Some heroes wear capes, others work at the ACLU, and in the case of the pop up art fair Plan B, the heroes are ordinary art world people lending help to the jilted VOLTA exhibitors. Setting up shop in collectors Susan and Michael Hort’s living room, amid their annual install, these modern day Knights of the Round Table (or knights underneath a Spencer Finch light sculpture) sought to do the impossible: put on an alternative to VOLTA pop-up art fair in a mere week.
Just days before the fair was slated to open to the public, a city inspection revealed that one of The Armory Show’s usual piers—Pier 92—was in fact structurally unsound. The following sequence of events resembled that classic power play standard in any elementary school playground, where the bigger kid kicks the smaller kid off the swings.
In plain terms, The Armory Show took VOLTA’s Pier 90, leaving the fair homeless. Within days, VOLTA was cancelled and exhibitors were promised to be reimbursed for their invoiced payments. The problem with this solution was that many of these galleries had booked flights and rooms, and some had already shipped their art to New York. To those who knew what was happening, there was a fear that the hasty decision to cancel the art fair would put these small galleries at risk of going out of business while the bigger galleries (who could theoretically bear the financial blow) were left unaffected.
It was this fear that motivated immediate discussions among our proverbial knights: VOLTA’s Amanda Coulson, NADA’s Heather Hubbs, collector Peter Hort, and Independent’s Elizabeth Dee. The first course of action was to search for alternative spaces in the hopes of resurrecting the fair. But it became apparent that VOLTA’s parent company, MMPI, was unwilling to consider those options. So instead of trying to resurrect the fair, our knights needed to switch gears and create an alternative. They needed a “plan B.”
The concept of an alternative art fair became reality when David Zwirner (who, turns out, would be our knight in shining armor) offered a space within his gallery. Hort, with the help of VOLTA’s David Goodman, Kerstin Herd, Brian Fee, and Chris De Angelis, sent out an email of hope to all the former exhibitors. Thus creating Plan B—a scaled back pop up art exhibition featuring a selection of the former VOLTA exhibitors open March 6—9 in Chelsea at 525 West 19th Street and 534 West 21st Street.
The art world has its share of problems, between properly paying artists and institutional exclusivity. So often we either focus on those blemishes or ignore them entirely, looking at the art world entirely negatively or blind to its problems. Very rarely do we have the opportunity to praise the art world for good, for coming together to help each other, for finding solutions to those problems we so dwell upon.
So we commend you fair knights, for doing what no one else would do, for devoting your precious time and effort to help others when no one asked you to. Thank you David Goodman, Kerstin Herd, Brian Fee, Uli Voges, Quang Bao, Amanda Coulson, Peter Hort, and Chris De Angelis for all your hard work.