Time to close the reports about the Frieze Art Fair (see Frieze part 1: The fun of the fair, Frieze part 2: murders at the art fair and Frieze part 3: The Angry Farmers Milk Bar) with plenty of images and almost no text because sometimes that's all i feel like producing:
David Claerbout's The Homeless Cat deserves a few words of explanation. This interactive, real-time video is synchonized with actual day and night time. The cat on the screen sits, sleeps, gets up, makes a few steps, sits again. However, the atmospheric conditions and the lights in the backdrop are exactly the same as the ones you, the fair (or gallery) visitor, would experience outside at this very moment. If it rains in your city, the cat will stand in front of a city where it rains. If it's night wherever you are, it will be night on the screen as well. The whole effect is controlled by webcams and clever programming. The Homeless Cat is a video that has no end. That said, i found the video absorbing even before i knew about the whole system behind it.
I remembered seeing Alexey Kallima's large scale painting of Chechen Women's Team of Parachute Jumping in New York 4 years ago and it's the one work i'd have bought at Frieze if i'd have been rich enough. Kallima's going to have a solo show at Regina Gallery in London on 23 November - 22 December 2012. I call that a fair consolation prize!
Marcel Van Eeden's charcoal drawings mix film noir and b&w comic strips. I'm quite obsessed with his work.
And now for the uncommented:
This is what you can do with an accordion, rubber and hose.
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.
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.
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:
A dinner of fauna and flora vermin was prepared by Sam Cook of Moro. I read that squirrels were on the menu.
William Pope L. organized a battle of tomatoes.
Margot Henderson cooked and served a 'red meal' for red-headed curators.
Alistair Frost offered post-watercooler alcopops.
Yangjiang Group made calligraphy with the leftover food from previous meals.
Previously: Frieze part 1: The fun of the fair.
I review books about art, architecture, design and activism because that's part of my job. It doesn't hurt that i'm usually sent fantastic books. The only literature you will find on my kindle however is of the criminal kind: Stuart MacBride, Jo nesbø, Jussi Adler-Olsen, etc. The more gruesome the description, the more serial the killer, the happier i am.
The drawings are of women found in newspapers, magazines, books and the Internet. In this work the artist explores an outsider construction of femininity through violence, deviancy, criminality, and radical politics in stark opposition to traditional notions of patriarchy.
Among the protagonists were: Lynndie England convicted in connection with the torture and prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, Lizzie Borden suspected of having killed her father and stepmother with an axe, Irma Grese who was employed at the concentration camps of Ravensbrück and Auschwitz where she picked out large breasted women and cut their breasts open with her whip, Fiona Mont aka "Britain's Most Wanted Woman", Griselda Blanco "La Madrina" (the Godmother) who was a drug lord for the Medellín Cartel, Sandra Ávila Beltrán the Mexican drug cartel leader nicknamed "La Reina del Pacífico", sisters Teresa and Maria Zappia, leaders of Calabrian crime syndicate, Chinese Empress Dowager Tzu-hsi , etc.
For as long as i looked at their face and read the crude description of these women's crimes, everything outside the booth ceased to exist for me. So much evil. Yet, because they were women or maybe because of the way they were drawn i never managed to see them as total monsters, Except that Irma Grese, the lady in high socks below:
One of the Frieze commissions was part art gallery with blood on its walls and floor, part forensic lab, part video fiction. Aslı Çavuşoğlu and a professional crime drama crew and actors spent 3 days in a fairly small space shooting a crime and its forensic reconstitution.
Two of the main sources of inspiration for Murder in Three Acts were forensics and the representation of art in tv crime series. In some tv episodes indeed artworks aren't just part of the background, they are a key element in scripts that use exhibitions as crime scenes and art works as murder weapons. The artist sees also forensic science as a way of reenacting past events. A role that art can play as well.
The project drew links between the role of evidence in a televised crime scene and real artworks justifying themselves in the sphere of speculation and invited special 'advisors' and visitors to participate in discussions with the professional cast and crew.
The Peter Kilchmann gallery was showing works by an artist who always gets my attention: Teresa Margolles.
For a whole year, during 2010, Margolles collected and digitalized the covers of PM, the local newspaper from Ciudad Juárez, a city sadly renowned for the violence perpetrated by the drug cartels. Because almost everyday, somebody died a victim of the Mexican drug wars, the cover almost inevitably showed a scene of crime with a corpse right next to a pin-ups. The covers were presented as pages of a big book. Flipping through them i never realized they were real covers of tabloids. The contrast between the images was too stark, the content too relentlessly lurid. Until i read that it was a piece by Teresa Margolles, an artist who can horrify with the most mundane elements: an air conditioning system, a flag, a bracelet, etc.
This volume witnesses the collapse of the social fabric and at the same time the resilience of the community of the border city.
Her gallery was also showing photographs of trees. I didn't find any information about the photos but i suspect the worst. Because the series is called El testigo (The Witness), i can only assume that murders took place under the cover of those trees.
The Frieze art fair dismantled its tents a few days ago at Regent's Park in London. Last year's edition disappointed me. This year, however, i liked it so much i went twice. I even walked to the other end of the park to visit Frieze Masters (that one was selling anything in between and including the medieval gargoyles and the photos by Richard Avedon.) Over the next few days, i will submit the blog to an avalanche of images and works from the fair. Let's start light and very fast with a few art pieces that demonstrate that even artists shown at art fairs have a sense of humour:
Four years ago, Daniel Knorr put balaclavas on the head of public sculptures in Copenhagen. The Galleria Fonti from Naples had a wall covered in photos that documented the intervention.
I should mention the entrance to the fair. A floor to wall carpeting of shoes in green, yellow, black and red.
The La Vache qui rit cow laughing at your feet and bum inside the fair was by the same artist Thomas Bayrle. Both were commissioned Frieze Projects.
That magnificent wallpaper on the external walls of the booth of Gavin Brown's Enterprise? Thomas Bayrle again!
The pink carpet at Pilar Corrias' booth however was by Koo Jeong A:
Speaking of pink (it was pink but my ever colour-blind camera wouldn't admit it)... Nothing like a walrus by Carsten Höller to brighten your day:
From a series of ultra absurd Talking Objects by Laurie Simmons:
This one wasn't supposed to be funny: