anarchist book fair london
‘Column’ by Kutlug Ataman (2008) Thomas Dane Gallery. Illustration by Jenny Costello.
Unlike the formidable ‘fashion pack’ who rear their waspish heads every 6 months, website like this the art crowd – a jolly army of jacquard pashminas, drugs trilby hats and black horn-rimmed glasses – tend to be a more pleasant bunch. But visiting last Sunday’s Frieze Art Fair with so many of them arriving in droves, especially families (wanting little Cuthbert and Horatio to get a good cultural grounding early on) made standing in front of a particular artwork trying to ‘get’ it fairly difficult, especially when there’s someone behind you with a camera, waiting for you to get out of the way. Swarming crowds aside, the participating galleries delivered up their usual array of weird and wonderful delights. My personal favourite was ‘Clowd and Cloun’ by New York artist Roni Horn, of Eve Presenhuber Gallery, Zurich a series of images featuring a clown’s head in rapid movement (if you’ve never gotten over the film ‘IT’ like myself, then this is for you!)
Section from ‘Clowd and Cloun (Gray)’ by Roni Horn (2001) Eve Presenhuber Gallery. Photo by Viola Levy.
More macabre and disturbing was Berlinde de Bruyckere’s ‘Lingam’ (2010) from the Zurich Gallery Hauser & Wirth– a grotesque ‘lump of flesh’ suspended in a dome-like structure, with two legs indicating that it might have once been a person. Other works attracting attention was Belfast artist Cathy Wilkes’ intriguing installation ‘The Sea of Galilee’ (2009) courtesy of Berlin’s Giti Nourbakhsch Gallery. Featuring a scattered collection of battered objects including a life-size female figurine and a child’s nativity scenes, the work provided an intriguing reflection on religion and physical embodiment. New York’s David Zwiner Gallery unearthed ‘Trump’ (1998) a dazzling early work by Chris Ofili which demonstrates the artist’s unique manipulation of colour and texture at its most jaw-dropping (I was brought out of my awe-stricken trance by exclamations of: “Mummy, is that ELEPHANT poo?! Get over it!)
‘Trump’ by Chris Ofili (1998) David Zwiner. Photo by Linda Nylind courtesy of Frieze.
And the Lehmen Maupin Gallery also in New York, presented enfant terrible Tracey Emin at her provocative best with ‘Dark Hole’ (2009) – a work which among other things, takes the traditional feminine art form of embroidery and turns it on its head (quite literally some might say!)
‘Dark Hole’ by Tracey Emin (2009) Lehmen Maupin. Photo by Viola Levy.
Frieze Projects Curator Sarah McCrory provided an engaging and accessible diversion from the serious business of browsing the works on display (and trying to chat to tired and grumpy gallery owners!) The bemused feelings of many newcomers to the art scene were summed up by Annika Ström’s project ‘Ten Embarrassed Men’ where ten be-suited corporate types shuffled around the festival looking suitably awkward (but one of them still managed to tacitly flirt with my companion to her amusement!)
Annika Ström’s‘Ten Embarrassed Men.’ Photo by Linda Nylind courtesy of Frieze
And ‘Frozen’ by Cartier award-winning Simon Fujiwara took visitors on a tour of excavation sites, mostly seen through glass in certain areas below the floor of the Frieze exhibition space. Depicting a fictional Roman settlement described as “bawdy, materialistic and gender-equal,” the project was explained as the artist’s attempt to return to art in its purist form before the advent of Christianity made it “inextricably linked to piety and morality.” I wasn’t too sure how relevant this statement was given how seemingly little influence Christianity has over art today, but the project still appealed to my inner ancient-history buff!
Section from Simon Fujiwara’s ‘Frozen’ Installation. Photo by Polly Braden courtesy of Frieze
Outside in The Sculpture Park, the endless green fields of Regents Park were a welcome break from the slightly suffocating atmosphere inside the tent, and visitors were allowed more freedom to engage with the works on display. Artist Gavin Turk’s “Les Bikes de Bois Rond” was a big hit, allowing visitors to hop on a bike, cycle round the park and return to collect their certificate on ‘having participated in an art work.’ It’s a shame many other art exhibitions can’t take place in the open air.
Gavin Turk’s ‘Les Bikes du Bois Rond’ Photo by Linda Nylind courtesy of Frieze
On the Frieze Film side, Linder’s Forgetful Green stole the show in comparison to the other more abstract films presented. Shot by Vogue photographer Tim Walker, the film was an ode to hazy drunken summer days, with its motley crew of hedonistic characters (including Linder herself) painted in garish colours, who gorge on rose petals and birthday cake, and roll around fields of flowers in debauched ecstasy – in Richard Nicoll outfits naturally! I wanted to jump in the film, don a wig and some false eyelashes and throw birthday cake around with them for eternity…
Stills from Forgetful Green, from CT Editions: The Protagonist
Although many are now championing the smaller and more independent art fairs, when it comes to Frieze, it’s important to look beyond the corporate trimmings, and the bustling crowds, as it still remains the best way to digest all that’s new and exciting in the art world in one (admittedly exhausting!) afternoon.
‘Map of the World in Ties and Jackets’ by Jonathan Monk (2009), Lisson Gallery. Illustration by Jenny Costello.
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