Amelia’s Magazine | Frieze Art Fair 2011: Exhibition Review

Salon 94 at Frieze Art Fair 2011.

It shouldn’t really be possible to deduce trends in the art world, approved should it? Yet that is exactly what I was able to do at Frieze Art Fair. By housing a spectacular array of galleries all alongside each other in vast tents, dosage some with work by the same artist shown on different continents, medicine the sameness of much art is highlighted. And I say trends because none of these similarities can really be named a movement, not when the artists are flung so far and wide that they can have no possible involvement with each other than a fleeting knowledge gleaned from the media or touring art shows.

This year the biggest trends seemed to follow only a couple of themes.. deducible even as I zipped around the fair in a matter of hours. I must admit that I make judgements on what I like within milliseconds at such events, so by default most of the art that I picked up on were things that spoke to me (and not always for a good reason).

After by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster.

Frieze-Art-Fair-2011-review From the River-Christina-Mackie
From the River by Christina Mackie at Herald St.

Frieze-Art-Fair-2011-review-Map of Truths and Beliefs by Grayson-Perry
Map of Truths and Beliefs by Grayson Perry.

Isa Genzken.

Neon letter artwork and giant typography in general are popular (Tracey Emin, hello), as are craft inspired pieces that pile together assortments of materials to create something that often looks similar to a school art project. Add to this ceramics, tapestry (Grayson Perry, you have a lot to answer for, and I love you) and old toys, and the potential to create something exciting becomes seriously viable – though that line between primary school art project and stroke of genius is often hard to distinguish.

David Altmejd at Andrea Rosen Gallery.

Frieze-Art-Fair-2011-review-Ramiken Crucible by Andra-Ursuta
Ramiken Crucible by Andra Ursuta.

This trend sometimes crosses over with a very strong theme that says a lot about the spiritual deficit of our current lives: curious creations that bear significant reference to tribal deities and animist beliefs but also often with strong links to our present lives. Think crystallised heads on sticks, strange shaped skulls with flapping teeth, a flattened woman who looks like she’s just been removed from a peat bog: her body glistens with a jelly like substance, yet she wears trainers.

Joy by Tomoaki Suzuki.

Elmgreen and Dragset.

In opposition to this present day esotericism I also found realistic figures in banal situations, often in miniature size. Or play dead, high heels and Blackberry at the feet or a morgue trolley. Ring a bell, Ron Mueck?

Doppelganger (Blue) by Peter Liversidge.

Frieze-Art-Fair-2011-review-Gert-and-Uwe-Tobias Contemporary Fine Arts Berlin
Gert and Uwe Tobias at Contemporary Fine Arts Berlin.

Odd arrangements of objet trouvé on shelves have never been more popular. As ever I was also attracted to all the colourful decorative paintings. Aesthetically pleasing, and close in many ways to illustration.

Pierre Huyghe: Recollection.

And then of course there was the hermit crab in Pierre Huyghe‘s Recollection. That funny creature in a darkened room, benignly going about his own business in a small tank with only smaller creatures for friends. He bears a sculpted head on his back ( a replica of Brancussi’s Sleeping Muse) as he is coo-ed over by the moneyed hordes, marvelling at out total dominion over nature. But maybe the last laugh is on us? For what cares the hermit crab where he makes his bed.

Colourful art world characters.

In the past I have been put off attending Frieze Art Fair by what I have heard about the experience. And it was, indeed, a bizarre one. Whilst the plethora of artwork on display undoubtedly provides loads of inspiration, I think a whistle stop tour is necessary to weed out all the dross (of which there is much) and retain a modicum of sanity. But the event undeniably left a curiously icky feeling inside: I’ve never seen so many rich people in one place, and Frieze stank of serious wealth. Ridiculous, unnecessary wealth, of the kind that sucks the lifeblood out of whole nations and forces us to reevaluate our connection the universe. Do you sense the irony? We all know that art is a huge commodity in our money obsessed times, but here it is laid bare for all to see… and it’s disheartening to realise just how much the art world relies on the buying and selling powers of the mega rich to survive. Surely art is about more than this?

