Arts Notice

Seattle Art Fair 2019 Aims to Be a Room of Wonder

An earthquake simulator, an Instagram star who smashes her face into bread…

By Stefan Milne July 24, 2019

Some of the works on display at Seattle Art Fair 2018.

“I’m really enamored with how wild this one is,” Nato Thompson says about Seattle Art Fair, which returns to CenturyLink Field Event Center next week for its fifth year. This time Thompson, the artistic director, organized it around the idea of Wunderkammers—literally “wonder chambers”—16th and 17th century rooms that displayed artifacts gathered from across the world.

“What I find fascinating and problematic about the original Wunderkammers is that they’re totally colonialist,” Thompson says. He liked a governing principle that would allow him to work between disciplines—from conventional art to technology and ecology—as they did in Wunderkammers. “I was kind of interested in a space where these things can recombine, but also [was] somewhat critical of its legacy.”

So what does this wild, interdisciplinary approach look like as actual installations and exhibits?

Incubator for Earthquakes

Well, Incubator for Earthquakes, an installation from Bigert and Bergström, models an earthquake via a dinner table and its china. It’s a look at “how we as humans are not separate from the planet, but are deeply integrated in it,” Thompson says. 

Artist Stephanie Dinkins brings Not the Only One (N’TOO), a sculpture/robot/memoir of three generations of women in a black American family born between 1932 and 1997. Their stories will be filtered and shaped through an AI program, and as users engage with the sculpture its abilities will change based on the input.

Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready and artist Kate Neckel—who met at a past Art Fair and have been collaborating—will perform. Australian artist Patricia Piccinini will show two “mutant sculptures,” as Thompson calls them. Made mostly of silicone and hair, they’re eerily lifelike yet alien. For more info on the lineup, including talks on AI and "The Art of Destruction," you can see Art Fair's website

Most talked about, though, is Bread Face’s Self Facing, the first art installation from the social media performer who smashes her face into bread (causing ASMR for some viewers). Her show digs into voyeurism and domesticity. According to the press release, it features "baked goods created for the Seattle Art Fair.” Fairgoers can engage with said truly artisanal breads however they want, through touch or.... 

Seattle Art Fair
Aug 1–4, CenturyLink Field Event Center, $35–$90

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