Independent Art Fair 2012, former Dia building Chelsea NY, November 2011 – March 2012

To animate the circulation in the three exhibition floors, we created inner walls that stand in an X-configuration, which rotates along the building’s central axis by 29º. This shift moves the building away from the orientation of the New York City grid and aligns the walls with a compass, running from north to south and from east to west. Conversely, the outer walls of each space relate to the surrounding walls of the old factory building located in Chelsea, and with the orientation of surrounding buildings. Unlike other art fairs, we built thick walls which generated calm corners for tranquil art viewing. 

On the roof level, we created a playful indoor/outdoor environment that frames the sky and constellations using a transparent tent and pieces of stretched canvas. Taking into account the orientation of the constellations in March, we designed the large central hole to align with the Lesser Bears (Little Dipper) constellation and a small round hole above the staircase to frame Polaris-- finally going all the way to the group around Kochab in the main tent. The remnants of this celestial shaped ceiling cover the floor, creating an island with basic information about the stars to enjoy the view, a drink, or read a magazine. Four publishers presented their publications on and around a wall that is built along the same X-configuration. On the wall’s north-south axis, a pinhole for viewing frames the North Star; in the wall’s east-west axis, a pinhole outlines the Empire State Building, which is exactly east of our installation.

The lounge is furnished with custom-made furniture built out of Homasote, a building material made from post-consumer paper product. The furniture is based on the same concept of the star constellations and zero waste: the material we cut off from the organically shaped tabletop or seat will be used for legs. In the course of the five day fair, the furniture will show wear-and-tear, while the floor shows the crowd’s circulation pattern, which manifests through placing piles of pigment of each of the four colors from the CMYK printing template in front of each publisher’s stand.

Project team: Adrian Madlener, Madeline Hollander, Peter Dumbadze

Materials: Drywalls, canvas, pigments, Homasote

Photography:  Photo 1, 2, 3, 9, 10 and 11 by Tom Powel Imaging Inc


INDEPENDENT was conceived by Elizabeth Dee and Darren Flook and developed in conjunction with creative advisor Matthew Higgs and Co-Directors Jayne Drost Johnson and Laura Mitterrand.


29° Observatory - Independent 2012