ARTICLE WILLIAM WRIGHT
PHOTOGRAPHY HANNAH AMOND
Dating, murder, and DIS Magazine were all under one roof this last week for the 10th Frieze London, the annual art fair held this year in the Regents Park area. With the works of over 1,000 artists on display from 175 galleries from around the world, this was the most global-reaching year in the event’s history. It was also the busiest, and walking through the exhibition space, it wasn’t hard to see why. With carefully situated holograms (produced for the fair by Cécile B. Evans) providing an audio guide, and exhibits that included the filming of a murder mystery (Murder in Three Acts by Aslı Çavuşoğlu) and an opportunity to adopt a new identity and embark on “fake dating” (Ed Fornieles’ Characterdate at the Carlos/Ishikawa gallery), the curatorial direction at Frieze is one of engagement rather than arch abstraction.
In fact, so familiar were the component parts of many of the pieces on display that the atmosphere at Frieze was positively domestic. Pieces such as Lucien Smith’s Yet I get a kick, I get a kick, yes, I get outta you! (Salon 94) made up of plates thrown against a wall reflected a taste for lifestyle inflections housed by tastefully minimalist interiors, the feng shui almost as important as the pieces themselves.
Little surprise then that upon my visit, the space should be hosting a ginger dinner event, serving food exclusively to curators on-site with red hair, of course (Grizedale Arts and Yangjiang Group’s Colosseum of the Consumed). For those looking for something a little more traditional, the Frieze Masters show, housed at the opposite end of Regents Park (compiling work from the ancient world to the year 2000) was on hand to provide access to buy and view the kind of pieces more readily associated with museums than art fairs, along with pieces from the likes of Degas, Warhol and Picasso. Looking in from the outside, it’s impossible not to wonder whether behind the scenes the atmosphere is one of an interconnected global community or a Gallery Girls-style stand off, with curators ready to slit each other’s throats at the first sighting of a dealer with a suitably swollen pocket. Whatever the climate, the reflection is one of an art world whose health is understated yet undeniable, the successful curation of which aligns Frieze London with long established arts calendar staples such as Art Basel. Indeed the ascendent trajectory of the fair bares more than a passing resemblance to London’s native art scene, which has benefitted hugely of late from the energy generated by the emerging galleries and art groups based around the southern hub of Peckham.
It’s a scene that could be seen displaying its wares this year via Jimmy Merris’ Frieze Film oh lord why didst thou make Peckham so beautiful and the life of an artist so short?, composed of a series of local portraits filmed on a makeshift steadicam sellotaped to the end of a bamboo stick. New York also strongly asserted its presence on the fair, with DIS Magazine taking full advantage of the set-pieces offered by the artworks on show to shoot a series of photos which used the gallery spaces as both subject and backdrop to their Frieze Projects Fair Trade piece. Other highlights of the city’s presence at the fair included Ryan Trecartin’s space at Andrea Rosen, featuring both video and sculptural pieces, and Thom Burr’s anxiety-laden interior installations at the Bortolami Gallery. All of this bodes well for the second Frieze New York next May, and more generally for the Frieze brand as a whole, which, if rumours are to be believed, will soon be adding a design fair to its evolving events schedule.