SCOPE Exhibition Recap
By Ashley Yu
Nestled in Chelsea, just off of 6th Avenue, stands the Metropolitan Pavilion. This is the site which SCOPE New York hosted their 19th edition of their acclaimed art fair over the weekend of March 7. Ranging from ornate wooden sculptures, to a neon green dryer made from metal car parts, and holographic portraits, contemporary art manifested itself in a myriad of ways throughout this year’s SCOPE.
From a layperson’s perspective, one of the more memorable artists was Dutch pop-surrealist artist Leon Keer. His vivid 3-Dimensional paintings were both aesthetically striking and painfully aware of the plights of our modern world. Keer criticises the disquieting injustices that have emerged in recent years, whose blows are softened by poppy colours and his ironic adaptation of kitschy product packaging. Keer’s Refugee Doll is a condemnation of the circumstances that created refugee children, particularly young Syrian refugees, arriving in our Western capitalist societies in a box similar to the packaging of Barbie dolls. Bright pink and covered in satirical advertising taglines, such as “X-Ray Scanned” and “Newly Arrived”, Keer’s Refugee Doll is highly representative of his playful incorporation of fine art and sardonic political commentary that stood apart from the seemingly homogenous mass of neon-coloured artwork.
SCOPE’s sculptural and multimedia installations also caught my eye. Melanie Prapopoulos’ surreal Victorian wash-basin, with a beautifully eerie projection of a woman in the mirror’s reflection, is an unexpected combination of antiques with modern holograms. Her interactive exhibition is a fascinating mediation on the historical continuity and eternal repetition of female rituals in quiet privacy. Meanwhile, Hans Van Bentem’s kaleidoscopic sculptures are tactile experimentations with glass-blowing techniques and carnivalesque detail. Van Bentem’s sculptures ranges from the erotically playful, featuring a cherub riding a large penis made from porcelain china, to his relatively more political work of a hanging brown monkey, whose balloon-animal limbs are connected with chains, as an undeniable allusion to racial violence inflicted upon the black body.
Another striking artist is that of AICAN’s work who introduced artificial intelligence to the realm of fine art. In his conversation with Musée Magazine on our latest issue, not only does the artist predict the potential quagmires of this, but he has also complicated the relation between fine art and rapid technological developments. Reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s portraits, AICAN’s Alternative Facts: The Multi Faces of Untruth is an introspective on the duplicity of facts and reality, warped by numerous media outlets and political turmoil.
Featuring 60 international artists in the Metropolitan Pavilion, this year’s SCOPE brimmed with an overwhelming amount of artwork that was emblematic of our current society while also evoking political discussion that is so often entangled and expressed in contemporary art.