5 Must-See Booths at Independent New York, From Vietnam Protest Photos to a Racy Film Inspired by Yayoi Kusama
Despite the recent boom of all things digital, Independent is a highly analog affair.
May 12, 2023
by Richard Whiddington
Despite the line out the door to Tribeca’s Spring Studios yesterday, there was a murmur that Independent New York isn’t quite what it used to be. The chatter surrounded the question of whether the invite-only alternative to New York’s mega art spectacles of Frieze and the Armory Show has lost its luster. Visitor comparisons to the Independent’s pre-pandemic status abounded, but the jury is still out.
The crowd was more low-maintenance than haute-couture, though Valentino’s viva magenta was flashing on all sides, and on the roof the wares of jewelry designers faced off against pastries after the VIP breakfast concluded. Spring Studios remains a discombobulating maze, where wrong turns lead to sudden lounges and endless white hallways.
But change is inevitable for a fair now in its 14th edition. Among the 69 presentations from galleries and nonprofit organizations hand-picked by the fair, there are indeed some gems. New this year is Independent Editions (not the NFT kind) that sees the likes of the Paris Review, Cal Arts, and Texte Zur Kunst offering retro prints.
In the lead up to the fair, which runs from May 11 to 14, co-founder Elizabeth Dee stressed that it emphasizes “the next generations of rising galleries.” If so, the future is decidedly analog: a set of neon signs, a television—that’s about as high-voltage as Independent gets. In this moment of soaring digital art, there’s hope for painters yet.
Here are five booths that stood out.
D’Angelo Lovell Williams is a photographer striving to reframe black queer bodies and—at the age of 30, with a monograph published by MACK and work in the collections of the Whitney, the Tate Modern, and LACMA—they’re right on track. In the artist’s first solo showing at an art fair, Higher Pictures displays Williams’ characteristic portraits of friends and lovers that veer from the immaculately staged to the seemingly spontaneous. New here is a collection of Williams’ weavings, one of which casts them in childhood in the embrace of their grandmother and stands in solemn juxtaposition with the neighboring photograph of them standing before her open casket.