a moment or two of reflection… outside time and space”.

Frieze frenzy has spread across the river to Harlem, where FLUX Art Fairtakes place in the newly rebuilt Corn Exchange building. With a focus on local Harlem artists, the participants were prompted to respond to the idea of the 21st century artist as nomad. Curators include artist, writer, and philanthropist Danny Simmons, New York Foundation for the Arts director David Terry, and No Longer Empty’s Manon Slome. Several of the artists come from the African diasporic tradition, presenting an interesting counterpart to 1:54, the Contemporary African Art Fair in Brooklyn. An off-site tour will take visitors to see the Harlem Hospital murals, which were the first major US government commissions for African American artists, done in 1936 as part of the New Deal’s WPA project.

Eric Ginsburg, the director of the Fridge Art Fair (14-17 May), is doing something altogether different: he is offering to paint portraits of visitors’ pets during the show. The paintings—which will range in cost from a few hundred dollars up to $1,200, depending on the size of the work—are part of an ongoing project that Ginsburg has been pursuing for more than 15 years. One of his earliest patrons was Sol LeWitt. “He saw one painting and started commissioning me to paint his friends’ pets,” Ginsburg says. Part of the proceeds will go to the Brooklyn Animal Rescue Coalition.

The organisers of the Nada (New Art Dealers Alliance) fair (14-17 May) are focusing on projects that involve multiple editions. They have commissioned a group of 18 media and post-internet artists, including Jon Rafman, Amalia Ulman and Chloe Wise, to create works of video, sound and internet art, which will be on sale online through the company Daata Editions. The project is the inaugural venture for the firm, which launches in time for the fair. Meanwhile, the fashion brand Print All Over Me is working with artists including Bjorn Copeland and Daniel Heidkamp to produce limited-edition merchandise.

The Salon Zürcher (until 17 May) will include a project organised by the Cathouse FUNeral gallery from Brooklyn. David Dixon, the gallery’s director, plans to recreate its spirit as a way of following the lead of Robert Smithson’s concept of the “non-site”. The project is called Harvestings and explores the idea that an “art object is not only a relic of a past action performed by an artist”, but also something that exists in the present. “Hence it has a dual life—one that is both here and there,” Dixon says. The show includes seven artists who have had solo shows at Cathouse FUNeral in its first two years.

A musical programme will have pride of place at the Sel ect Contemporary Art Fair(until 17 May). Among those due to perform are Lee Ranaldo, formerly of Sonic Youth, who will collaborate with Leah Singer on a performance that includes a film component (13 May). Brian Whitely, Select’s co-founder, says: “We would like our visitors to walk away with an honest art experience—something that happens too little at art fairs.”

Now in its fifth year, SEVEN fair takes anonymity and surveillance as its timely focus for the 2015 edition. Organised as a group exhibition rather than a series of booths, seven galleries each present work by one artist at the Boiler in Williamsburg. Metro Pictures will show photographs by Trevor Paglen, an artist long invested in the sinister nature of visuality and new technology. Bitforms gallery will show a sculpture by Addie Wagenknecht that intercepts and logs anonymous data from surrounding wifi signals. In addition to Katarzyna Kozyra’s hidden camera work from the 1990s, Postmaster gallery will present the anonymous and unsanctioned Edward Snowden bust, recently released from the custody of the NYPD after its confiscation from Fort Greene Park last month.