As the 2011 New York Armory Show braces for the art and creative frenzy to flock to the city; studios, museums and galleries are gearing up for an increase in well-heeled foot traffic. Buyers, critics and enthusiasts should investigate what is sure to be one of the most unsettling shows likely to hit town: Involuntary (opening March 2) at the recently opened, fordPROJECT. The exclusive vernissage kicks off The Armory Fair’s VIP program and is invite-only—so expect the art glitterati to attend in full force.
Curated by the reputable Neville Wakefield, Involuntary, presents a series of works that respond to the history of the penthouse space occupied by fordPROJECT. Wakefield claims he was inspired by 57 West 57th Street’s sadistic and disquieting past when it came to curate the show. And it’s a space with quite the intriguing tale to tell: Legends and events range from sexual infatuation to violence, murder and even paranormal activity.
One piece titled, “Wish you were here,” by artist Scott Campbell, is a tombstone positioned on the 19th floor terrace near the parapet wall over which Edna Crawford Champion’s lover, Charles Brazelle, was thrown to his death by bodyguards after he bludgeoned her with a telephone. How cheery!
Another curious creation, Michael Sailstorfer’s Reactor, is a sound art installation with a speaker attached to a microphone that has been embedded in concrete. The speaker will record the sonic imprint of the building (allegedly haunted since the murders) and its psychic resonance.
In the photo department, are eerie photographic portraits by Miranda Lichtenstein, which depict various states of emotional extremis; and works by Naama Tsabar that bring into play the intoxications that accompanied the catastrophic “playground of sex and drugs that Champion and Brazelle created.”
Wakefield and fordPROJECT will also bring performance art into the mix, with Eloise Fornieles’ portrayal of the apparent dementia and meltdown that befell the subsequent owners of the space on 57 West 57th Street.
“Sex, violence and a certain kind of excess are written into the fabric of the building and the exhibition is a reflection of that innate story,” said a statement from fordPROJECT. Other works catering to these themes include: intensely erotic films of desire and glut by Mike Bouchet; a battering ram purposely suspended from the gallery ceiling, which marks the destruction of barriers between public and private; and a series of forensically-photographed, intimate self-portraits by Olympia Scarry capturing involuntary acts (such as yawning) that are peculiarly sexualized.
Neville Wakefield most recently curated MoMA PS1’s Greater New York (2010) show and Matthew Barney’s major exhibition at the Schaulager. He has served as the senior curatorial advisor for MoMA PS1 and as curator of Frieze Projects at the illustrious Frieze Art Fair in London. Neville currently contributes to publications such as ArtForum and W Magazine.
fordPROJECT launched in January 2011 as an exclusive gallery space designed for site-specific installations, exhibitions, artist commissions, art collectives, curatorial programs, collaborative initiatives, unique events and more. Under the direction of Rachel Vancelette and Tim Goossens, fordPROJECT seeks to present a distinctive alternative to the traditional fine art models and will offer innovation for artists, curators, collectors, organizations, institutions and estates.
A special VIP viewing and brunch with the curator, will take place on March 4 in association with The Armory Show. Involuntary will run through April 15.