Raw Sewage on the Dance Floor
The 19th edition of Frieze (we lost a year to Covid-19) has packed up and those that are not heading to Paris are texting ‘I’m hibernating this week xox’ to friends and family from their self-imposed mental health WFH week. This year was expectedly hectic, with every man, dog, gallery, magazine, and fashion brand making their stamp with a *curated* event. As such, we thought a brief summary was in order…
The circus began almost a week before the tent opened. Nostalgia was turned up to the max with Cork St actually *shut down* for the first time in – decades? by galleries Stephen Friedman and Alison Jacques who opened new venues on the street. The former installed a sculpture garden with a David Shrigley-designed bar, while the latter served glass coupes of champagne to schmoozy collectors and cans of G&T to art students feigning interest in the art on view. Not quite Louisa Buck semi naked streaking down the road, and sadly no one was smoking inside, but it’s a start. On Thursday, former Sadie Coles gallerina and esteemed florist Ilenia Rossi also opened a space just a stone’s throw from Emalin in Shoreditch – a revival of the area on the cards too, perhaps? Later in the week, Bloomsbury saw an unexpected resurgence with 6 galleries opening late on the Friday night: a. SQUIRE, Brunette Coleman, Herald St, The Perimeter, Phillida Reid, and Union Pacific all got involved. It was a wild night… apart from the usual Peroni-fuelled chitchat, a road rage incident erupted outside Archie Squire’s new gallery causing delight amongst the Stefan Cooke and Eckhaus Latta-wearing crowd, while later, at a semi-private Quo Vadis party, pre-Frieze tensions may (or may not have) culminated in one notable-but-drunk dealer flipping the bird to revellers: a physical altercation ensued.
On Wednesday, you couldn’t move for dealers telling you how ‘the crowds are back to normal’ after last year’s glitch with the VIP system meant that buggy pushers and CSM students glided into the fair at 11am alongside collectors. Gallery assistants across the city were freaking out that Frieze’s new high security ticketing system (enforcing use of an app) might curtail the sharing of stolen VIP tickets, but it turns out that sharing VIP login details was just as easy, so no harm done. One bit of feedback though, Frieze: the wifi was terrible this year. Come on guys. QR codes were taking so long to load that security were ushering us through regardless. Not a frisk in sight!
We were amused to read in The Art Newspaper’s new ‘Secret Gallerist’ column that on the sweltering first day a collector was seen throwing their mohair (presumably Marni) sweater into the bin in the toilets to cool down and avoid the hindrance of baggage. Not so chic tbh! Paradoxically, later into the week, temperatures dropped with exhibitors asking their partners to drop off numerous extra jumpers to fend off booth shivers. The collector–gallerist wealth divide has never been so stark: that great barometer of the cozzie livs crisis *GAILS* was hit hard, with reports circling of dealers brazenly stealing £12 smoked salmon and schmear sandwiches from the fridges all throughout the week. #thrifty! Any hot tips on the aforementioned ‘Secret Gallerist’ column please do reach out to and let us know, we won’t rest until we unearth the truth! Rich with prophecies such as ‘No one cares about Barbara Sturm. Tote bags don’t have the same power these days’, reader, we agree with it ALL!
Some stand out booths: Deborah Delmar at Llano; Adham Faramawy’s Frieze solo; Jack O’Brien at Ginny on Frederick; Matthias Groebel at DREI; Michelle Rawlings at AND NOW; Adam Farah-Saad at Public; Jordan Strafer at Hot Wheels Athens; Carlos Reyes at Soft Opening; Josefa Ntjam at Nicoletti; Mattia Guarnera-MacCarthy, Hamed Maiye, and David Liebe Hart at Harlesden High Street; and Tara Walters at Kristina Kite. We are not market reporters so have nothing to report on sales, but the mood was definitely buoyant so things must be ok?!?!
Is it safe to say that no one’s keeping Damien Hirst more relevant than the middle-aged white men who incessantly write about him? Scott Reyburn’s miserable New York Times report reflected on Hirst, as well as insights like ‘paintings, lots and lots of paintings’, and ‘street crime in the capital’. Elsewhere, alongside a 1-star review by The Guardian’s Jonathan Jones was a full-bleed image of Hirst’s work to illustrate Jones’ point that the event is ‘a corporate gathering full of artists’s drab, desperate attempts to get bought by clueless rich collectors’. Jonathan, it’s an art fair, not an exhibition. Anyone in their right mind knows Frieze is essentially educational window shopping. A win win, no? Instead of angry-jealous-romanticising of the man Hirst once was (barf) why not spotlight any one of the award-winning young artists galvanising the scene (*cough cough* subscribe to the ‘sletter already Jonathan, it’s only a matter of time). On the plus side, we were happy to see Billy Fraser and Collective Ending’s spaceship-resembling mega plinth at Cornershop/Minor Attractions pictured!
Thursday night, we headed to the party on everyone’s lips (because it took so long to say all the names): Auto Italia x Rose Easton x Ginny on Frederick x Plaster Magazine, hosted in the basement of the Edition Hotel. Despite the pouring rain, a queue snaked round the street and, Berghain-esque, many it-girlies were turned away. Downstairs, the club was packed with hotties including Rene Matic, Guendalina Cerruti, Lindsey Mendick, Faye Wei Wei, and Roisin Tapponi on the D-floor. As one hard-to-impress friend of the ‘sletter said: ‘To be fair, that party actually SLAPPED. Not even the ladies toilets flooding - with raw sewage flowing towards the dancefloor - can stop carnivalesque excess in this town’.
The following day, we skipped Masters for pizza in bed before heading to the only *other* party on everyone’s lips: Frieze x KOKO. Expectations immediately soared upon sight of our favourite Frieze excess: the totally useless BMW x Frieze branded cars littering the Camden streets outside the venue. So cute! Newly renovated, Koko was packed with a rather high number of non-art-world looking party goers (which added a sense of wild excitement usually lacking at art world events) for acts including Loyle Carner and DJ Marky Mark Leckey. Several dozen free drinks in and we didn’t even make it to the cool kid event of the week: Emalin x Arcadia Missa x Nuts Magazine party at the Pickle Factory - if you were there please write in with anecdotes.
We won’t go much further into details about the weekend, exhaustion = hazy memories for these keen writers. But what we will say is one photographer does Friday night curry like no one else…
Now back to (emails from) bed xoxo
The government (🤮) hosted a Frieze party at No.10 to celebrate 13 years of cutting arts funding, and guess who crossed the picket lines?! Gilbert ( 🤮🤮) and George (🤮🤮🤮), duh!! Icon and Goldsmiths CCA director Sarah McCrory (who was also invited to the bash) had strong thoughts on the matter. Thankfully the hardcore hacks at TAN caught every word: