Frieze is an international contemporary art fair, which takes place every October in London’s Regent’s Park. Frieze 2013 showcased the second year of the much talked about “Frieze Masters”. Arriving at the show tent an hour early on Frieze’s opening day, everyone could already tell exactly how successful the fair was going to be. Queue’s were being controlled all the way back to the Tube station, about 7 blocks long.
Upon entering the show tent, you’re momentarily overwhelmed and taken out of the hustle and bustle of Zone 1, London. I’d heard a lot of great things about Frieze; a lot of people were extremely envious of my press pass, especially as a student new to the art scene. The fair itself was organized like a New York grid system. Each “street” as it were, representing different galleries from a particular area of the world.
If you’re a sculpture fan, Frieze 2013 was one hundred percent for you. From traffic cones with gawping googly eyes, to a 26 foot hollow bellied mother, the fair is crawling with inexplicably creative sculptures. A piece in particular which stayed with me is Ron Mueck’s “Woman With Shopping”. Depicting a woman clad in her frumpy coat, armed with orange shopping bags, with a baby nestled under her chin, Mueck’s piece brings the Frieze viewers crashing back down to Earth. With so much grandeur in every nook and cranny of Frieze, “Woman With Shopping” reminds us of the struggles many of us are lucky enough to divert. The desperate eyes of the figure is what makes it so heart wrenching, the teary gaze makes the other 99 materialistic percent of Frieze seem completely insignificant.
I was disappointed by the lack of Photography at Frieze. There were the odd few pieces, Barbera Kruger’s “Endless War/You will live forever” towered over the crowd. Ryan McGinley’s “You & My Friends” was a personal favorite along with Musée’s previously featured Canan, making an appearance.
Although the artwork itself at Frieze was stunning, throughout my time in the show tent I felt looked over by the bustling studio clerks. Whenever I attempted to spark up a conversation with gallery owners regarding one of the pieces, they were consumed by their underlying goal to sell sell sell, and couldn't readily devote time to casual conversation. Nevertheless, its exclusive nature and lack of photography-based work wasn't to Musée's taste as an image based, interactive publication.
The much anticipated “Frieze Masters” was a perfect example of this. Albeit, an impressive collection of photography, I was hard pressed to find another person with whom I could regale it with. The photography, however, was far more developed to that of the initial fair. Mark Seliger’s Kurt Cobain portrait was a stunning addition to the show tent, along with countless Annie Leibowitz images, and some classic Man Ray photograms for good measure.
Frieze could definitely do with improving the weighting of the art featured within the show. The sculpting was phenomenal, but finding a nice piece of photography was like coming across a needle in a haystack. That being said, Frieze is only going to grow on leaps and bounds. Rumors of expansion for next year will hopefully see a more consistent flow of photography running throughout the fair.
Review and photographs by Josh Fray