Frieze Week Day 2

A systematic approach is needed to tunnel through every single space and booth that house giant breasts, talking computers and an exported Icelandic bar.

Images by Theo Michael
Frieze. It’s impossible to describe how chaotic it is. It needs to be tamed like a dog. People stumble in a haze glimpsing only part of the beast. My approach is more regimented – walk up the aisles back and forth with severe organisation. I head out with curator and critic Paul Pieroni. We were initially with writer Freire Barnes but lost her on entry. My batteries are confiscated from my camera – Frieze is getting dictatorial about its image obviously. Paul and I start at 2pm and by around 7pm have finally managed to see every single gallery in the giant tent.

It is impossible to say one gallery was a highlight here – there’s so many and in the end they all blur together. The thoroughness when we begin at A1 fades by the time we hit H15. A few spaces stood out - the crazy installation by Argentian gallery Appetite which included old rubbish, neon paintings and a small man in a green cardboard outfit making chaos with tape. The major American galleries – Gagosian etc – were always rammed as was Whitecube. When I went to check out Jay Jopling’s spot it was so busy I found myself literally squeezed between Nick Rhodes and John Taylor from Duran Duran (without a doubt my 1980s pop fantasy).

The best thing this year – and argulably any Frieze – is Sirkus, the Icelandic spot which consisted of one of Reyjavik’s most famous dive bars ripped out and shipped over for the fair complete with their own Djs and scary Icelandic salty liquorice shots. Keith Tyson and Steve Lazarides were there most of the day – as well as Jose Parla his partner in crime, photographer Pablo Power. It was a hedonists black hole.

These spaces aside, artworks and artists do stand out. This year’s repetitive theme was large breasts – Matthew Brannon’s graphic large tits piece, Seth Price’s breast on a canvas encased in black vinyl, Gillian Wearing’s airbrushed painting of succulent glamour models, and a tons of plastic breasts in David LaChapelle’s 3D cut out panorama (as well as Paris Hilton’s shaved snatch – something I didn’t really need to see). Apart from this rather dubious theme, the other thing that popped up everywhere was Franz West’s bright and brilliant woven chairs - the seating of choice of many galleries.

Amongst the acres of art there were some great pieces. Mike Kelley’s 50s style nuclear lenticular paintings that flashed like a school kids ruler at Jablonka. William Pope L definitely emerged as one of the most interesting varied names – with video work, art on face flannels and amazing drawings amongst the selection at Catherin Bastide’s booth. The other amazing highlight was Alexei Shulgin’s 1998 computer piece 386DX – a singing computer that bleeped out the words for Auld Lang Syne alongside a with a sign saying Help Me and a cup for change.

As the art starts to make my head spin, and I momentarily lose Paul to Paperback magazine’s Kris Latocha and artist Sam Griffin, I go back to Sirkus and notice Gabriela Fridriksdottir is serving behind the bar. We say hello, she immediately gives me 3 massive shots in the space of 3 seconds and the night disintegrates to chaos. After an interlude at The Albany with Whitecube’s small army of technical staff I end up at the Groucho again with the boys from Le Gun, artist Charlie Wooley and gallery owner David Risley. The word ouch describes how we feel when we go home at 4am for the third day running.
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