Just down the road from the Frieze Art Fair, Mrs Rebecca Gander-Limoncello has organised the Sunday Art Fair in a cavernous underground boiler room. A sort of art fair without walls, it feels like the old London art world used to feel, with fashionable kids and arrangements of artlike objects in an as-you-found-it warehousey place, in a venue you have to discover, rather than have shoved up you.
You access the fair through a metal gate on Marleybone Road, descend a metal staircase, follow a service road down and around, then go through a small door, into what you you'd expect to be a bunker, possibly housing a James Bond baddy.
Inside is the closest thing the art world has to a James Bond baddy, Ryan Gander (nobody understands what he does and he's taking over the world).
"Ah, Mr Hudson, I have been expecting you."
Ryan is running an eponymous bar serving tea, coffee, wines and beer at astonishingly reasonable prices and cocktails at astonishingly unreasonable prices. He has asked a number of artists to design and make their own cocktails, which are £50 each. Liam will be serving spilt vodka on a tray, Bob and Roberta Smith a glass of freshly poured concrete, but the mixologist on duty when I arrive is Fiona Banner. She has devised a drink in which the consumer has to down as many glasses of champagne as they can as she counts you down from 10. It's rather undignified, but actually not bad value considering champers is £10 a glass over at the Big Tent.
So, seeing as the art world is on the brink of financial collapse I buy one.*
Three glasses is all I can manage and feel quite glad about this as I don't want to be sick over Ryan. The prize though is a pair of boxing gloves and signed certificate. And I got a receipt for Julie in accounts. Look out for these items in a Christies sale near you soon.
Proof of the indignity is laid bare as I appear the next day in the Art Newspaper.
*NB If as a taxpayer you are questioning the ethics of this, be reassured that this was part of a complex marketing excercise/Ganderwerk to get punters to part with their cash for real. A bit like those gangs of scallies from Kent do, who sell perfume at Oxford Street. And it worked because someone did actually buy one, for real.
Now i understand art.
It doesn't seem to matter what kind of ticket you have there always seems to be some Eva Logronia, fur,denim and heels Italians sailing past you to wafting some other super pass. The ostentatious wealth of the Frieze crowd was even more evident than usual, with the VIP limo service and discounted hotels that start with the budget Connuaght at £300 a night - actually a bit of a bargain I would say bearing in mind the kind of humiliating experience you can put yourself through in a run of mill London shitpit at around half the price. The Connaught does at least make you feel good - I stayed budget before anyone gets shirty.
In general and considering the 5% of the fair that I saw I think it was a slightly livelier show than usual, fewer drawing room sketches, more big statements. I did enjoy a moment with vaulting young buck Simon Fukiwara, where I was bogusly and exaggeratedly commiserating with him on the immmmmmense pressure he must have been under in completing his Cartier commission and asked him where it was, he kindly pointed out that I was standing on it.
From our perspective Frieze offers a once a year shot in the arm (inoculation) update on how all that selling stuff is getting on and a chance to see a lot of people we saw last year and talked to about 'doing something'. It was great to see Vitamin's Hou Fang and Zhang Wei - (we are actually doing something with Vitamin next week) and Bruce Haines, attempting to complete on his commercial suicide, first giving Alan Kane a solo last year and now Des Hughes - added to which he appeared to be babysitting his 2 year old at the opening, call me old fashioned but…. still Bruce's chaotic charm will have no doubt seen him through the 15k barrier needed to break even. Toby Webster breathless as ever, the Association of Ginger Regional Curators and so on.
What always amazes me is how many people there are at Frieze that I don't know - I mean 'who are these people, where do they come from, why are they here, how much did it cost them to get here and where can I buy a 12 year old sex slave, Tahiti - great' (in the words of Gauguin). (Actually… Gauguin celebrated - Gary Glitter reviled, how so? So many similarities)
Talking of shows at the Tate that sunflower seed thing is disturbing and some. I trudged across the seeds in mounting horror. I was relieved to learn that the seeds were mould made, the thought of 100 million hand made seeds was hurting me somewhere inside. I think for anyone that's ever made something repetitively it is a shocking sight, however most of the audience seemed to misunderstand it as a beach - it's a bit like skate boarders who skate anything in the public realm, the Tate audience seem to think everything is a beach opportunity.
However it is a phenomenal artwork, with all its complex meanings, contradictions and downright wrongness. I also like that it has no visual charm at all - long live the pottery revival - (oh dam I shouldn't have said that now it'll be over).
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