Jane Champions

Kate Sutton around the Independent and Dependent fairs

Left: Chloë Sevigny (left). Right: Julie Boukobza and curator Nicolas Trembley.

ON WEDNESDAY EVENING, I followed the opening of the Armory Show with a dinner for Bidoun Projects. The event took over a sumptuous SoHo loft in the New Museum building on Mercer and boasted an ecumenical host committee that included Shirin Neshat, Leila Taghinia-Milani Heller, Jimmy Traboulsi, Maria Baibakova, and Chelsea Clinton. “Bidoun’s such an amazing project,” Clinton explained. “Besides, I would support anything Negar [Azimi] does.”

The festivities kicked off with a benefit auction, during which guests like Michael Stipe, RoseLee Goldberg, Cay Sophie Rabinowitz, and Jay Jopling could snap up works by artists Yto Barrada, Walid Raad, and Haris Epaminonda. In keeping with the upscale atmosphere, the bidding began politely enough but picked up when Tony Shafrazi dove in for a piece by Lawrence Weiner. Those not participating could be found scouting for second helpings of the homemade hummus and spinach triangles, which had been made based on cohost Dana Farouki’s grandmother’s recipes.

A friend and I paused to ponder whether mochi balls were party-appropriate, texture-wise, before we followed Stipe and dealer Alex Zachary on the migration to the Metro Pictures/Sprüth Magers afterparty at the Jane hotel. There the evening progressed in predictable fashion—lost coats, misplaced purses, disappearing drinks, and a dependable mix of ’80s/oldies kitsch on a dance floor that included artists Cyprien Gaillard and Aaron Bondaroff and dealer Frédéric Bugada. I started to quiz Hotel Gallery’s Darren Flook about his thoughts on the next day’s launch of the art fair Independent, but our attempt at small talk ceded to a Hall & Oates song.

Left: Jochen Meyer and Thomas Riegger of Meyer Riegger. Right: Aurime and Jonas Zakaitis of Tulips & Roses. (Photos: Irina Rozovsky)

There’s no denying that Independent is casting formidable weight for a sophomore fair. This year there was less exposed brick (Maureen Paley managed to pull off another show-stopping booth, claiming one of the walls for a massive David Salle) and a cleaner feel, no doubt heightened by the presence of galleries like Sprüth Magers, Stuart Shave/Modern Art, Bortolami, and Gavin Brown. It all gave the impression of a much older fair. “There’s always a car sculpture, isn’t there?” artist Peter Coffin remarked, reminiscing about Duncan Campbell’s DeLorean project last year for Artists Space, before the absurdity of the word “always” sunk in.

The opening was listed as starting at 4 PM; I snuck in at 2, only to find the place had been bustling since noon, making me reexamine Jeppe Hein’s neon aphorism—“Why are you here and not somewhere else?”—crowning Johann König’s booth. The VIPish crowd seemed relaxed in the open format, and clusters formed around the John Smith videos at the area shared by Tanya Leighton and Wallspace and Eftihis Patsourakis’s collection of hijacked Athenian welcome mats at Rodeo.

I vowed to return again the next day, then ducked into Tara Donovan’s opening at Pace before skipping down to Phillips de Pury for the Three Sixty Bespoke “Fizzy Water” panel, where artists Conrad Shawcross, Laurent Grasso, and Samuel Boutruche debated the state of sculpture with Simon de Pury and Zabludowicz curator Elizabeth Neilson. As I wandered the galleries before the talk, a particularly ghoulish mash-up of Michael Jackson and Andy Warhol’s Marilyn led the conversation (naturally) to Charlie Sheen’s Twitter account. “I have to follow that when I get home,” a friend mused, before fishing out her iPhone: “Or now.”

Left: Cleopatra's Kate McNamara and Bridget Finn. Right: Playing Uno at Recess. (Photos: Kate Sutton)

I was still blessedly oblivious to the “tiger blood” jokes; the pop-cultural reference munching would have to wait until after Armory week. After a quick pit stop for some Korean BBQ with Zurich-based Karma International, I jumped into a cab to catch the tail end of Independent’s afterparty at the Jane, where a snippy girl packing a clipboard greeted everyone with a shrill, “If you’re here for the Independent, your party ended at 11 PM. You’re late. Good night.” “She’s going to go down for turning away the Rubells,” someone muttered, before I managed to smuggle myself in with some returning smokers. Once inside, a true friend shoved a stack of drink tickets in my hand with the directive: “Catch up.”

I had flirted with the idea of stepping out earlier to Le Baron’s party at the Standard, but those who had already made the trip warned me that the soiree was “so corporate.” Yet once I was under the black light of Le Bain, the Standard’s penthouse disco retreat, the only thing that struck me as particularly “corporate” was how many people had apparently had their teeth whitened for the fair. I had been curious to catch artist Xavier Veilhan DJing, but by the time we arrived the deck had been handed over to artist Nate Lowman. The dim atmosphere made it difficult to recognize anyone else at the party, but as I surveyed the shapes on the dance floor it occurred to me that recognition was probably the last thing anyone was angling for.

The true sign of Independent’s power (besides its Rob Pruitt Award) is the fact that it has already inspired its own hip alternative: the Dependent, a four-hour-long, flash mob–style fair in the Chelsea Sheraton, which on Friday evening gave its sixteen participating galleries and artist collectives an hour to install in the hotel’s twelfth and fourteenth floors (no thirteenth floor in this building, which led to some confusion in the stairwell where Empty Room had set up its space). Unlike hotel fairs in Miami, where dealers have time to clear out the furniture, the strict one-hour limit on installation meant that video works were displayed on in-room flatscreens, posters sticky-tacked to walls, and paintings propped against pillows. In each room, bathtubs brimmed with hotel ice and PBR, and everyone made the most of it.

