Frieze ii (not strictly Frieze but also in London)
After a day at Frieze I was almost pleased that Francois was not able to leave me his VIP pass – that way I could not feel obliged to go back, though another stroll around Masters might have been fun. Friday’s treat was seeing the amazing collections of artists’ jewellery on several stands at the PAD Fair in Berkley Square. A few years ago I saw jewellery by Anish Kapoor and Zaha Hadid at an auction preview and remember thinking that it was an interesting idea then. In terms of an edition or multiple it is quite appealing. Maybe that is because materials and objects are often my starting points, and perhaps jewellery offers the same possibilities …
It is funny, sometimes, where and how one arrives at things. I went to London expecting to be excited and inspired by one fair when actually it was things at two others that made more of an impact on me. An even more brilliant discovery came from a very familiar place – Kim’s studio where I stay (and where I spent two weeks before moving away last year). On Friday evening I fancied looking through a good book while lying in bed and my gaze fell upon Phiadon’s Roni Horn publication. As I was flipping through it I saw a picture of her Goldfield piece – which caught my attention not only because it is beautiful but it also immediately reminded me of my field project. Reading about it I discovered that the piece lead to a deep friendship between Horn and a favourite artist of mine Felix Gonzalez-Torres. The friendship led both artists to dedicate works to each other and I can only imagine how interesting their conversations and correspondence must have been. Seeing that wonderful image of a sheet gold leaf for the first time it felt as though that was the reason that I was in London. I do not know so much about Roni Horn however I now want to start seeing and reading more.
Saturday was spent catching up with various good friends some of whom I have not seen for a few years. It was really interesting to discuss Frieze with them. Perhaps it is a sign that we are all getting older but there was a general feeling that it was not as interesting to us as it was when it first started. Or perhaps it is a sign of the times that it felt more obviously commercial than it has done in the past. I can be very naïve sometimes and it was not until someone pointed out the practical realities of it being a “fair” rather than an “expo” that a few more dots were joined up for me! I had been wondering why some good galleries had rather odd looking stands, it was explained to me that this is because the VIP and Collectors preview days had actually been very successful and many pieces had been sold. Still I wondered why it was so important to have things packed up and shipped out immediately, my friend continued to explain that I was thinking about things the wrong way around. It is not that the buyer wanted the piece immediately, it is that the gallery can not sell the same piece twice so it is in their interest to take away what is sold and show something which is for sale. The amount of storage required for this also explains why Frieze seems to be the opposite to the Tardis – ariel photographs show a tent which looks far larger than it feels when you are in it.
My final (essential) task of the trip was to buy silver glitter! I am pleased to say I did and it is now sitting here in the studio waiting for me to have time to get on with what might be a very twinkly job – maybe it is good to wait until nearer Christmas when I will not be the only person walking around town sparkling! I highly recommend Flint’s Theatrical and Marine Chandlers (such a wonderful name), not only did they have exactly what I wanted but they offered to pack it in four individual bags so that I could pack it more easily. I am a little disappointed that I was not stopped at customs … I wanted to know what it looked like on their x-ray machine
Once again I was fortunate to be a VIP’s “plus one” for my Frieze experience. Having not always had this privilege I really do appreciate the difference. After a plentiful breakfast at Tate Britain with time to see the Turner Prize show (I liked Elizabeth Price‘s piece) and hear about the Tate’s Outset acquisitions we set off on the South London Gallery jamboree. Whilst looking at Rashid Johnson‘s show I was introduced to a wonderful American couple of collectors who really do seem to travel the world in pursuit of exciting new contemporary art. Their passion was amazing, and I was very pleased to discover that some of my fears about “collectors” were dispelled by this charming pair. The bus route back passed truly improverished parts of south London and I hope that some of the VIPs looked up from their iphones and saw another side of the city.
