In mid October, four of the Axis team – Kara (Head of Audience Development), Mark (Head of Finance and Resources), Ruth (Projects Coordinator) and Sheila (Chief Executive) took a trip to London to see this year’s Frieze Art Fair. In the next four posts we share our experiences and let you know what we thought.
I felt a bit out of sync as I made my way into the fair – I missed last year’s Frieze as I was on maternity leave – so felt the need to go and catch up. While still familiar, the feel of the show was very different from when I last went in 2009. My overriding memory of two years ago was that big statement sculptures were ‘in’ as were sequins and sparkle. But now, it seems, it’s out with the sparkle and in with much smaller work, muted colours, handmade and found objects.
On Thursday I succumbed to temptation and lost my Frieze virginity. It was becoming a little embarrassing (how old? and you’ve never been? what’s wrong with you?) but I now feel like I’ve gone through a rite of passage. So how was it? I’m not sure to be honest, it was all a blur. I expected to see lots of art, I did, but don’t ask me what it was, I was moving so quickly trying to see everything in one day – but hey I’m new to this.
- Frieze Art Fair 201,1 Photo by Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/ Frieze
This is the third year in a row I have been to Frieze and I have to admit I usually steel myself to the crowds, heat and sensory overload that Frieze administers.
This year the mood was quieter even if the numbers appeared the same. Whilst there was still plenty of neon and glitz in the show, it was tempered by quieter, less flashy work requiring more than just a cursory glance. I for one, appreciated the change. Usually I travel around the show at a rate of knots and make it my aim to ‘tick off’ every stand.
A day spent at Frieze is not exactly (forgive the rhyme) a breeze. It requires a lot of organisation, concentration and stamina – and in our case plenty of pit-stops for coffee and cake. It’s also expensive: £27 this year.
- Victoria Miro, Frieze Art Fair 2011, Photo by Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/ Frieze
Nearby London Zoo is cheaper and offers just as much entertainment, though the people-spotting at Frieze is a spectator sport that’s every bit as enjoyable as the big cats and penguin pool on the other side of Regent’s Park.
I’m not the first to observe that it’s a strange way to look at art: there’s so much visual clutter and so little information about the art on show. This year many of the exhibitors took the minimalist interpretive approach to a new level, with no labels at all on many stands. I guess you’re just supposed to know what you’re looking at.