Frieze Art Fair continues until Sunday 16th October – you can visit the Sculpture Park for free, more details here.

Categories ,Andra Ursuta, ,Andrea Rosen Gallery, ,Animist, ,berlin, ,Brancussi, ,Christina Mackie, ,Contemporary Fine Arts, ,craft, ,David Altmejd, ,Deities, ,Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, ,Doppelganger (Blue), ,Elmgreen and Dragset, ,Frieze Art Fair, ,Gert and Uwe Tobias, ,Grayson Perry, ,Herald St, ,Hermit Crab, ,Isa Genzken, ,Joy, ,Magic, ,Neon, ,Objet Trouvé, ,Peter Liversidge, ,Pierre Huyghe, ,Pottery, ,Recollection, ,Ron Mueck, ,Salon 94, ,School Art Project, ,Sleeping Muse, ,spiritual, ,Tapestry, ,Tomoaki Suzuki, ,Tracey Emin, ,typography

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Amelia’s Magazine | Favourite Christmas Indie Tunes for 2012: listen to the best here!

christmas olive grove by bex bourne
Christmas Olive Grove by Bex Bourne, based on As A Child I Awoke by Jo Mango.

A hugely successful Christmas tune is the holy grail for many musicians: just think how many times Fairytale of New York has been played. With royalties like that you’d never need to work again, not that this is the only motivating factor for the majority of musicians. It would just be nice, wouldn’t it, to have a song played every year… welcomed back like a much missed friend and enjoyed once more as if it were new. All of which is great because it means that every time the Christmas season swings around there is a host of brilliant new themed tunes to add to the mix, each hoping for a slice of immortality.

One release that is raising money for charity is the Olive Grove Records EP which features three original recordings and a cover of that famous Muppets song One More Sleep ’til Christmas.

For Folk's Sake it's Christmas 2012
For Folk’s Sake it’s Christmas 2012 cover illustrated by Sarah Oxley.

For Folk’s Sake It’s Christmas returns with another album featuring an absolutely stellar mix of tunes by the likes of Goodnight Lenin, Boat to Row and many others I don’t know but probably should. If you buy one thing this season make it this: the hard copy album has long since sold out but you can get the digital version for a piddling £7 and all profits go to the Evelina Children’s Hospital. It’s also worth downloading previous versions too.

Zombie Christmas by Lorna Scobie
Zombie Christmas by Lorna Scobie.

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Other returnees are Tim Wheeler and Emmy the Great, who have created a new video to celebrate their Zombie Christmas, just one track from last year’s fab Christmas album. Armed only with an assortment of decorations they must defend themselves from their foes, mid gig.

Kate Nash adopts that most seasonal of instruments, the sleigh bell, for Faith, her lo fi paen to the end of a tough year. It’s a taster of her new grungey sound, with a bass driven melody that segues into some pretty retro style harmonies.

Holiday Joy by Jacqueline Valencia
Holiday Joy by Jacqueline Valencia.

One of my favourite new tracks this season is a cover of Mary Margaret O’Hara’s Evermore by Cold Specks, a gloriously cosy song that makes me want to curl up next to a roaring log fire.

Tracey Thorn has released a collection of Christmas songs entitled Tinsel & Lights which comes accompanied with an innovative bit of marketing: open the doors on this virtual advent calendar to find a series of links leading to exclusive material. I like Joy… which is a self-penned tale of defiant seasonal celebration and In the Cold Cold Night is suitably frosty.

In the Cold Cold Night by-Christine-Charnock
In the Cold Cold Night by Christine Charnock. Tracey Thorn’s ‘In the Cold, Cold Night’ has dark and mysterious undertones to it which I wanted to reflect in my illustration response. The song creates an atmosphere of longing and loneliness, and a determination to find companionship in whatever way possible.

You can always bank on Darren Hayman for something a bit different: this year’s seasonal ditty concerns Oliver Cromwell‘s efforts to ban the festive occasion. He failed, luckily.

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A really sweet video accompanies Dog is Dead‘s cover of Paul McCartney‘s classic Wonderful Christmastime.