The two years since my last visit to Frieze collapsed as soon as I entered that massive tent – the sights and sounds were immediately familiar. Having lived in Stockholm for a year the buzziness (and busyness and business) of Frieze was even more pronounced. I quickly found two things that interested me; one a Tom Burr piece in the backroom of the Rech Gallery, and Ian Kiaer’s piece* at Alison Jacques. It is only now that it occurs to me that maybe the people on both stands had time to talk because it was during the VIP’s daily ‘preview’ hour and the fair was not yet so busy. It makes such a difference to hear about the artist and their work from people who know them. Perhaps I am too aware of being an artist rather than a collector when I visit fairs – from my own limited time in retail and sales I know the frustration of being engaged with an interesting but non-buying person and seeing potential buyers move on.
I intended to spend the whole day there however three hours was enough. It could have been the brilliant white light, the artificial environment in that huge tent, the constant hum of the generators, my age or just the sheer volume of artwork but I was more than ready to head across the park to see Frieze Masters.
Frieze Masters was a completely different experience, one that I found very enjoyable. I immediately warmed to the calm grey tones of the carpet and walls, the wide aisles and the modest number of visitors. The style of the booths and the type of work was (understandably) completely different. The Galerie Daniel Blau exhibition of Warhol drawings was amazing and it was great to be able to see such fine work so close up. I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed looking at the ancient Chinese and African art. Again it was amazing to be so close to such beautiful things, amazing also that they were not in glass cases! The pair of Chinese jade discs from 3000 -2000 BC at Ben Janssens‘ fascinated me, these must be the oldest things that I have been close to (excluding the earth itself and other such ‘ancient’ things). It was while standing awestruck in front of these that I started to think about the possibility of using similar stands for presenting some of the objects from my ‘collections’.
A reception at the Whitechapel Gallery was my last VIP event that day. As soon as we arrived I met an old college friend who now has a very serious position in the art world (so does her partner), we do not really keep in touch but always get along very well when we meet up.
The day was (visually) exhausting and it was a good decision to stop while I was enjoying myself rather than continue to another couple of events later in the evening.
The art world is a weird and wonderful place – I feels like home …
*Yes, he is using an emergency blanket too! I loved the way it rippled and sparkled.
Ljusfältet* got the go-ahead this week, which is both great and scary! The context is a little odd though – it is too complex to explain however I am a little nervous about how political the whole situation seems to be. I have decided to focus on making the best piece that I and as far as possible to leave the other discussions to those better able to deal with them.
A few trials in dark parks with flash lights (!) revealed that the piece is going to require considerably more lighting than I had imagined. The ‘space blankets’ are incredibly light reflective when light hits them directly however this will be difficult to achieve as they will be lying horizontally across the field. When I come back from London I need to make time to meet with the people who are providing the lighting for the evening. With it being a one-off outdoor event there is not the opportunity to test out different lighting options once the blankets are in place.
*Ljusfältet (Ljus=light and fält= field) actually translates to Bright Field rather than Light Field but I like the simplicity and the sound of the single word. This has also reminded me that nuances are important and that something that might sound good to the English ear might not be exactly what I mean!
Next week I hope to sign a contract that will change my status from being someone who rents a studio ‘second-hand’ to someone who shares a studio. This is a big step forward as it means that I become a full member of the artists’ association that is ‘wip:sthlm’. It also means that my place here is much more secure. I will be sharing with the artist who I currently sublet from. We have not spoken about exactly how we will divide up the space but I have started looking at renting storage space elsewhere! If for some reason sharing does not work out I am in a better position on the waiting list as an ‘existing member’.
As I have not yet heard anything back from my potential glitter contact here I am planning to take my largest suitcase to London so that I can buy a few kilos of it there. It makes really good economic sense to use my full baggage allowance – a considerable 23kg with British Airways! Now I do not have to feel guilty for flying with them rather than Ryanair!
The lack of glitter is frustrating but not as frustrating as the lack of time that I am currently experiencing. Between school and administrative side of maintaining my practice (writing applications etc) I have virtually no creative time at all. Once I have the glitter and right adhesive the actual hours required should be achievable. The thought of having some new work finished by the end of the year is a great incentive! Knowing that I have the option to study part-time next year is very exciting and is enough to make the current situation bearable.
I am so looking forward to the time when I can put art back in the centre of my life and hang the other stuff around it (and no the other way around) … 2014 looks good!