The clever strategy of leveraging exposure, sales and tourist foot traffic during major art fairs has produced a multitude of smaller, satellite offshoots around the globe––yet never quite to this degree. To coincide with EXPO Chicago (September 19-22), artist-run project space Julius Caesar is organizing BARELY FAIR, a literal miniature art fair. Each of the twenty-four participating galleries will occupy their own twelve-by-twelve-by-twenty-inch booth. The tiny proportions are an unassumingly radical agent for inclusivity and opportunity, as participating in the fair is cost-efficient. The low overhead for shipping allows galleries from Little Rock, Arkansas to Valletta, Malta to contribute. It also gives emerging artists the chance to create works that would otherwise need ostentatious grants or gallery representation to be realized.
BARELY FAIR highlights the rising culture of under-the-radar, often small-in-size artist spaces that are a fascinating glimpse into the art world during the age of Instagram. Kate Sierzputowski, one of the four directors of Julius Caesar, has been fascinated by these spaces, which proliferate in her Instagram feed. She says they “give artists and directors the ability to show off artwork without having to have a huge amount of space.” Documentation of work is arguably as necessary as the exhibition itself. She claims that Instagram has made it easier to display the work “yet further screws with scale.”
“It’s sometimes hard to judge the true size of an exhibition or work when viewed on the same grid, which almost democratizes the way the miniature exhibition space is displayed,” she says.
With a desire to highlight these spaces, Sierzputowski first pitched the idea to her co-directors, Josh Dihle, Roland Miller and Tony Lewis, as an “exhibition of exhibitions.” The team then morphed the concept into an art fair, which provides another layer of visibility. Julius Caesar is able to host the galleries together while providing a low-budget opportunity to participate in an art fair.
The art fair will compile an eclectic mix of galleries, works and responses to the miniature premise. Some of the featured galleries function as miniature art spaces, such as The Outlet Gallery from Milwaukee, which is entirely composed around an electrical outlet; Loo Gallery, which occupies the bathroom of Slow Gallery here in Chicago; and Flyweight Projects, a gallery built into a closet in the Brooklyn apartment of artists Clare Torrino and Jesse Cesarrio. While other, conventional galleries will respond to the miniature premise, Serious Topics (Los Angeles) will miraculously host a twenty-three-person group exhibition, Good Weather (North Little Rock) will present “Rat Museum for a Rat,” a painting of cheese inside of a rat trap by Tokyo-based artist COBRA. Blitz (Malta) will host a perplexing and possibly participatory installation of a furry carpet and a shaving machine by artist Pierre Portelli. Coustaf Waxman (New York) will show a blown-glass tobacco pipe by Ryan Crowley. The Suburban (Milwaukee) will include one work by YBA Gavin Turk and two collaborative works with Gavin Turk and the gallery. Prairie will host a solo exhibition of artist Mindy Rose Schwartz, and Stephanie Cristello’s artist space, Chicago Manual Style, will present the work of Sarah Ortmeyer alongside their exhibition “Inferno Chicago.”
Julius Caesar will also showcase “Barely Shorts,” an artist-made video series, starting the middle of October, and will host an artist talk at the New Art Dealers Alliance’s Chicago Invitational, titled “Economies of Scale.” (Celia Glastris)
BARELY FAIR will hold a vernissage on September 20, 6-10pm, at 3311 West Carroll Avenue. The fair runs through October 20. A list of viewing hours is at www.barelyfair.com.