Opinion

Frieze Art Fair 2010 Heats Up Online

Annika Ström, “Ten Embarrassed Men” (2010) (image from blog.art21.org) (click to enlarge)

Out across the pond, there’s an art fair going on. Only slightly overshadowed by the Ai Weiwei Turbine Hall installation debacle, London’s Frieze Art Fair has been soldiering on nonetheless to bring collectors to the art, and vice versa. We’ve combed over the internet to bring you some impressions of the fair, the quality of the work on display, and the possibility of a newly invigorated market. Optimism still hasn’t frozen over!

  • The Guardian has the best coverage of the fair, including two complete reviews. First off, Adrian Searle. The critic seems entranced and amused by Frieze 2010’s antics, but despite the bubbly snark of his review, he concludes, “This year, the general standard seems to be down” for art. Nevertheless, he takes care to point to the things he likes, including a boy on a diving board by Elmgreen and Dragset, and everyone’s favorite, David Shrigley.
  • We’d also like to point out that the cat-bus performance by Spartacus Chetwynd mentioned by Searle is actually drawn from the Studio Ghibli anime film My Neighbor Totoro. Dude, manga isn’t “animated”!
  • Next up, Tim Adams. The critic’s piece in the Guardian‘s Observer is considerably less amused and more sarcastic than Searle, continuously noting how the fair is more “retail experience” a la high-end malls than a good place to contemplate art. Overall the fair is a commercialist disappointment with “minor moments of transcendence” including a film in which Mark Wallinger writes his name on lots of brick walls. Sounds cool.
  • Meanwhile, Jessica Lack does a useful round up of the best art experiences outside of Frieze’s £27 entrance fee. Of particular note is Christian Marclay’s “The Clock” at White Cube, presenting a video collage of clocks from an infinite variety of movies.
  • Don’t miss The Economist‘s market coverage of Frieze and its environs. “The market has moved beyond recovery mode,” says Oliver Barker, the auctioneer of Sotheby’s Frieze-centered sale. Good news!
  • ArtInfo lists its best and worst of Frieze 2010, including the Beijing-based Platform Gallery, Elizabeth Dee (again with the Trecartin!), and the cool sounding Indian Experimenter gallery.
  • T Magazine‘s Linda Yablonsky calls Frieze and London itself “a theme park of packaged ideals,” which calls to mind a very moralistic circus or something, but maybe I’m misinterpreting. She writes mostly about parties in this entertaining diary entry, which is cool for the voyeur in all of us.
  • David Velasco rehashes the fair in a classic Artforum Scene and Herd that features a picture of Pavement-frontman Steven Malkmus at the fair (!?!?). Velasco notes that the fair was pretty good for dealers, and that Jay Jopling was happy. There were also “wan salesgirls” and masturbatory parties, but what did you expect?
  • Over at Art21, Ben Street gives a picture of Frieze 2010 as “a selling event that has transformed itself into a cultural one.” “Watching the art world at work” is more fun than seeing the art itself. Street checks out the Sunday Art Fair, a more indie alternative to Frieze’s shopping center, and finds the work more refreshing, especially a hole-punched money collage by Jack Strange at Limoncello gallery.
  • Here at Hyperallergic, our very own Janelle Grace gives her impressions, noting the five things she actually remembered about the fair, which is clearly as overwhelming as the Wal-Mart it resembles.
  • Simon Fujiwara seems to have stolen the show with his project at Frieze 2010. The installation/performance/whatever artist mocks the art and luxury world with a series of underground archaeological digs visible through glass in the fair’s floor. The faux digs include “the skeleton of a dead artist under the floor, a crumbling ancient art market, broken columns, and a promise of instant gratification.”
  • Another attention-grabbing piece is Annika Ström‘s “Ten Embarrassed Men,” ten middle-aged actors who “patrol the fair looking for images of women to be embarrassed by.” (Searle) The picture looks hilarious.

For a fair called out for overwhelming commercialism, the actual art on view at Frieze 2010 seems to be pretty worthwhile. The dealers are happy too, with a buzzier market coming back and collectors more than willing to snap up some new pieces. This year represents a new step in Frieze’s artist-led projects with Fujiwara and Ström, so here’s to hoping that keeps up, and the art continues to be interesting. Because, face it, it’s always going to feel like a dressed-up yard sale.

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