Panel 1: As far as the Eye can See: Mapping the Trajectory of Objects, Movements, and Cultures
D. Jacob Rabinowitz (Institute of Fine Arts), “Three-dimensional Maps: The Site Specificity of Robert Smithson’s Nonsites.”
Beatrice Choi (Media, Culture, and Communication), “Message in a Bottle: Contesting the Legibility/Illegibility of Ruins and Revival in post-Katrina New Orleans.”
Galia Halpern (Institute of Fine Arts), “Sir John Mandeville and the Rhizomatic Travel Book.”
Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi (Institute of Fine Arts), “Seeing Refugee Camps Inside/Out: Embedment as a Method.”
Respondent: Faye Ginsburg, David B. Kriser Professor of Anthropology, New York University
Panel 2: Aesthetics and Their Effects
Kate Brideau (Media, Culture, and Communications), “Type as Techno-Image.”
Ertug Altinay (Performance Studies), “Depicting a Precarious Existence: Visual Material and Identity in Religious Studies Textbooks for German-Turkish Children.”
Eugenia Carol Kisin (Anthropology), “Unsettled Aesthetics: Land and Revision on the Contemporary Northwest Coast.”
Nathan Silberman (Computer Science), “Multiclass Segmentation with a Structured Light Sensor.”
Respondent: Robert Lubar, Associate Professor of Fine Arts, Institute of Fine Arts
Reception to Follow
Are you looking for a job in the arts that involves working directly with galleries, artists, museums, and collectors? Do you like to travel? Are you quick on your feet to overcome unforeseen obstacles? Are you interested in the mechanics of the art market? If you have answered “yes” to all of these questions, you might want to think about working for an art fair. Positions at art fairs, especially those that are satellite or niche, are a great way to jumpstart your career in the arts. From my experience as the Exhibitor Relations Associate at ART ASIA Fair, I have seen all sectors of the art world converge at fairs. They are much-anticipated annual events that allow access to all levels of art professionals from museum directors and scholars to top collectors and key critics. An invaluable opportunity to expand your network, art fairs are also places where you can learn about the business of art and how to make a sale, things not usually taught in an art history classroom.
In her Artforum article “Emerging Market: The Birth of the Contemporary Art Fair”, art historian Christine Mehring traces the history of art fairs to KUNSTMARKT 67, the first modern art fair, which hosted eighteen galleries in Cologne, Germany for a five-day period beginning on September 13, 1967. The brainchild of art dealers Hein Stunke and Rudolf Zwirner (father of gallerist David Zwirner), KUNSTMARKT 67 was an effort to revitalize the flagging West German art economy post-Berlin Wall. Not interested in educating the public or promoting community among art dealers, Stunke and Zwirner were up front about the fair’s unabashed mercantile aim, commercial transparency, and race to sell at affordable yet profitable prices. In many ways, KUNSTMARKT was not an exhibition of artworks but of the art market, making it a model for successors like Art Basel in Switzerland (1970), FIAC in Paris (1974), Art Chicago (1979), The Armory Show in New York (1998), and Frieze in London (2003).
Walking the floor of an art fair can be like walking the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. This is especially true on the vernissage night, where VIPs try to scoop up the most desirable works before the general public descends on the convention center halls the following morning. Unlike in the usually celebratory and relaxed atmosphere of gallery openings, gallerists mean business on the first night of an art fair, fielding questions and price quotes while in a constant stream of conversation. Strong sales the first day can project a good run for a superstitious gallerist or provide a source of consolation to another if the remaining days prove lackluster. The most important aspect of the art fair sale is the here and now. To let a buyer walk away, usually means that she will not return, and the sale is lost. However, gallerists also work hard on developing client relationships, taking a gamble on future interactions and sales.
Sarah Douglas looks at art fairs from a different perspective in her article “The Power of Fairs” for Art+Auction. Deemphasizing gallerists and emphasizing the marketing and structuring of an art fair as a luxury product, Douglas highlights the pivotal role of the trade show company in the making of a successful art fair. Running an art fair like any other business-to-consumer show, these companies see potential in the culture-and-leisure market and can help an art fair refine its image through corporate backing, special projects, and high profile events. The success of these campaigns can be seen in the increased buzz around art fairs as the biggest social events of the season.
