May 10, 2016

"Instruction From the Sky" @ FRIEZE New York

I confess, one of my favorite things about art fairs, especially contemporary art fairs, is checking out the outfits worn by the other fair-goers.  Some, of course, are truly stylish and elegant, but many attendees seem to have a special wardrobe of "art fair clothes" that are more costumes than street wear.

So last Wednesday, when I arrived at the preview opening of FRIEZE New York, held under an enormous serpentine tent on Randall's Island, and was confronted by a group of young women looking like they had arrived from outer space I thought "Oh brother - this time they've really gone too far"!

It wasn't until later that I realized that these grey clad Teletubbies were actually part of a performance piece called "Instruction from the Sky" by Edouardo Navarro.  Born in Buenos Aires in 1979, Mr. Navarro has been working as a sculptor, performance and installation artist since 2002.  Much of his work is New Age in feel with elements of science, medicine, archaeology and a healthy dose of spirituality in the mix.

"Instruction from the Sky" is a meditative piece intended to offer alternative ways of seeing and experiencing the world.  Each performer wears a circular mirror "skirt" and "hat" that reflects the sky and the passing clouds. The unpredictability of the movement of the clouds informs the performers' own motions so that they, in effect, are traveling in sync with the sky.

I am sure that this sounds a little "out there" but in fact it was not only beautiful but mesmerizing.  On closer examination, the odd looking outfits were reminiscent of some of the very earliest performance pieces - an updated version of the Bauhaus dances choreographed by Oskar Schlemmer, Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky.

The moral of this story is, sometimes a costume really is a costume, and I have to remember to always keep an open mind!  These six women performed a serious and captivating expression of modern art, as beautiful as any ballet, and I was thrilled to have witnessed it!

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