It would be great if some of this could be spread out. Especially since there are so many times during the rest of the year that things are dead around Chicago. But for now, we have Artropolis, where some five fairs are taking place all inside the Merchandise Mart. It's all smartly under one roof, but things are still spilling over all across the city.
Of course the main reason for all this is main fair, Art Chicago, which finally seems to be more than just turning around but actually gaining forward momentum this time around. The real point of interest, however, is the NEXT fair. Basically because NEXT is a mixture of established and emerging galleries, emphasis on the emerging ones. This means the newer art and artists. Of course not all of it will be good, but this is where the–what, “avant garde?”–is. There is no good term. “Cutting edge,” “fresh,” “young,” “new,” none of these work very well. But the point is, you will not be seeing endless booths peddling Jim Dine and Andy Warhol prints. It’s also invitational. There are bound to be some bad choices, but it is a much better approach than, “if you can scrape together the booth fee, you’re in.”
I don’t think there will be anything groundbreaking at either fair. Why would that even be expected? But there will definitely be some worthwhile and interesting art from around the world, including a generous amount of local representation.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, and end of the city is VERSION>08. Which this year takes on the concept of “Dark Matter:”
In 2008, Dark Matter is all around us. Us artists, us activists, us outlaws. All of us, we are engaged in a culture war and economic struggle against establishments in all their guises. We form communities to counter the alienation of everyday life, and the commercial and institutional structures that stifle reality. We desire another world.Shades of Guy Debord.
Version fest is already under way, and continues through the 27 of April. Where Artropolis gets its mandate from the wealthy, the established and the commercial, Version gets it from the young, the resourceful and the DIY. There is a lot of cross over, however. You will see visitors and participants from both camps at all the venues and events. And at NEXT you find the Version Fest affiliated Proximity Magazine, and the unfortunately named Reuben Kincaid Artist Management (also “artist management”?). Anyway, Proximity is described as:
Proximity is a Chicago-based magazine dedicated to contemporary art and culture. Our mission is to amplify discourse on local and global art ecologies. We hope to serve as a map - of artists, collectives and alternative spaces, as well as commercial galleries, museums and universities - connecting and cultivating sustainable creative communities.
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