Matthew Higgs on the Hybrid Nature of Independent Projects

“We tried to to create a platform where all kinds of positions could coexist simultaneously,” said Matthew Higgs of Independent Projects, the combination art fair-exhibition that opens at 548 West 22nd Street in New York on November 6 and runs through November 15. (Higgs is a curatorial advisor for the event, working alongside Elizabeth Dee, Darren Flook, and Laura Mitterrand.) A “hybrid” and “experiment” of sorts, Independent Projects grew out of discussions with organizers and the 40 exhibitors, each of whom will present solo projects. Higgs noted his affection for fairs like the ADAA in New York and NADA in Miami, citing the former’s happy mix of medium and historical era, as well as the fact that most galleries there enjoy a similarly scaled booth. “You get a great experience of being surrounded by art and ideas [at ADAA], and you’re not so conscious of real estate and hierarchies and so forth,” he said, adding that Independent Projects’ designer, Jonathan Caplan of Project-Space, has created an environment that is both “extremely fluid” and “completely democratic” — doubtlessly a challenge, considering that heavyhitters like Zwirner and Gagosian will be sharing the square footage with White Columns, Andrew Edlin Gallery, The Journal, and many others. (Caplan and Project-Space are no strangers to the art world, having designed for both Petzel and Gavin Brown.)

“The idea for the visitor is that you’ll be confronted by 40 solo shows,” Higgs said, an alchemy which will lead to unexpected “narratives, relationships, and dialogues” among the works on view. Skarstedt Gallery, he said, will show a series of felt banners by Mike Kelley, a peer of Raymond Pettibon, who is in the midst of completing a large wall drawing for Zwirner in the space. Higgs also anticipates intriguing frictions between other pairings, like Duane Hanson (Karma) and Mathew Cerletty (Jay Gorney), or Piotr Uklanski (Gagosian) and Aura Rosenberg (Martos Gallery). “What we were trying to do, through the conversations with galleries, was present material that was unfamiliar, that would be new to New York audiences,” Higgs said. The eclectic nature of the programming — with sculpture by Thornton Dial sharing the building with interactive pieces by Yves Klein, paintings by Sam Falls, a Haroon Mirza sound installation, and a site-specific piece by Virginia Overton–should certainly keep everyone on their toes.

— Scott Indrisek (@indrisek)

(Photo: Aubrey Mayer)