Independent Projects

Reaching your hand inside Yves Klein’s Sculpture tactile, a sudden wave of mixed emotion rush over you: shock, confusion, embarrassment, curiosity. The unseemly small enclosed white box, perched atop a single support stand with two small holes each concealed by a curtain of black velvet, produced the most animated responses among gallery-goers at Independent Projects over the weekend.

Upon first touch—you are confused—something immediately comes to mind but you are unsure. Then, you begin to feel a warmth, a unique sensation and you realize that you are touching a real, living person, naked. Not being able to see what I am touching (and by now feeling slightly awkward), I move my hand around slightly, carefully conscious of minimizing the “intrusiveness” of my actions. My fingers brush against something soft and pillowy, and I realize it was the person’s lips. I withdrew my hand.

It was a provocative installation, and one that made me think about why so many of us (evident from the reactions of many of the visitors who squealed, squirmed, pulled odd faces, and pulled back their hands in fright) are so afraid by human touch. As the world becomes more connected, are we becoming more isolated and distant from one another?

The other highlight of the fair for me was Haroon Mirza’s immersive sound installation, Access Boot (2014). Combining repurposed everyday objects with feedback loops, lights, electro currents, and reverberating dance music, it is richly layered and entirely mesmerizing. The artwork is said to be partly inspired by the Wolfgang Petersen film Das Boot, the story of the German submarine U-96 (Kriegsmarine) and its crew during the Second World War, and partly by Access, a 1990s Acid House single by DJ Misjah and Tim.

Billed as a hybrid art fair and exhibition, Independent Projects showcased a good selection of 40 galleries, each staging single-artist shows. This made the experience much more relaxed and digestible (due to its size) and wholly pleasant to spend ones Saturday afternoon.

Exhibition continues through November 15, 2014.
548 West 22nd Street, Chelsea
Independent Projects