Josh Smith selects Alex Gartenfeld

Painter Josh Smith explores the ever evolving MOCA curator Alex Gartenfeld

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Taken from the September issue of Dazed & Confused:

Painter Josh Smith: “Alex has an adventurous attitude towards what is an increasingly calculated profession. He cultivates a world where art is alive rather than on display. It’s clear he views his role as evolving, and that it makes no sense to try to figure it out. That’s the attitude to have, no matter what you do.”

“Critique is so crucial to New York,” says 26-year-old curator Alex Gartenfeld, who has garnered serious attention for his collaborations with both downtown icons and talked-about names. A recent survey of New York artists that he co-curated looked at the city’s changing art scene in the past two decades. “All these artists are thinking about the way you can be transgressive at a time when New York is all these other things - the market capital, the real estate capital, the place where art can turn into commodity incredibly quickly.”

I always thought of myself as an editor who is very hands-on with artists and who collaborates really closely in order to create new projects.

The buzz about Gartenfeld has been growing for a long time. Around the time of his graduation from Columbia in 2008 (he studied art history, focusing on Ryan Trecartin and Wallace Berman), he helped put together a book of queer zines for Printed Matter’s Art Book Fair that quickly sold out. A week after graduating he was hired as online editor of Interview magazine, and soon after that he started co-creating project spaces in his own cramped Manhattan apartments – first Three’s Company in 2009, where artwork jostled for space among furniture and he was known to answer the door to curious visitors his socks, then West Street Gallery in 2010. (The latter was based in an apartment so small that parties had to be held in the bar downstairs.) This activity culminated in his recent appointment as curator for the innovative Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami.

Critique is so crucial to New York

What defines Gartenfeld’s approach is how he places the old and new next to each other, recontextualising and reinventing works in the process. The artists he works with vary from establishment names like Dan Graham, Wade Guyton and Jeff Koons to hot young talents like Nate Lowman and Tabor Robak. He describes himself as a “territorial editor. I still work on essays and write. I always thought of myself as an editor who is very hands-on with artists and who collaborates really closely in order to create new projects. The reason I started with independent project spaces was partly for that interactivity.” Expect very hot things to develop under this young buck’s new Floridian tenure.

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