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Art fairs

What to see at Portal: Governors Island

Our pick of highlights from the 12th edition of the fair launched by artists for artists

The 12th edition of the artist-run fair Portal: Governors Island (previously called the Governors Island Art Fair) presents work by more than 80 international artists across four historic homes in Colonels Row in the decommissioned military base, where various rooms, hallways and the garden serve as galleries brimming with paintings, sculptures, photographs, video installations and other works. The co-founders of 4heads, the non-profit organisation that operates the fair, reviewed more than 800 applications this year. “When we’re sifting through proposals, we’re looking out for smartness and catchiness—we don’t care too much about your CV or whether you already have gallery representation,” says the artist and 4heads co-founder Nicole Laemmle. “We started the fair 12 years ago with the mission to support art we believe in and that’s what we’re still doing today.” The event provides invaluable exposure for emerging and mid-career artists, with around 40,000 attendees in the 2018 edition of the fair (a figure that organisers expect to surpass this year). “Every year there’s more and more momentum,” Laemmle says. The fair, which is free to browse through, runs every weekend from 31 August to 29 September. Here are some of the must-see works:

In this immersive and interactive work, the Brooklyn-based artist aims to create an intimate experience reminiscent of “soul gazing” exercises in Tantra, which involves nonverbal communication. Visitors sit across from the artist within a closed dome bedecked with colourful pompoms, and are then tucked under a weighted blanket and fitted with an eyepatch, a headset and headphones that emit music by Eluvium, the moniker of the ambient composer Matthew Cooper. The artist asks that you maintain eye contact throughout the three-minute experience, in which a psychedelic optical illusion is produced. “You have to maintain eye contact or it doesn’t work,” the artist explains.
Bobby Anspach, Place for Continuous Eye Contact, 2017

In this immersive and interactive work, the Brooklyn-based artist aims to create an experience reminiscent of “soul gazing” exercises in Tantra involving nonverbal communication. Visitors sit across from the artist within a closed dome bedecked with colourful pompoms, and are then tucked under a weighted blanket and fitted with an eyepatch, a headset and headphones that emit music by Eluvium, the moniker of the ambient composer Matthew Cooper. The artist asks that you maintain eye contact throughout the three-minute experience, which facilitates a psychedelic optical illusion. “You have to maintain eye contact or it doesn’t work,” the artist explains.

The New York-based duo, who have previously shown work at the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, have created a live performance space comprising sculptures, multi-channel installations and sound, which will be activated with CKCKCKCK on CKCKCKCK. The work was partially completed during the artists’ residency at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs this year.
Lauren Petty and Shaun Irons, All Over Everywhere, 2019

The New York-based duo, who have previously shown work at the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, have created an immersive space comprising sculptures, projections and sound installations. The artists shot the footage during their artists’ residency at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs this year, where the project was conceived.

The Brooklyn-based sculptor, designer and architect has created a series of abstract but functional mixed-media pieces, such as this steel, paper and pulp armoire that resembles a caterpillar mid-metamorphosis, with a surface that appears to have been carved from organic materials. The artist also creates large-scale outdoor sculptures and earthworks, which he began experimenting with while in West Africa, where he learned about alternative architectural and sculptural methods. The artist also operates Shape Studio in Brooklyn, a design and fabrication shop known for undertaking eclectic projects.
J McDonald, Cocoon Armoire, 2019

The Brooklyn-based sculptor, designer and architect has created a series of abstract but functional mixed-media pieces, such as this steel, paper and pulp armoire that resembles a caterpillar mid-metamorphosis, with a surface that appears to have been carved from organic materials. The artist also creates large-scale outdoor sculptures and earthworks, which he began experimenting with while in West Africa, where he learned about alternative architectural and sculptural methods. The artist also operates Shape Studio in Brooklyn, a design and fabrication shop known for undertaking eclectic projects.

The French-born New York-based artist, who has a background in sound engineering and audiovisual production, creates kinetic sculptures from light that animate the space with a sinuous and cosmic ambience by combining reflective surfaces, LED lighting and projection. “Motion plays a fundamental role in my work, transforming a static image into an organic and growing life”, the artist has said of his installations. “It’s so simple but ethereal and beautiful,” adds Laemmle.
Laurent Fort, The Reflection of Fashion, 2019

The French-born New York-based artist, who has a background in sound engineering and audiovisual production, creates kinetic sculptures from light that animate the space with a sinuous and cosmic ambience by combining reflective surfaces, LED lighting and projection. “Motion plays a fundamental role in my work, transforming a static image into an organic and growing life”, the artist has said of his installations. “It’s so simple but ethereal and beautiful,” adds Laemmle.

The New York-based artist, who has previously shown work at the New Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, is inspired by Modernist sculpture of the 1970s, which she aims to “reinterpret with a feminine hand, as sculpture was traditionally—and remains today—seen as a masculine practice”, Buck says. This large-scale wooden work, comprising stacked and interlinked parts that resemble a mangled bracelet, is among 19 outdoor installations on the island in this edition of the fair.
Miggy Buck, Rapunzel, 2019

The New York-based artist, who has previously shown work at the New Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, is inspired by Modernist sculpture of the 1970s, which she aims to “reinterpret with a feminine hand, as sculpture was traditionally—and remains today—seen as a masculine practice”, Buck says. This large-scale wooden work, comprising stacked and interlinked parts that resemble a mangled bracelet, is among 19 outdoor installations on the island in this edition of the fair.