As Liz Magic Laser demonstrated through her fact- and figure-studded corporate sendup of a commission, less is rarely more at the Armory Show–a 15-year-old event that this year managed to celebrate its “centennial edition.” Exhibitors determined to get the most bang for their buck (a booth runs around $24,000, according to Laser’s tote bags) erect maze-like configurations to hang, store, and sell as much as possible. David Zwirner has recently taken a more Zen approach to the fair frenzy, devoting the gallery’s booth to a boldly presented solo show.
This year Zwirner gave over its prime rectangle of the fair floor (near the entrance and opposite the champagne bar) to Los Angeles-based video artist Diana Thater, whose haunting “Chernobyl” accompanied the gallery’s post-Sandy reopening last November. The Armory booth unveiled a trio of multi-monitor videowalls playing “Day for Night” (2013), footage of bruisey purple blooms that tremble like viscera through a persistent drizzle and the 16-millimeter haze of multiple camera techniques.
Thater began with bouquets of flowers, placed on a mirror on the ground, and hoisted her camera up on a crane to shoot from above. “They’re all made in sixteen-millimeter film, on a very old camera, and they’re double-exposed film, so they’re not layered in the edit process. They’re layered in the camera,” Thater told us at the fair. “It’s something very simple that’s made in a complicated way.” The bright blue L.A. sky, reflected in the mirror, is made dusky by a day-for-night camera filter. “I brought it down to look like evening so that the flowers would kind of melt into the sky,” she explained.