While I have sometimes found the lack of “art” in art fairs ironic, being part of the show organization team has been a very rewarding experience. While many of the skills I learned as an art history undergraduate and intern at various museums and galleries did come in handy, I was surprised by how much I learned that could never be taught. As a result, I have continued to shape my perception of the art world straight from the belly of the beast!
Ksenia Yachmetz, CAS ’09, will take leave of the commercial art world this fall to pursue her doctoral studies in Central and Eastern European art as a Dodge Fellow at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
Douglas, Sarah. “The Power of Fairs.” Art+Auction. March, 2011.
Mehring, Christine. “Emerging Market: The Birth of the Contemporary Art Fair. Artforum. April, 2008.
Ksenia Yachmetz, CAS ’09
Objects of Translation by Professor Finbarr Barry Flood awarded the Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Book Prize6 Apr
Professor Finbarr Barry Flood’s book, Objects of Translation: Material Culture and Medieval “Hindu-Muslim” Encounter (Princeton University Press, 2009) has been awarded the 2011 Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Book Prize of the Association for Asian Studies, South Asia Council.
Named for the Sri Lankan-born philosopher and pioneering historian of South Asian art, the Coomaraswamy Book prize is awarded annually to “broad scholarly works with innovative approaches that promise to define or redefine understanding of whole subject areas. . . . The book’s subject matter must deal with South Asia (India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh) and may concern any topic in any discipline, or it may cross disciplinary lines.”
The Selection Committee’s citation gives a sense of the themes engaged in Flood’s book and its pathbreaking contributions to the field:
“Finbarr Flood’s Objects of Translation is a magisterial study of material culture and community identity in South Asia from the eighth to the early thirteenth century. In tracing the Muslim advance eastward from the Abbasid and Fatimid caliphates in western Asia, Flood complements textual data by analyzing objects to reveal how peoples of diverse ethnicities evolved patterns of political and social co-existence and synthesis. Using coins, clothing, and architecture, he documents the fluidity of relationships –political, economic, social, and religious — and the dense networks of circulation that linked Muslims of Arab, Persian and Turkish descent to Rajput and other Hindus. In patronizing, creating, and using these objects, Muslim and Hindu elites shared center stage with stonemasons, carvers, illustrators, and soldiers.
Particularly noteworthy for our understanding of the evolution of an Islamic culture not constrained by later imperial and nation-state boundaries or indeed, religious ideologies, is the incisive and balanced analysis of the implications of ‘loot’ and ‘reused’ elements in architecture, especially in the construction of the great thirteenth-century Qutb Minar complex in Delhi. Objects of Translation is a timely contribution to medieval Indian historical studies, a major addition to translation theory and historical-cultural studies, and a field-changing work of art history. It is a landmark.”
Objects of Translation was named a CHOICE Magazine Outstanding Academic Title in 2009.
Finbarr Barry Flood is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Humanities at the Institute of Fine Arts and Department of Art History. Before coming to NYU in 2001 as Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History (then, the Department of Fine Arts), he held post-doctoral research fellowships at Oxford and Harvard. He has been a research fellow at the Smithsonian Institution, the Center for the Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (National Gallery of Art, Washington DC), and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (Williamstown, MA), as well as a Getty Scholar and a Carnegie Foundation Scholar. Professor Flood is the author of The Great Mosque of Damascus: Studies on the Makings of an Umayyad Visual Culture (Brill, 2000) and numerous articles, essays, and reviews on Islamic and Indian art of the medieval through modern periods. He is the editor of Piety and Politics in the Early Indian Mosque (Oxford University Press India, 2008) and the co-editor of Globalizing Cultures: Art and Mobility in the Eighteenth Century, a special volume of the journal Ars Orientalis (2011). The recipient (in 2006) of a Golden Dozen Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching from the College of Arts and Science, Professor Flood is a dynamic lecturer and challenging teacher whose lecture courses, “Art in the Islamic World: From the Prophet to the Mongols” and “Art in the Islamic World: From the Mongols to Modernism,” and seminars on iconoclasm, Orientalism, and other topics are tremendously popular with NYU students.
Kathryn A. Smith