I won’t bother you to say how obscenely decadent and out of touch Frieze art fair is. Everything has already been said. It is what it is: a fair for top-notch galleries, their wealthy clients, a few curious ones and many aspirants.
But it’s not me who needs this reminder. This is Frieze New York itself. This year’s edition, the second at The Shed in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, strikes a fair pose with exhibits on nuclear proliferation, climate change, reproductive rights and more. Placing these projects in an exhibition like Frieze empties them of meaning and impact. Be honest, Frieze: you’re not here to help the dispossessed, not with ticket prices ranging from $65 to $215. On the contrary, you are part of the problem, not the solution.
For example, AIR Gallery featured a work by artist collective How To Perform an Abortion in response to the leak of the Supreme Court’s plan to strike down Roe vs. Wade. Artists pinned traditional herbs used for contraception and abortion on a map of the United States to mark states with “trigger laws,” which are abortion bans designed to go into effect if deer is overthrown. The work itself, titled “Trigger Planting” (2022), is strong. It’s just posted in the wrong place.
And here is the “Zero Nukes” project by artist Pedro Reyes:
But there’s some really good work this year, like Latifa Echakhch’s concrete paintings on the Pace Gallery stand, showcasing scenes from her life during the COVID-19 lockdown in Switzerland (the Moroccan-born artist currently represents Switzerland at the Beinnale in Venice.)
On the stand of the Tina Kim Gallery, a bewitching quilt of a Filipina American painter Pacita Abad (1946–2004). “I visited Papua New Guinea many years ago and noticed that there were women crying because they had been raped, but they didn’t think it was a crime , more of a tribal war,” Abad wrote of the work. “I came back and found all the other women who had been abused and beaten. I tried to use the materials I found in Goroka.
The James Cohan gallery presented abstract works by Eamon Ore-Giron, of which I am a fan:
I also liked this work by New York artist Trisha Baga, depicting a reflection of her window and living room through her computer screen.
At Frieze, I found out that Lebanese artist Walid Raad is involved with an NFT platform called Artwrld and made this digital artwork of spinning birthday cakes for autocratic rulers and other obnoxious politicians . The work is presented by Galerie Sfeir-Semler.
But I was more into this painting by Marwan Rechmaoui on the same stand:
Now on to the gadgets section, courtesy of Gagosian. In front of a group of paintings by German artist Albert Oehlen stood a vending machine offering (with parts provided by the gallery) “Kafftee” (or “Cofftea”), a blend of coffee and tea packaged in branded bottles. The hyper-caffeinated drink was developed by the artist in collaboration with Munich-based soft drink company Aqua Monaco. I made the mistake of drinking it. It tasted horrible and gave me a terrible headache.
Oehlen’s art wasn’t that great either:
Been waiting for Instagram-ready art? It’s here:
I suspect the Zwirner Gallery staff also had Instagram in mind when they designed this booth for Carol Bove’s sculptures:
You know what I mean?
Here are some additional photos from the fair: