Date(s) - 14/05/2015 - 17/05/2015
11:00 am - 7:00 pm
The much awaited Frieze Art Fair this year certainly exceeded expectations, and having attended the last few myself, I can vouch for the same. The spin off of the London success story was held at Randall’s Island (as the years before) from May 14-17. The temporary structure created a majestic exhibition space for renowned art galleries from all around the world. The high ceilings, and well-lit interiors served as a perfect platform for art for all senses. It was indeed a visual feast, and an enjoyable visitor experience not only for people in the business, but also for the lay person. I went on the first day, curious to see what it had in store for us art fanatics this year, and I was not disappointed. Divided into 6 blocks, the fair exhibited contemporary art of all forms – performance, interactive, mixed media, sculptures and so on.
What I enjoyed most was the notion of the canvas itself being challenged. There were pieces that were no longer pinned on a wall, but instead displayed in other ways. For example, the artist A Kassen used the floor to present his art: the Puddle, 2014. In another case, the wall was a part of the artwork – painted, carved, or pasted with another material; hence the artist not only presents his work but also influences the environment in which it is presented. Another interesting approach is that viewers are encouraged to interact and be a part of the artwork itself. The “Do Not Touch” policy clearly does not apply in these installations. Rather, the art serves its full purpose only by the interaction. The high-tech massage chairs are a good example. The artist Korakrit Arunanondchai was interested in creating an immersive environment where viewers could lose themselves in a multi-sensory space. Another is by artist Pia Camil’s wearable art- the ponchos where she explores the vulnerable relation between the body, the art practice, its commercial value and the public.
The most shocking and impactful work of them all was the Tribute to Flux-Labyrinth (1976/2015): An immersive, 200-foot-long, cleverly designed labyrinth (envisioned and implemented by 8 different artists), where participants had to overcome a series of obstacles and absurd obstructions. The mysterious element was that everyone had to sign a waiver stating they would assume all risks, and take full responsibility for any damage or injury that may result from the activity, which in turn made the experience rather exciting! The part most troubling was squeezing through a narrow tunnel lined by large bellied, mostly naked, sweaty, hairy men wearing wigs making strange noises and ramming their heads into me. This was disturbing, but intriguing at the same time!
All in all, the Frieze makes you question what art really is. It’s thought provoking and stretches your imagination to question and challenge your perspective. What you see is not always what you may get. Modern Art could be a stroke of red paint but that’s not all there is to it, is there? The true meaning and significance lies in the context and that’s what makes it valuable and noteworthy. There is so much power that comes with a medium like art, and the Frieze truly excels in translating that into an international platform that has no language and cultural barriers, leaving us with a delightful amalgamation of stories to relate to.
Photographs by Design Pataki