Frieze part 3: The Angry Farmers Milk Bar

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Bring me home, please

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Fernando Garcia-Dory, Angry Farmers Milk Bar, 2012 (From left to right: Glyn Roberts, Fernando García-Dory and Hazel Wright. Image Farming UK)

I had the grand plan of writing a post focusing on anything "socially &politically-engaged" i could spot at Frieze. As the less naive than i am might have forecast, the art fair's main objective wasn't to satisfy my quest. It did however a few gems. Fernando García-Dory's Angry Farmers Milk Bar was one of them.

The Spanish artist and activist invited members of the Farmers' Union of Wales to run a milk bar at the fair. Pints of milk were offered at a price visitors were willing to pay.

The small bar gave farmers an opportunity to discuss with customers, hand out information leaflets and voice their concerns about the inadequate prices paid to them by supermarkets for their milk and more generally about the critical state of farming in Wales and England.

Wales has about 1,900 dairy farmers but their number of farmers is in sharp decline. Today, Wales count 40% fewer dairy farmers than in 2002.

I found the project touching, intelligent and convincing. I doubt many of the visitors of the fair are the ones on the lookout for BOGOF offers at Tesco and they probably don't pay much attention to the price of milk before reaching for a bottle at the supermarket, but many were eager to listen to the farmer's anxieties and reflect on what the fair price for a pint of milk might be.

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Fernando Garcia-Dory, Angry Farmers Milk Bar, 2012

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Fernando Garcia-Dory, Angry Farmers Milk Bar, 2012

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Fernando Garcia-Dory, Angry Farmers Milk Bar, 2012

The Angry Farmers Milk Bar was part of a much broader food-related programme of performance, debates, meals, and market food stalls hosted by Frieze Foundation and the Grizedale Arts Project, an art organization cum working farm based in the Lake District. The various events and projects took place inside and around the Colisseum of the Consumed, a bespoke structure designed by The Yangjiang Group. The construction resembled a Roman amphitheatre. Visitors could climb up to the platform to watch the performances from above or walk around the outer colonnade to buy horse milk, dumplings 'made from oppressed potatoes', fortune cookies containing art messages, cakes and other goods produced by invited organizations. I got myself a small bowl of Ruskin Grave Soup containing vegetable "grown on Ruskin's grave." It cost 2 pounds and that was probably the only thing i could afford at the art fair.

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Grizedale Arts & Yangjiang Group, Colosseum of the Consumed', 2012. Commissioned and produced by Frieze Foundation for Frieze Projects 2012 (Photograph by Polly Braden)

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Eastside Projects. Grizedale Arts & Yangjiang Group, Colosseum of the Consumed', 2012 (Photograph by Polly Braden)

Grizedale Arts is a publicly funded arts organisation which might in part explain why i found the Colosseum of the Consumed so pertinent to my usual concerns. The whole programme was also a big, entertaining party. Here's a few examples of events that took place at the Colosseum during the fair:

"Teasing out his deep well of unreasoned hatred of the curator class," Bedwyr Williams performed an autopsy on a curator made of cake. People were invited to eat the body parts afterwards.

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Bedwyr Williams, Curator Autopsy, 2012. Part of Grizedale Arts & Yangjiang Group, Colosseum of the Consumed' (Photograph by Linda Nylind)

A dinner of fauna and flora vermin was prepared by Sam Cook of Moro. I read that squirrels were on the menu.

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Vermin Dinner, 2012. Part of Grizedale Arts & Yangjiang Group, Colosseum of the Consumed' (Photograph by Polly Braden)

William Pope L. organized a battle of tomatoes.

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William Pope L, 'Tomato Shy, 2012. Part of Grizedale Arts & Yangjiang Group, Colosseum of the Consumed' (Photograph by Polly Braden)

Margot Henderson cooked and served a 'red meal' for red-headed curators.

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Ginger Dinner with Margot Henderson, 2012. Part of Grizedale Arts & Yangjiang Group, Colosseum of the Consumed' (Photograph by Polly Braden)

Alistair Frost offered post-watercooler alcopops.

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Alistair Frost, Salon of Dietary Disobedience, 2012. Part of Grizedale Arts & Yangjiang Group, Colosseum of the Consumed' (Photograph by Polly Braden)

Yangjiang Group made calligraphy with the leftover food from previous meals.

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Yangjiang Group, Dining and Calligraphy, 2012. Part of Grizedale Arts & Yangjiang Group, Colosseum of the Consumed' (Photograph by Polly Braden)

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