Left: Rachel Barrett (left) and artist Conrad Shawcross (center). Right: Front Desk Apparatus's Rob Teeters with artist Nik Gambaroff. (Photos: Kate Sutton)

“It’s a lot like the Gramercy Art Fair, isn’t it?” a silver-ponytailed patron mused as he fingered an unstretched canvas draped lazily over an armchair. “Yeah, people keep saying that, but I wouldn’t know,” the dealer sighed, adjusting his thick, black-framed spectacles. “That was a little, you know, before my time.”

While the fair wasn’t all child’s play—Specific Object boasted works by Mike Kelley, Dan Graham, and Raymond Pettibon—it certainly evinced a younger, DIY dynamism. Recess featured a live feed from the bathroom, where a visitor was receiving an impromptu haircut under blue light. Meanwhile, two girls perched on the bed playing Uno. “We have Scrabble too, if that’s more your thing,” one shrugged, nodding toward the box on the nightstand. Across the hall, Dispatch was less slumber party and more dive bar, with flashing red lights, electric guitars, and empty Doritos bags littering the bedspread.

Judging by the line of tote bags and stocking caps outside the Sheraton, the Dependent’s festivities were only just beginning. But I had wanted to drop in on newly Lower East Siders Klaus von Nichtssagend for Joy Curtis’s opening before embarking on what was sure to be a long evening on King Street. There, Front Desk Apparatus was hosting the New York debut of Balice Hertling & Lewis, a collaboration between the Belleville staple and writer David Lewis. The crowds at FDA were polite enough to make space so we could appreciate works by Nik Gambaroff, DAS INSTITUT, and Falke Pisano, to name a few. “This is the first time I’ve ever knocked over a sculpture,” a London dealer confessed, mortified. “Thankfully, it was bronze, so it barely budged. But still . . . ”

Around 7:30 PM, host Rob Teeters resorted to flicking the lights. “Not too subtle, is it?” he smiled apologetically. But they were on a schedule—the gallery still had a performance by Viola Yesiltac slated at the legendary Stonewall Inn, a brisk ten-minute walk from the space. Attendees formed a clump outside Front Desk, shifting from one foot to the other and bumming cigarettes, clearly uncertain how to get there. “Those poor children,” my friend clucked. “I don’t think they know how to find a party that’s not at the Jane or the Standard.”

Left: Dealer Mike Egan at Dependent. Right: Collector Maria Baibakova with Performa founder RoseLee Goldberg. (Photos: Kate Sutton)

But find it they did—along with what felt like hundreds of others. Upstairs at the Stonewall, artists Amy Sillman, Sadie Benning, Klara Lidén, K8 Hardy, and Kerstin Brätsch flocked with dealers Pamela Echeverria and John Kelsey to the open bar and slider buffet. There was very little space for dancing, but heads bobbed approvingly as DJ Iceberg Venus X continued to astound.

From there, the party veered south to the Financial District, where Studio Voltaire, White Columns, Herald St., and the Modern Institute were holding their own bash at the sleaze-and-tease hot spot China Chalet. Having thoroughly enjoyed the ride over—a combination of extensive construction detours, some rowdy French passengers, and quite possibly the world’s most tolerant cab driver—I couldn’t imagine the party topping the taxi. That is, until Chloë Sevigny got out of the cab in front of us. “It’s got to be a good party if Chloë’s here,” my companion reassured me, perhaps jokingly. He took my hand and led me up the stairs to the dance floor, where Nick Relph, Klaus Biesenbach, and Johann König let loose while Matthew Higgs manned the DJ booth. It would have been the perfect end to Armory week, until I remembered there was still Saturday’s opening for Rirkrit Tiravanija at Gavin Brown to go. And then there was the matter of that stash of drink tickets for the Jane in my bag.

Left: Simone Battisti of Bortolami Gallery. Right: Dealers Anton Kern (center) and Christoph Gerozissis (right). (Photos: Irina Rozovsky)

Left: Dealers Tony Shafrazi and Jay Jopling. Right: Bidoun editor Negar Azimi and Chelsea Clinton. (Photos: Kate Sutton)

Left: Dealers Jessie Washburne-Harris and Martin Klosterfelde. (Photo: Andy Guzzonatto) Right: Dealer Jan Mot (right). (Photo: Irina Rozovsky)

Left: Dealer Emma Robertson and Jake Miller of the Approach. Right: Dealer Hudson of Feature. (Photos: Irina Rozovksy)

Left: A dog at Independent. (Photo: Irina Rozovksy) Right: Artist Joy Curtis and dealer Sam Wilson of Klaus von Nichtssagend. (Photo: Kate Sutton)

Left: The crowd at Stonewall. (Photo: Kate Sutton) Right: White Columns director Matthew Higgs with artist Nick Relph. (Photo: David Velasco)

Left: Joe Winter at Dependent. (Photo: Kate Sutton) Right: Artists Matt Keegan and Ricky Swallow. (Photo: Andy Guzzonatto)

Left: Dealer Maureen Paley. Right: Artists Space director Stefan Kalmar with artist Leigh Ledare. (Photos: Irina Rozovksy)

Left: Dealers Alexander Hertling and Daniele Balice. (Photo: Irina Rozovsky) Right: Artist Viola Yesiltac. (Photo: Kate Sutton)

Left: Independent founders Elizabeth Dee and Jayne Drost. Right: Dealers Jane Hait, Tanya Leighton, and Janine Foeller. (Photos: Irina Rozovsky)