Dog is Dead - Wonderful Christmastime Music Illustration by Sharon Farrow
Dog is Dead – Wonderful Christmastime by Sharon Farrow. I tried to take elements of the song and I wanted to include several Christmassy things: reindeer, snow, the tree, crackers, along with the humorous elements of the video. Hence the Christmas jumpers and the veneration of the humble (but essential Christmas delight!) brussel sprout. Where would be without them this time of year? The Christmas jumpers are also a nod to the Save the Children Christmas jumper campaign.

Tender Trap‘s Christmas tune Leaving Christmas Day tells the tale of a girl who discovers that her boyfriend is a Creationist Christian.

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Rock band The Hype Theory cover Winter Wonderland with silky female vocals

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The Other Guys is an A Cappella choir from St Andrews University and their Christmas Gets Worse Every Year is a beautifully sung reminder that sometimes nothing beats a classic bit of choral singing at Christmas time.

Christmas Gets Worse Every Year by Suky Goodfellow
Christmas Gets Worse Every Year by Suky Goodfellow.

The Voluntary Butler Scheme have released seasonal melody Quinzhee (Building Us A House Out Of Snow) with a grainy film of wintery figures building an igloo.

Katy Edelsten illustrates The Voluntary Butler Scheme
Katy Edelsten illustrates The Voluntary Butler Scheme – House out of Snow. I wanted to create something that mixed the breezy tone of the song with the simple lyrics, I settled on the castle made of snow because i thought it captured both the the air of the song and the dreamy-Beach Boys-esque haze of the lyrics. The colours and naive style were also executed for this reason. 

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Dan Croll gets into the spirit with his cover of Low‘s Just Like Christmas, accompanied by a kitsch video in which he smears his face in chocolate and luxuriates in a bubble bath whilst wearing a woolly jumper and smoking a pipe. Go on, watch it. It’s Christmas time everyone! Enjoy x

Katy Edelsten illustrates Dan Croll - 'Just Like Christmas'
Katy Edelsten illustrates Dan Croll – Just Like Christmas. I was inspired by the artist himself- as the video is pretty captivating! I wanted something quite whimsical, with no line breaks, as the lyrics repeat and continue. I used a continuous line, in conjunction with pale colours, to depict the artist as Father Christmas. Inspired by the song (and Movember perhaps) I incorporated the song title into Dan Croll’s beard.

Light the Night by Roshni Annia
Inspired by Light the Night to accompany the new film The Snowman and The Snowdog by Roshni Annia.

Categories ,2012, ,A Cappella, ,As A Child I Awoke, ,Bex Bourne, ,Boat to Row, ,Choir, ,Choral, ,Christine Charnock, ,Christmas, ,Christmas Gets Worse Every Year, ,Cold Specks, ,Dan Croll, ,Darren Hayman, ,Dog is Dead, ,Evelina Children’s Hospital, ,Evermore, ,Fairytale of New York, ,Faith, ,folk, ,For Folk’s Sake It’s Christmas, ,Goodnight Lenin, ,In the Cold Cold Night, ,Indie, ,Jacqueline Valencia, ,Jo Mango, ,Joy, ,Just Like Christmas, ,Kate Nash, ,Katy Edelsten, ,Leaving Christmas Day, ,Light the Night, ,Lorna Scobie, ,low, ,Mary Margaret O’Hara, ,Muppets, ,Olive Grove Records EP, ,Oliver Cromwell, ,One More Sleep ’til Christmas, ,Paul McCartney, ,Quinzhee (Building Us A House Out Of Snow), ,Roshni Annia, ,Sarah Oxley, ,Save The Children, ,Sharon Farrow, ,St Andrews University, ,Suky Goodfellow, ,Tender Trap, ,The Hype Theory, ,The Other Guys, ,The Snowman and The Snowdog, ,The Voluntary Butler Scheme, ,Tim Wheeler and Emmy the Great, ,Tinsel & Lights, ,Tracey Thorn, ,Tunes, ,Winter Wonderland, ,Wonderful Christmastime, ,Zombie Christmas

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