09 March 2011

Elin Melberg and Frido Evers at Pulse NYC

Pulse art fair
New York
Galleri Maria Veie
Elin Melberg (NO)
Frido Evers (NL/NO)

Elin Melberg and Frido Evers at Pulse Art Fair, NYC
The exhibition before the box arrived, with both artists and the gallery represented

The Maria Veie Gallery was invited as the only Norwegian and one of few foreign galleries to the Pulse art fair. They answered by serving a solid dose of glamour and fairytales to all the visitors. I was happy to see how it all came together.

Last weekend was a hectic weekend for art lovers in New York. An abundance of art fairs, in total about ten, plus special happenings and exhibitions all over the city. The art fairs are quite different when it comes to both content and status. Of the three fairs I visited, Fountain art fair was held in a tent on a barge floating in the Hudson river, Scope in storehouse rooms in an industrial area, and Pulse in a large gallery space in fashionable Chelsea area. Pulse attains a high status, so it is a great honor to be invited there. The Oslo-based gallery even got one of the best visible booths.

The plans for the exhibition was to show the giant box of the artpiece "I wish I wish I wish in vain" by Elin Melberg, in addition to her sound art. Frido Evers was presented by four collages and three sculptures.

Elin Melberg and Frido Evers at Pulse Art Fair, NYC
The box installation

But the box did not arrive at due time. Instead of being sent to New York, most of the installation was sent to Paris. Visitors arriving at the booth could see a part of the installation, and got descriptions of the artwork and the story of what had happened to it. In this way a great deal of tension and expectation was built up. I believe quite some just had to return to see the legendary box. When it finally arrived and was mounted the third day of the show, people queued up to see it.

Elin Melberg and Frido Evers at Pulse Art Fair, NYC
Elin Melberg and Frido Evers at Pulse Art Fair, NYC

So what is the box all about? On the outside it is a quite plain, unpainted structure. You have to put on mirror-covered shoes to enter, and shut the door after you. The lights are flickering and your eyes are shocked by the amount of mirrors, glossy paradise pictures of angels and birds, glass beads. Fortunately there is a matching chair to sit on to prevent you from falling down of dizzyness. In the background you hear the sound art based on the artist's heart rhythm.

Unfortunately the background noise of the fair was covering the sound art, and I believe the experience would have been even stronger if it had been silent outside. But this installation messes seriously with your head anyway.

Elin Melberg and Frido Evers at Pulse Art Fair, NYC
Box interiour

Pulse seemed like a rather serious art fair with mostly artwork hung on the wall and booth hosts wearing dark suits or costumes. Gallery owner Maria Veie Sandvik and artist Elin Melberg wore extravagant Norwegian design dresses. In this way they drew even more visitors to their exhibition by their colorfulness and uniqueness.

Actually, this booth also had art on the walls. Four collages and one installation by Frido Evers, in addition to two installations standing on the floor. The collages are multilayered improvised pieces of small size, while the installations are boxes half a metre high with a lit photo on the front. With such a big difference in size, the large box could easily have diminished the smaller ones. But in my opinion Evers' boxes felt more at ease and got more focus in the triangular waiting space beside the large box. They felt a bit lonely in the large empty space before the large box arrived.

Somehow the two artists' work completed each other. Evers' pieces led the viewers into the booth, where Melberg's piece got the full attention. But while waiting to get into the box, the viewers would discover Evers' installations.

Judging by the massive response and interest, the exhibition was a great success. Maria Veie Galleri turned the challenge into an fairytale. I believe this is the booth most people remember from the Pulse art fair.

(I will write more about the other exhibitors at Pulse art fair later.)