If, like me, you find the full-tilt art fairs a little overwhelming, the formally ambitious but modestly scaled Independent is a godsend. With just 54 exhibits, many of them solo presentations, arranged over four spacious floors at Spring Studios in TriBeCa, it’s like a leisurely all-star game: It’s not exactly representative of the year in art, perhaps, but it feels as if it ought to be.
I was particularly curious about the work of Tomashi Jackson, not least because of her choice of materials—paper bags, cheap netting, even a Jon Ossoff palm card. It transpired that, in 2014 or thereabouts, Jackson read Josef Albers’s Interaction of Color at the same time as she was reading Brown v. Board of Education: A Documentary History by Mark Whitman. Here’s something of what she had to say:
Though most of the cases [Thurgood] Marshall worked on in the 1940s and 1950s were collegiate, the Brown cases focused on primary schools. The documents are filled with paranoid rhetoric defending the separation of “colored” people from “white” people at all costs. . . . I recognized terms about how “colors” interact from Albers’s text: colored, boundaries, movement, transparency, mixture, purity, restriction, deception, memory, transformation, instrumentation, systems, recognition, psychic effect, placement, quality, and value. The language around de jure segregation is similar to Albers’s description of the wrong way to perceive color, as if color is static. Marshall and Albers concluded that color is relative, and what a viewer perceives a color to be is determined by the color nearest to it. [citation]
The labeling on the slideshow photographs is often only the artist’s name, but at least that allows for looking up more if you’re intrigued.
To see more photographs of works at the fair, click here.
I was reminded recently how modern Debussy was:
As a sulky Paris Conservatoire student in the 1870s, Debussy had been apprenticed to a tradition in which all the great questions of form and content had been decided at least a century earlier. The boy’s job, as his masters saw it, was to absorb these inherited templates, add his five sous-worth of fancy, before handing them on duly refreshed to the next generation of nimble-fingered prodigies. Debussy, instead, aimed to do nothing less than rebuild music from the bottom up or perhaps, more accurately, from the inside out. He would produce sequences of what he called “colours and rhythmicised time” that expressed his inner vision, rather than ready-made sounds to be crammed into some pre-arranged shape. Form would follow content, even if that meant that the form had no beginning or end, no climax or lull, but instead appeared as an uninterrupted weave held together by its own dense internal logic. [citation]
Claude Debussy Syrinx (1913)
Syrinx has been hailed as the first significant piece for solo flute since the Sonata in A minor composed by C.P.E. Bach 150 years before, and is the first solo composition since Böhm perfected his flute in 1847. Many musical historians believe that Syrinx played a pivotal role in the development of solo flute music in the early twentieth century. [citation]
Credits: Sources for the quotations may be found at the links in the text. The photographs, as always on the blog unless indicated otherwise, are mine.