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
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
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.
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).