Video installation at Dependent, 3rd floor gallery space, 2012.
Dependent (adjective): 1. contingent on or determined by. 2. requiring someone or something for financial, emotional, or other support 3. unable to do without
On view at the Comfort Inn located at 136 Ludlow Street, in New York’s Lower East Side neighborhood, from noon-8pm on Saturday, March 10th, 2012 was The Dependent Art Fair, in it’s second year. The fair, obviously the antithesis of Independent which also took place during Armory Week, presents the most unruly of the bunch and wears its title proudly. All of the galleries represented feature young and emergent artists but are also working impressively to establish their own voice within the large amount of exhibition spaces in NY. Yes, the rooms of the Dependent, only house local, New York galleries and most are located in the Lower East Side or in Brooklyn. The fair takes itself quite seriously, but also isn’t afraid to party. When I arrived, the narrow hallways of the Comfort Inn were swelling with hipster visitors, clad mostly in black, the occasional unnatural splash of brightly highlighted hair, sipping whisky, whose origin I never discovered. The warmth of so many bodies and low ceilings was a sharp contrast to the coolness outside and I quickly felt a thin bead of sweat roll down the center of my back as I weaved in between the bodies and into the small hotel rooms, each transformed into a temporary gallery.

Regina Rex, located at 17-17 Troutman Street on the border of Queens and Bushwick, is a fast-growing local favorite. The artist run space isn’t always willing to play it safe and have already shown that the artists they exhibit are both intuitive decision makers and not afraid to step outside the box. For their room at Dependent, they decided to show the work of Dave Hardy whose current exhibition is on view at the gallery until April 8th, 2012. Hardy chose to install sculptures, which just so happen to utilize foam mattresses and glass. The result, seen right, is both an unstable bunk bed and an object that even at it’s greatest attempt to be symbiotic in the space, obviously doesn’t belong. The work, an interesting choice for this fair, was refreshing in its honesty. In the compact rooms of the Comfort Inn, galleries had two decisions, one was to work with the decor, and the other was to work against it. This piece allows the viewer to make the decision as to which is which.

Next up was Soloway, located in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. The gallery was founded in 2010 and has had some interesting exhibitions. Their room carried a great energy and  was a nice addition to Dependent, 2012. Run by four young, hip artists, the gallery, one of the gallerists was sprawled out on the hotel bed, laying on his side, while one of his partners spoke to the passersby. Centered and tiled in the middle of the bed was a monitor and screen, looping video. In the bathroom, a bubble machine and black light. The contrast was entertaining and the photograph on the left, poignant and naturalistic fit the realm of the room, giving a microscopic hint towards Williamsburg by the small shape shaved into the subjects head, a subtle almost tribal marking.

Foxy Production chose to show a video and several photographs by artist Michael Bell-Smith. The gallery, the only one representing Chelsea at Dependent, had a relaxing vibe. Bell-Smith’s video was also accompanied by a sound track although they were two separate pieces. The video, a short looped animated wonderland and throw back to low-fi graphics features a hand that moves into and out of the imaginative space, briefly interacting with the swirling and loopy nondescript elements.  Image: Michael Bell-Smith, Untitled (Magic Hands), 2012, HD video, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and Foxy Production, New York.

Ramiken Crucible is a gallery located in New York’s Lower East Side neighborhood. Utilizing the bed in the center portion of the room, Romanian, New York based artist Andra Ursuta made an installation of what appear to be painted, sculptural posteriors. The works exist somewhere between functional stools (pun intended) and a congregation of individuals. The black, wooden legs sink into the bed under the weight of the sculpture, giving the blanketed surface a purpose rather than just being an incidental object in a hotel room. The strange forms reference everything from Mickey Mouse to painted backsides with what could be genitalia.

The Dependent Art Fair , was a crash course in the simmering, ever evolving underbelly of the New York art world. The show took place on March 10th, 2012, from Noon-8:00 PM. Sometimes after seeing so much gloss, its good to be reminded about the artists who make the work and the grit involved. Stay tuned for the next Dependent Art Fair and if lucky, you may have the chance to get your hands a bit dirty.

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