The eleventh iteration of Independent Art Fair opens tomorrow in New York. Through March 8 at Spring Studios, the fair welcomes 60 galleries and over 40 solo and duo exhibitions. Special for the fair, as well, are a number of galleries who have commissioned solo and duo presentations of artists who are showing work in parallel with museum shows and international biennials.
This year’s edition also features a spotlight on self-taught artists, indigenous artists, and social activism, and it’s showing 11 unique exhibitions by women of color who discuss the geo-politics of the African diaspora in various international locations.
Whitewall spoke with the fair’s Founder and CEO, Elizabeth Dee, about this year’s dynamic fair and what’s not to miss while there.
WHITEWALL: Can you give us a few of your highlights for this year’s iteration of Independent?
ELIZABETH DEE: 1970s drawings never seen in the United States from Simona Runcan will be a true discovery for Independent visitors. I’m also curious to see what Jessie Homer French’s work looks like in the flesh from Various Small Fires (VSF). The images are looking incredible.
Akeem Smith from Red Bull Arts is going to be an up-and-coming name you’ll hear more this year; he’s working onsite and from an archive of images from his native Jamaica and the dancehall culture of the island. And Leigh Ruple from Page (NYC), Candida Alverez from Monique Meloche Gallery, and Andrew Greene from Modern Institute—of which I’m seeing some obsessed collectors very much in anticipation of the new work.
WW: Of the galleries that have commissioned solo and duo presentations of artists showing work in junction with museum shows and international biennials, is there one in particular that you feel is a must-see?
ED: Carlos Villa is a standout star of the Singapore Bienniale which is on [view at] Anglim Gilbert Gallery, San Francisco. Two museum shows you can see right now and at Independent are: Daria Grantina showing at the moment at New Museum in a first U.S. solo; and Sharyar Nashat who’s exhibiting at MoMA through March 8. Additionally, Beau Dick showing with Farzakas in Vancouver passed on before he could show his work at Documenta, so we will be showing that work for the first time at Independent.
WW: Some exhibitions were also specifically commissioned for Independent. Can you tell us about a commissioned work or installation that you’re particularly excited about?
ED: All of the 40-plus shows are really commissioned by the participants and I’ve had a chance to see the Awol Erizku work in progress that will be presented by Night Gallery, Hillary Pecis will be a standout with Rachel Uffner Gallery.
WW: This year, the fair is showing 11 exhibitions by artists of color who are discussing the geo-politics of the African diaspora, with perspectives from European, British, American, and Brazilian artists. Why do you feel this theme is so important to share right now?
ED: I think that we are catching up and rectifying some very big omissions in the cannon, with museums leading this mandate, and this had been a wonderful renaissance that we’re seeing happen here and globally.
WW: The fair is also spotlighting self-taught artists. What’s one of the self-taught artists that’s presenting that’s not-to-miss?
ED: Bruno S at Delmes & Zander—a Holocaust survivor and protagonist in Werner Hertzog’s films. The work is deep and psychologically arresting.