a remedy for visual overdose


After a week of art shows, New York is breaking up countless exhibitions.

I visited SCOPE on the last day. I expected a stampede. Especially when I noticed that I didn’t have to show my pass and that the fair was open to the general public free of charge.

When talking to some exhibitors, I learned that the big crowds had stayed away the whole week. Are things going slow in the art business? Even when it’s said that now is the time to invest in art, people are still reluctant to spend their money.

Maybe the biggest event, The Armory Show, attracted the biggest part of the people who braved the cold and snowy weather this past week. The Armory is The Armory. But treasures can also be found at lesser known fairs as SCOPE.

Although this fair is of a much smaller scale, walking through its aisles can be an exercise in how much you can take. Too often, that’s the problem with any kind of fair: it becomes overwhelming and soon enough one starts to show signs of visual overdose.

So I set myself a mission. Or rather two missions. At first.

One of the first images I saw on entering the hall at the former Post Office building, was a photograph of a fat, young and naked woman. Not her most flattering picture. I won’t question the artistic value, but I was afraid I was going to see yet another show where ugliness is sublimated in the name of art. I thought for a moment this could be my focus: how ugliness, freakiness, deformity, exaggeration and violence could be lifted to the level of artfulness. But all too soon I had enough of it. I just didn’t want to burn that kind of images on my retina.

So I had to shift my attention. Backing away from violent, flashy or screaming colours, I set off to look for the subdued palette. Something to rest the eye on, instead of being dazzled by competing bold paint values. Far away from the blow-up-in-your-face provocation of religiously or sexually explicit content. I just didn’t feel like it. Not at that moment.

The moment, surely. But of course personal taste has got to do with it too.

With two eyes and one camera, I began my stroll. Shutting out the rest of the world, I let my gaze wander from one booth to another, with that very mission in mind: to give my eyes the rest they wanted. And this is the result.


Featured artists : Sinead Breathnack-Cashell, Francesco Sena, Monica Serra, Jean-Sébastien Denis, Miyako Suzuki, Amy M. Ho, Norman Mooney, Etsuko Ichikawa, Wendy Wolf, Matt Mignanelli, SIT

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