As the yellow taxi boat approached Randall’s Island northwards on East River which runs between Manhattan and Queens, a long white structure makes an appearance, yet unwilling to disclose its content until landing on the seemingly deserted island. Once docked, scores of smartly clad art lovers tread off the taxi boat and into the snaky tent designed by Brooklyn based architect duo SO-IL, but not before walking through a waterside sculpture garden comprising works from James Angus, Joshua Callaghan, Louise Bourgeois, Ernesto Neto, Ryan Gander and so on.
View from the Frieze boat approaching towards Randall’s Island
Adjacent to the venue’s south entrance stands “Shoe Tree” by Swiss artist Christoph Büchel, possibly in support of Occupy movement’s protest rally underway just outside Frieze’s official $20 per vehicle parking lot. Büchel participated in the sculpture garden by placing shopping trolleys stuffed with newspapers and plastic bags behind Subodh Gupta’s bronze stature “Et tu, Duchamp?” Büchel actually bought the trolleys from homeless people for $350–500 a piece. Without any indication of artistic intent (we later found out these are entitled “1%”), Büchel’s piece of quiet resistance will be remembered as one of the most provocative works in the fair, even before entering the main event venue. In addition to the sculpture park, other exterior Frieze projects included Ulla von Brandenburg’s colourful tent for shadow play, Joel Kyack’s carnavalesque van, themed: “Most games are lost, not won”, Uri Aran’s performance shack and many more.
Christoph Büchel, Shoe Tree, 2008/12. Hundreds of shoes were hanging on the tree just by the south entrance.
Although SO-IL’s temporary home for the first edition of Frieze New York housed over 180 international galleries, it still managed to feel spacious and created the ideal atmosphere for an art fair display. As for the content of the fair tent, our expectations of a cutting edge and provocative spectacle has become the branding rationale Frieze is required to live up to. Even after ten years of operation, this is still the deeply ingrained motivation for visitors to come here. However, with last year’s Frieze London in mind and its wide criticism of playing it safe with an easy-to-sell selection of works, the overview of New York’s edition gave an even more orthodox and business driven impression, especially among the blue chip galleries. In this vein, David Zwirner displayed an unexpected selection of minimalist masterpieces. Numerous dealers from the main gallery section presented slick display of solo artists, such as Rudolf Stingel at Gagosian gallery, Anselm Reyle at Contemporary Fine Arts Berlin, Garth Weiser at Altman Siegel Gallery and so on. Similarly, Galerie Eigen + Art showcased Olaf Nicolai’s installation “Why women like to buy textiles that feel nice”, Sadie Coles HQ fronted their booth with Turner prize nominee Spartacus Chetwynd and Victoria Miro reserved a key space in their kiosk for Sarah Sze, who will represent USA at the next Venice Biennale.
Inside view of the SO-IL’s 250,000sqft massive tent.
Macarrone, Stevenson and Gallerie Mezzanin however made slightly bolder statements with their allocated booths, such as with Nicolas Hlobo’s colourfully fabricated installation. Dubai’s The Third Line brought Farhad Moshiri’s cowboy motif in the shape of wall pieces produced in faux native American beadworks, allowing for subtle political irony. Other galleries made obvious choices to suit Americanized flavours, such as Jac Leirner’s series of portraits of James Dean at Galeria Fortes Vilaça and Francesco Vezzoli’s Rococo portrait of Dolly Parton at Galeria Franco Noero.
Olaf Nicolai’s installation ‘Why women like to buy textiles that feel nice’ at Galerie Eigen + Art, Leipzig/Berlin
Entertaining displays also caught the attention of many visitors, including Liz Cohen’s extendable truck at Salon 94, a life-size mannequin with a working nutcracker between her legs by Jennifer Rubell at The Breeder, as well as live face casting demonstrations by Bronx based artist John Ahearn collaborated with Rigoberto Torres. Likewise, Anish Kapoor’s large wall mounted sculpture became one of most popular backdrop for art fair goer snapshots. Within Frame, a section devoted to emerging galleries, young and emerging talents such as the digital photo-collage of Michele Abele made a strong impact at 47 Canal, as did Jose Dávila’s neo-Minimalist work at Figge von Rosen and He An’s broken neon sign installation at Tang Contemporary.
Bronx based artist John Ahearn and collaborator Rigoberto Torres doing live face casting session at Ahearn’s Frieze Projects booth.
As far as sales are concerned, the fair made substantially good results, judging by figures reported in several media. But what did New York make of this inaugural Frieze edition? The city is already saturated with art fairs in its annual calendar. If Frieze does not maintain a consistent brand –of being at the vanguard of contemporary art– then it may loose its competitive edge against all the other art fairs already much more established in the big apple, such as Armory, ADAA, Scope, Independent, Volta and then more.
Here are some M-KOS snapshots taken at the fair.
David Zwirner’s booth showcasing Minimalist masterpieces and reported sales totalling $2.13m after the first day.
Large painting by Anselm Reyle at Contemporary Fine Art, Berlin
Work by Sarah Sze at Victoria Miro, London
All the photos by M-KOS. Related Articles:
The brothers, Oscar Tuazon and Eli Hansen’s Alaskan wood installation and Ann Craven’s painting at Maccarone.
Spartacus Chetwynd’s Jesus and Barabbas puppet show (2011) at the front of the Sadie Coles HQ’s booth
Joel Kyack, Most games are lost, not won, 2012. Frieze Projects
Crack! Crack! Jennifer Rubell’s nutcracker ‘Lysa I’(2012) at The Breeder, Athens
Farhad Moshiri’s beads tableau Shoot ‘Em Up (2011) at The Third Line, Dubai
Francesco Vezzoli’s Dolly Parton at Galleria Franco Noero, Turin
James Dean forever… Jac Leirner’s work (James Dean I” 2004) at Galeria Fortes Vilaça, São Paulo.
Liz Cohen’s extendable truck at Salon 94, NY
Jose Dávila’s neo-Minimalist work at Figge von Rosen, Cologne (Frame)
He An’s broken neon sign installation at Tang Contemporary, Beijing (Frame)
Louise Bourgeois work (Untitled, 2004) in the Sculpture Park
Two Dollar Umbrella (2011) by Joshua Callghan in the Sculpture Park
Closer look on Christoph Büchel, Shoe Tree, 2008/12.
Frieze slowly works its magic in New York [The Art Newspaper]
Frieze New York Makes a Convincing Case for Itself With an Opening Burst of Business [Artinfo]
London’s finest art fair goes stateside [The Independent]
Moving in and moving up [by Jerry Saltz, artnet]
More glitz, less grit, as art fair moves stateside [The Guradian]
Frieze NY Sales [Art Market Monitor]
Frieze New York Inaugural Edition A Triumph [ArtLyst]
All the photos by M-KOS.