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The Five Best Hotel Room Installations at One-Day Fair The Dependent

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If you haven’t made it to the second installment of the one-day-only Armory Week alternative art fair The Dependent, this year staged in a Comfort Inn on the Lower East Side, you only have a couple of hours left in which to do so — and probably a bit of a wait as the halls are likely jammed with visitors by now — but it’s well worth the trip. Whereas the fair’s first outing last year was contained on just two floors of a hotel in Chelsea, this time an expanded roster (including some more established yet still edgy galleries) has taken over floors three through eight of the generic Ludlow Street hotel, with all-around impressive results — like the spread of Lynda Benglis merchandise in the Specific Object room, pictured above. IN THE AIR checked in earlier this afternoon, and these were our favorite rooms…

Lower East Side gallery Ramiken Crucible had these twelve hilarious stool-like sculptures made of cast resin and pigment by Andra Ursuta. Almost as amusing as being mooned by a hotel room full of sculptures is the piece’s comically long title: “Blue Snatcher, Insomnia, Praying Mantis, Bruised Blonde, Viper Bride, Naked and Covered in Misery on Long Island, Purple Rain, Sinking Feeling, Strangler, Pest, Misleading Light At the End of The Tunnel” (2012).

In the room of Chelsea gallery Foxy Production — where we jockeyed for space with New York Times lead art critic Roberta Smith and her husband, New York magazine art critic Jerry Saltz — was this installation of stock photographs by Michael Bell-Smith. He explained that he had become enamored with these generic photos of instruments during a long stay in a similarly nondescript hotel, found them on Getty Images, and purchased the rights to reproduce them. A nearby poster displayed photos of other hotel rooms around the country where the same two framed photographs are hanging side-by-side.

SoHo non-profit art space Recess Activities turned over its room to Abigail Deville — who’s currently showing a similarly chaotic installation in the New Museum’s triennial. The post-apocalyptic makeshift shelter of sorts was too cavernous for more than one person to see it at once, with its bunker-like assortment of found and thrift store items. Deville spent six hours installing the piece from scratch last night.

Ridgewood gallery Regina Rex may have had the best room overall, with a two-person show of sculptures by Dave Hardy and a video by Nikhil Murthy. Hardy’s foam and glass (and generator) sculptures looked precarious on the hotel beds, but Regina Rex co-founder Max Warsh assured us that they were quite sturdy — though they did have to take the hotel door off its hinges to get the pre-assembled pieces into the room.

As with last year, participants’ treatment of the hotel bathrooms varied immensely. Some used it for storage, one hung a vintage Justin Timberlake poster in the shower, another used the bathtub as a makeshift aquarium. But the most impressive, without a doubt, was Jessie Stead’s installation in the Soloway bathroom, which included a bubble-blowing machine, a colorful strobe light, and thousands of marshmallows marked with the word “Ambient.”

And, since you would be disappointed if we hadn’t included it, here’s the vintage JT poster from The Shandaken Project’s bathroom, a limited edition piece by Scott Hug that the artist also signed in the actor-singer’s stead:

— Benjamin Sutton

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