With the New York art world having seemingly concluded that the pandemic is now in a more manageable stage, the Armory Show returned to town this past week, largely maskless and in a maximalist mood. While the 2021 version of the fair (report here) was quite a bit more subdued and tentative in its inaugural outing at the massive Javits Center (with many fewer international galleries in attendance, given the uncertainties of that moment in time), this year’s fair was both bustling and seemingly endless, the 250+ booths and installations filling aisle after aisle (after aisle). While several of the mega galleries opted out, the large and mid size realms were well populated, with plenty of smaller galleries and collectives represented in the booths in the clusters near the corners of the convention center.
As we have found again and again at contemporary art fairs like this one, the photography to be discovered at this year’s Armory Show was generally thin on the ground, with most of what was presented leaning toward the very most contemporary work, much of it made in the last year or two. Sprinkled in here and there were a handful of re-emergent works from the past, as well as a somewhat broader representation of Black and Indigenous photographers. But the raw numbers don’t lie – that I only came up with some 25 intriguing photographs to feature below, out of the entire spaciously sprawling mass of art on view, tells us something about where photography fits in the post-pandemic contemporary art mindset and what gallerists think they can sell right now.
The slideshow below covers what caught my attention in the various booths, and as usual, the individual images are accompanied by linked gallery names, artist/photographer names, and prices where appropriate, along with further description and analysis:
Higher Pictures Generation (here): This booth was a solo presentation of the work of Nona Faustine and her powerful project White Shoes. I first came across Faustine’s work back in 2016 (reviewed here), and in the years since, its momentum and resonance has only continued to accelerate. These prints are now larger (and thereby more imposing), and seen hung together nearly edge to edge in a small booth, they offer a soberingly insistent reclamation of overlooked Black histories.