A Walk Through The Art: Frieze Week 2016 London


Hauser & Wirth, Frieze Art Fair, Frieze, Frieze 2016, Frieze London

Frieze Art Fair. Hauser & Wirth’s booth: L’Atelier d’artistes


All in one week. And the mantra is: the more, the better. As usual, since the first edition of the Frieze Art Fair in 2003, as the autumn wind starts blowing onto London’s streets, a hectic vibe spreads within the capital’s art world, and anyone cannot resist to work proactively to give their own contribution to the overall show – a celebration of the newest, the glamorous, the unseen, the weird.

I must be honest, I am myself thrilled about the frenetic spirit which contradistinguishes this week, and once again this year I have ventured around the most promising venues, in the epic act of putting together an enviable reportage of the Frieze Week – and, of course, I failed. Maybe I should blame the many free drinks, or just the impossibility for a single human being to be in more than one place at once, but also a maturated awareness that most likely all these rituals will repeat themselves in a year’s time.


David Shrigley, Frieze Art Fair, Frieze, Frieze 2016, Frieze London

Forth Plinth Commission 2016 | David Shrigley, Really Good


For me, everything started on the weekend before the crucial week, when a giant sculpture of a hand with its disproportionately huge thumb up landed on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. Unveiled enthusiastically by the new Mayor Sadiq Khan, Really Good by artist David Shrigley represents a sarcastic attempt to look at the nefarious events of this summer with an incredulous smile, showing a shaky but still positive feeling for the days ahead in this city.

The 14th edition of Frieze Art Fair hosted its private view on Wednesday 05th October with the usual accompaniment of champagne toasts, after-parties and events. In those few hours the social networks had yet elected the favourite pieces of the eclectic opening crowd: beyond doubt, Pink Project. Table: 1994-2016 at P.P.O.W, an obsessive collection of discarded objects made of pink plastic by Portia Munsonn (summarising the renewed organizers’ intention of featuring presentations by major female artists in the main section of the fair); and the crowed Seventeen stand with Jon Rafman’s Trans Dimensional Serpent, a shiny sculpture of a snake with incorporated seats and virtual reality components which bring fair-goers in virtual, mythical worlds.


Seventeen Gallery, Jon Rafman, Frieze Art Fair, Frieze, Frieze 2016, Frieze London

Frieze Art Fair. Seventeen: Jon Rafman, Trans Dimensional Serpent


Just a short walk from there, and we encounter another novice at the fair: South London gallery Arcadia Missa, which presents, among the others, a scenic installation by Jesse Darling, made of red children seat mounted on precariously high steel legs. Guatemala and Taipei also see their first national participation at the London fair with, respectively, Proyectos Ultravioleta and Chi-Wen Gallery.

The list of fair attractions continues with the boozy social sculptures by the Brazilian art collective OPAVIVARÁ!, brought here from the streets of Rio de Janeiro by the gallery A Gentil Carioca; the overcrowded Hauser & Wirth booth, transformed in an artist studio; a new sculptural work by Philippe Parreno, made of sparkly red balloons on top of Shahzia Sikander’s video-animation Sun at Pilar Corrias; a booth designed by artist Goshka Macuga, Galerie Rudiger Schottle; and Ryan Gander’s Elevator to the Culturefield at Johnen Galerie, apparently permanently out of order.


Arcadia Missa, Jesse Darling, Frieze Art Fair, Frieze, Frieze 2016, Frieze London

Frieze Art Fair. Arcadia Missa: Jesse Darling, March of the Valedictorians


Not even the lavatories have been left to chance this year, as artist Julie Verhoeven decided to set her Frieze Project here, by creating a playful architectural and performative intervention at the fair’s main toilet complex (The Toilet Attendant… Now Wash Your Hands). In “Looking at Projects,” the section dedicated to not-for-profit programmes, a mention is due to Yuri Pattison, winner of the Frieze Art Award, who realised a networked artwork based on trending technologies that collect data from the fair’s environment and visualise information on ‘Big Board’ screens, exploring systems of interpretation or control [Insights (crisis trolley)].


Yuri Pattison, Frieze Art Fair, Frieze, Frieze 2016, Frieze London

Frieze Artist Award 2016: Yuri Pattison, Insights (crisis trolley)


This edition of the Frieze art fair has also seen the launch of a new section, “The Nineties,” curated by Nicolas Trembley, where galleries revisited seminal exhibitions from that decade which have determined new approaches on the themes of authorship, curating, performance and participation. Among the highlights: a room from the iconic R.W.F. project by Dominique Gonzales-Foerster at Esther Schipper; excerpts from Aperto ’93 at the Venice Biennale (at Massimo DeCarlo); Pierre Joseph’s Characters to Be Reactivated at Air de Paris. I have to confess: as a Nineties teenager, I could not help but spend a good twenty minutes at the Galerie Buchholz stand, presenting a 1:1 reconstruction of Wolfgang Tillmans’ first gallery exhibition in 1993 at then Buchholz & Buchholz in Cologne.


Zabludowicz Collection, Donna Huanca, Frieze Art Fair, Frieze, Frieze 2016, Frieze London

Zabludowicz Collection: Donna Huanca, Melting Hair/Water Scars


Performance played an essential part in this long Frieze Week, and not only the Live program at the fair. The popular “Evening of Performances” at the David Roberts Art Foundation has returned on time on Thursday 6th with Roman Ondak, Amalia Ulman, Goshka Macuga, Mark Wallinger, and Mary Hurrell. The latter presented a new piece, staged by three dancers expanding their body through the sound generated by garments and movements. The Zabludowicz Collection also hosted a live event on Friday, featuring ten models who activated Donna Huanca’s installations, currently on view at the venue, to create a ceremonial and transient environment.

Back at the fair, I have just finished watching the performance Nap Disturbance by Christine Sun Kim (Carroll/Fletcher), exploring together with a group of deaf and hearing performers the materiality of sounds through everyday gestures. It is almost 2:00 pm and, even though I have really enjoyed the piece, I am now feeling dizzy, probably out of the high dosage of repeated art-related incitements in a short time. My report will then finish here, and while I am walking along the Sculpture Park in the English Gardens of Regent Park, suddenly a dreadful doubt hits my mind: should I have spared some change to The Toilet Attendant after my visit?


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by Manu Buttiglione
in A Walk Through The Art

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