By DARYL KING, November 2022
TEFAF (The European Fine Art Foundation) made a great excuse for me to return to the Upper East Side, originally the land of the mega-rich and their friends only. Without its museums and art fairs, I would have no other excuse to venture that far up north, not even to visit former classmates. This year’s art fair was significant for signaling the return to regularity. TEFAF featured fine art, antiques, and design with a grand social event at the Park Avenue Armory, funded by the Bank of America.
For underground insiders, the Bank of America is synonymous with the ultimate extreme of corporate capitalization. Nonetheless, the institution has become responsible for numerous art and culture initiatives. TEFAF New York is new, being only 6 years old, but still managed to bring 91 galleries to New York City. The not-for-profit foundation employed Tom Postma Design to design the multilevel engagement with the historic space. The exhibition of the content extended throughout the entire Wade Thompson Drill Hall and the first and second floors of the Armory’s period rooms.
The fair provided a moment where beautiful things could have been bought or admired. With the passing of the former leader of the British monarchy, I immediately thought about Andre Leon Talley, an Untitled Queen, because I was thinking of what other figures passed away this year. I also realized that we are experiencing a new creative revolution and that my dreams are no longer the same.
I heard of the English Queens passing, after having dealt with the anguish of facing Queer Black stereotypes throughout life in New York City, nevertheless being Guyanese. I remember telling myself that I had to be worse than desperate to make it because my dream of living a fabulous lifestyle and traveling for business between Brooklyn, London, and Stockholm did not happen before I was 26.
Now I'm 34 in 2022, I cannot help but feel reflective, especially after having read “On The Exaggerated Reports of the Decline In British Fiction” by Jennifer Hodgson and Patricia Waugh. It is very much worth reading, due to my realization that I gained a new sense of awareness regarding royalty that started during college. In terms of hindsight and actual relevance, I even spent time with International Royalty. However, I became more aware of the Anarchistic, Indigenous, and Native movements. As my struggle as a creator increased, so did the struggle of many across the world. In the context of all of this turmoil, Bank of America has been funding over 1,500 nonprofit cultural institutions, thus making it the leading corporate sponsor of art around the world.
Their focus on education and enrichment has even expanded to a new program to offer home financing with no down payment or closing costs, under the condition that the location is in a minority neighborhood. These are all strategic efforts that the Bank has made to forestall any form of denunciation, proudly wearing the badge for its commitment to environmentalism and socialism: pledging $15 billion toward reasonable homeownership by 2025, increasing hourly pay to $25, and allocating $1 billion to address racial inequality. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) fined the bank $100 million for mishandling state unemployment benefits during the pandemic when families need aid the most. The bank froze the accounts of some customers through a faulty fraud detection program, highlighting the fragility of our increasing dependence on financial technology to operate. In another case, the bank was fined $125 million as well.
While the arts industry is expanding at an even greater pace than it originally would have, we are all collectively benefiting from the profound influence of Bank of America. Their history of mismanagement is waging its private war with the reputation the bank seeks from its audience. In the face of the loss of the right to have an abortion, in certain states in the United States, imagine being an Iranian woman, who has suddenly become at the forefront of the International Women’s Rights Movement. These are some of the key incidents in recent history that are shaping contemporary art. In the past, art was considerably thought of as something which children of color should avoid. Not only will your emotions get hurt, but the market is largely based on subjectivity, thus leading to a lack of administrative and legal enforcement across the board. Otherwise, the art industry, as it currently stands, wouldn’t exist.
Without the living patronage of certain people, our worlds fall apart, as we have seen in the case of the aforementioned Queens. However, their influence on our past lives determines the decisions made in the future. We may ultimately never know what the consequences of our actions may become. Acknowledging that we are powerless in that regard might be the answer.
TEFAF, itself, is dedicated to conserving and protecting cultural heritage. It serves as a benefactor to museums and conservation causes. “…the TEFAF Museum Restoration Fund is an annual grant established to support and promote the professional restoration and related scholarly research of significant museum artworks. Recently, TEFAF announced that The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) is a recipient of the TEFAF Museum Restoration Fund. With this funding, the MFAH will conserve, using culturally appropriate methods, the Montefiore Mainz Mahzor (circa 1310–20), a festival prayer book and one of the rare Hebrew “illuminated manuscripts”—hand-written books with painted decorations—still in existence.” WM
Daryl Rashaan King currently works as a Teaching Artist with Leap NYC; a Chef de Partie at CUT by Wolfgang Puck, The Four Seasons Tribeca; and the Vice President of the Asian American Film Lab. He is the founder/ principal of kokuoroi, a multidisciplinary creative studio. The studio focuses on problems derived from urban living, viewed through the perspective of King, a Brooklyn native. A graduate of Columbia University, who originally specialized in painting, some of King’s goals include obtaining both an M. Arch and an Expert Diploma in Culinary Arts. He would also like to pursue various art and design programs and to live abroad. King has already earned certificates from Parsons in Streetwear; completed part of the Sustainable Design Foundation at Pratt Institute; and volunteered in Cusco, Peru at the construction site of a new Lower School. His work has greatly evolved since taking an Information Architecture course focused on Future Cities, hosted by the Department of Architecture at ETH Zurich. A former varsity wrestler, King has hopes of learning and practicing new martial arts. When he isn’t working, enjoying music, or playing video games, King’s focus is on the future.view all articles from this author