I know that I said that I was going to boycott Frieze but my reader Chloe asked me to reconsider and since I am easy, I said yes and off I went. This year’s Frieze is the logical and tragic, I would say, outcome of its own distinctiveness. If you go to http://friezelondon.com , there is a video where Frieze’s co-founder Matthew Slotover speaks with that parsimoniously annoying posh accent (and the Erik Satie background music does not help) about the way ‘they encourage the galleries to take the fair very seriously in order to exhibit the art’ not as a fair but as a museum. Of course, Frieze people are, in the end, interior decorators without much real idea of what art stand for. I am saying this because the way they talk and refer to it is so affected that no human connection can be achieved at that level but hey ho, this is supposed to be a fair not a museum and maybe that is the problem. By problem, I mean the idea of ‘museum’ and consequently of art that these people have which is not the National Gallery of Scotland (which would qualify as ‘art fair’ because of its visual saturation) but as the DIA Foundation where things are lost in the whitecube as a sign of some sort of ‘spirituality’ or something like that. In other words, the message seems to be, make the art as objectual as possible and put it in the middle of your booth which should be considered by you and your public as a mini- ‘white cube’. The result of the alignment of the mini-whitecubes is Madonna’s ‘Human Nature’ video but with ugly people instead of real dancers.
Needless to say that the result is rather sterile. Ready made works of art, pointless objects, and paintings without figures or composition create a visual environment where the important thing is not the artwork but the tent itself and the people snubbing each other underneath. I would say that Frieze is my least favorite art fair because of that same reason, it claims not to be an art fair so the visitor (after paying the shocking sum of £30-£45) is forced to see the same thing over and over again and pay respects to everything that moves. If that visitor is lucky enough not to have had to pay anything and is considered a VIP, the real torture begins.
I am saying that because one finds oneself subjected to questions like ‘Where did you spend your summer?’ or ‘Have you seen this or that?’. Any discussion about art is unwelcomed and inquiries about pricing are followed by a long panegyric about unlikely waiting lists and one’s inadequacy for that particular work of art that is supposed to go to a museum in Japan….always Japan. Regarding the art, it is clear that the collector of this fair is an institutional one and not a private one. There are no good works for private collectors unless they are tasteless. The big names came to this fair with big statements that transformed the booths into mini-theme parks and I guess there is where the art world is heading which means that the days of Frieze as a modernist fair are counted and we are heading towards Frieze-Art-Land on Regents Park with all sorts of attractions. Jeff Koons and his massive candy at Gagosian is a good example of what I am saying. Perrotin is the same. Lisson is lost in its own cockiness and they seem to have the same works over and over wherever you see them. Lisson’s artists are frozen. They do not evolve. There is no surprise factor anymore and the only possible wonder lies in size which does not refer to artistic skill but to man-power and, eventually, cheap labor.
If we go to the smaller galleries such as Corvi Mora, Herald Street or the Breeder, their work seems unfinished and sketchy. It is as if no one is taking the time of making a proper work of art. There are clear and evident signs of exhaustion. To be continued.