Nada House 2021 on Governors Island

Ignacio Gatica, “9:08 PM,” 2021, collected watches and cement. Presented by CASANOVA, São Paulo at NADA House 2021.

NADA House
: The New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA)

Colonels Row, Governors Island

May 8 through August 1, 2021

By DARYL KING, July 2021

The work-from-home lifestyle, or use of the home as a professional workspace, was partially initiated by George Washington. President Washington was not the first American President to live in the White House, he helped start the practice of conducting business at home. This fact is reflective of the harmony between each room at NADA House and the Contemporary art displayed within. Artists at this year’s NADA House tasked themselves with examining “and engaging with the unique character of the spaces, exhibiting work in a diverse range of mediums including large-scale installations, immersive environments, wall murals, and outdoor sculpture.” The show occupies only a small fraction of the properties housed on Governor’s Island but echoes a reclamation of history and architecture from the late 18th century. “Looking ahead, the Island will be activated year-round as a sustainable campus for learning and entrepreneurship, with plans for expanded commercial and non-profit uses in its future.” One of the foremost praises, which can be sung about NADA House, is the revival of American style and the lack of restraint between the past and Contemporary Art. “the third edition of NADA House, returning to Governors Island with 66 galleries, non-profits, artist-run spaces, and curators, presenting over 100 artists. The collaborative, public exhibition will take place May 8 – August 1, 2021 in an expanded format, with gallery presentations in over 50 rooms in three neighboring turn-of-the-century colonial revival buildings.”


Installation view: Ernesto Gutiérrez Moya presented by Emerson Dorsch Gallery, Miami.

One of the tropes of the New York art industry is the sharp polarization between Chelsea and the bustling Downtown New York art scene. Many of the directors of powerhouse galleries in Chelsea might be nostalgic for a time when it wasn't more cost-effective to relocate uptown from SoHo, the East Village, or Lower East Side. NADA House serves as a reminder of the kind of synergy that existed before creative hubs in Manhattan were commercialized. Rather than looking down upon the past year of restricted movement, viewers can visit NADA House to appreciate the efficiency and the ability to balance within a live-work space: “NADA House participants will engage with the unique character of the spaces, exhibiting work in a diverse range of mediums including large-scale installations, immersive environments, murals, and outdoor sculpture.” Experimental ways of exhibiting art were already starting to become a movement due to the rising costs of managing a gallery. Whether it be at a gallery located in an apartment, or a hybrid, DIY venue, these new investigational situations inspired artists to shake up the foundation of their artistic practices. For professional, more established, artists, these experiments allow them to relive their undergraduate years before their exhibitions sold out before the first half of the opening night. NADA House provides a great way to escape habits before the art industry returns to normal.

“Numerous artists at NADA House this year will present works that directly respond to the complex history of Governors Island’s colonial, military, and political past….” Yet, what was normal about attending the opening night of a show? Art enthusiasts are familiar with “the white cube” cliché, general visual fatigue, an overflowing amount of cheap booze, and what it means to self-consciously start a conversation with anyone that catches your gaze. If things are going to be slightly obstinate, why not switch the location up and make an escapade out of it: “Eight minutes from the energy and excitement of the City, the Island is a popular seasonal destination. A resilient new park is complemented by dozens of unique historic buildings, environmental educational facilities, a rich arts, and culture program and a 22-acre National Monument managed by the National Park Service. Unlike anywhere else in New York, Governors Island offers peaceful settings….”

Installation view: “ISLA a ISLA,” presented by Embajada, San Juan.

Before the launch of the art gallery business model, artists presented their artwork at museums and art fairs. Although the new system has made the art industry more democratic, the inability of some artists and creators to obtain a formal exhibition has inspired them to pursue new avenues. Artists throughout the world are now emerging out of quarantine after formalizing their home studios and practices. Only now, a lot of the people, who would normally be on the outskirts of the New York City art industry, are catching onto the tail end of a trend that started before COVID-19. Viewers were starting to become more familiar with hybrid practices. Although these new practices were put on hold until physical visits were allowed, the #workfromhome project increase was matched by outdoor dining installations, demonstrating new ways of using available space. These trends aren’t that unique but are predominantly American in their origin. “In the areas surrounding the buildings, this year’s exhibition will include NADA House’s largest presentation of outdoor artworks to date.” WM 

Daryl King

Daryl King is an architecturally influenced artist, based in Brooklyn, New York. His passion for art and architecture is only matched by an equal interest in food. He is the founder and director of 国王roi, kokuo roi, an ever expanding firm that consumes everything around it and regurgitates it out in the form of something spectacular. With plans for future discussions, events, exhibitions, and some non-profit work, Daryl is inspired to make his immediate environment quintessential in some way; however, he is greatly distracted by listening to music, playing PS3, and streaming media online.

view all articles from this author