The Armory Show art fair, which is scheduled to open its 25th-anniversary edition next week in New York on piers along the Hudson River, has decided to relocate one-third of its exhibitors because of structural issues with Pier 92, which hosts the event along with Pier 94. Those galleries will be moved to Pier 90, the home of its sister fair, Volta, which is being canceled. (Both events are owned by Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc.)
Nicole Berry, the Armory Show’s director, said that the organization was notified of the issues on Wednesday, and that the fair made the decision to relocate the dealers and scuttle Volta “after considering all feasible options.” The news was first reported by Artnet News.
“Unfortunately, this situation is beyond our control,” Berry said in her statement to press, adding that, “Our chief priority is the safety of the exhibitors, visitors, and artworks exhibited, and we will continue to work around the clock to ensure a smooth transition.”
Pier 90 is located a short walk south of Piers 92 and 94, and a one-minute shuttle will run during the fair to connect them, according to the Armory.
Amanda Coulson, Volta’s artistic director, said that, after mulling other possible ways of presenting the fair, “all considered situations were at best ad hoc and would not continue the high production value that is expected from our brand. We all agreed that presenting the New York 2019 edition in an extremely modified status would be a disservice to our galleries, the artists or the visitors.” Exhibitors who had been admitted to the fair will be refunded.
Volta, which also operates an edition in Basel, Switzerland, in June, was to feature 70 exhibitors, with galleries coming from locales as disparate as Seoul and Riga, Latvia. The fair typically offers presentations by emerging galleries devoted to one or two artists.
Eva Chimento of the Los Angeles gallery E.C. Liná said that she had a great experience participating in the 2018 edition of Volta under the name Chimento Contemporary. (That year, her artist Kim Schoenstadt received the fair’s Baha Mar Art Prize & Residency, which involves an acquisition, residency, and commission.) Chimento had planned to participate in this year’s Volta, as well as the Spring/Break Art Show in New York, which runs concurrently with the Armory Show. She had not yet been contacted by Volta organizers about the cancellation. Just last week, E.C. Liná had participated in Spring/Break’s inaugural Los Angeles edition. For the New York iteration, Chimento will show work by artist Chris Finley that includes a series of watercolors depicting the Muppets on fire.
Reached by phone, Katie Michel, the founder of Planthouse Gallery in New York, which planned to participate in Volta New York, said, “We’re just disappointed. I feel bad for Volta—they just had the rug pulled out from under them.” She said that it seemed unfair that the Armory Show, which shows mostly well-established enterprises, would take the place of Volta, a fair that typically showcases curated presentations of work by emerging artists. “A big company gets to decide what’s more profitable,” Michel said. “There’s not much we can do.”
Maximilíano Durón and Alex Greenberger contributed reporting.