The stARTup Art Fair premiered from May 1-3 at the Hotel del Sol, a 1950s-style motor lodge in the Marina District of San Francisco. With an aim to showcase underrepresented artists, the fair featured 50 solo exhibitions and over 60 artists working in various disciplines of visual arts.
Over the weekend, artists, curators, gallerists and other art enthusiasts were given a space to converge. Conversations took place in intimate room settings, and artists were given an opportunity to directly represent their work. The exhibitors were conscious of the “passage” into the room, positioning pieces on the walls, on the bed and in the bathroom in accordance to a distinct theme. Some integrated the room into the narratives they wanted to tell with their art, transforming the art space into the art itself.
The stARTup Art Fair was focused on creating and manipulating space. Space was made for a diversity of methods and materials to be juxtaposed against each other. Space was expanded, as perceptions and norms were questioned. Space was utilized both as part of the installation and as a form of expression.
For viewers going from room to room, the diversity of thought-provoking methods and materials tantalized their senses. David Gista paints images on floppy disks as a symbol of memory. The unevenness of the surfaces, the dual-color scheme of the images and his disorderly positioning of the disks speak to how our memories are often fragmented and how our minds remember only a few colors that stand out in a scene. He also creates work using the blowtorch, and the series “New Burnt Paper” is part of that attempt to capture the blurred uneven yet smooth quality of paper burns.
Mitra Fabian creates sculptures from resistors and capacitors in a bid to re-define these hardware objects and bring out their aesthetic elements. Her pieces are meticulous, and she takes pains to bring out gradients and flat surfaces by controlling the depth of the resistors and capacitors in the clay model.
Someguy’s (a.k.a. Brian Singer’s) “The Meaning of Words” series provokes thought. “212 Slaves” is one of the pieces in this series and has Singer blacking out every word except the 212 “niggers” in Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” This was in response to the re-release of the book with the word “nigger” replaced with “slave,” and Singer questions whether we are re-crafting the history of our society by censoring thoughts of the past.
Joshua Nissen King brings out the theme of his series “Debris” through effective use of space. His pieces are placed in a disorderly fashion around the room, and balls of lights, cotton and other objects strewn about create havoc on the bed. The enclosure he creates for viewers strengthens the theme of one being trapped in one’s own fragmented memory and thoughts.
Making space for independent artists and for conversations between viewers and artists is an important part of using art to embrace diversity and thoughts. In its inaugural year, the stARTup Art Fair was an excellent attempt to leave both art enthusiasts and those new to the field with much food for thought.
Contact Bao Jia Tan at baojiatan ‘at’ stanford.edu.