Frieze Week - Day 1

A report on the first day of the massive fair, plus an interview with Norwegian artist Erik Tidemann.

Preparing for this week is a bit like training for the marathon: except everyone’s wearing insane shoes and downing cocktails. Thousands of art fans will be racing around the city in a visual frenzy. Seeing everything is futile. There were more than 25 openings at London galleries on Tuesday alone. The city was split between East and West – a bit of edge and dose of glamour. Yayoi Kusama had a private zen-like opening for her Japanese faithful at Victoria Miro, Rita Ackermann opened at Hotel but the only busy opening in the east was for young group show The Future Can Wait at the Truman Brewery. It was surprisingly good, with giant paintings from Gordon Cheung, darkly funny penis’n’shit drawings from James Unsworth, and a stuffed dog sculpture from the multitalented Norwegian artist Erik Tidemann. I raced west in an attempt to catch the end of Conrad Shawcross’ mad-scientist style installations at Selfridges. I failed to get there in time, so headed over to the Lisson Gallery party at a disused church opposite Great Portland Street tube. (Critics are comparing how many openings they managed to cane in one night – Time Out’s Ossian Ward won at five.) Jarvis Cocker was DJing, an old fishmonger from Margate was serving oysters, and and Chris Cunningham, Farris Rotter and Matthew Stone were sampling the free booze. You need a strong liver to survive the main attraction tomorrow – Frieze itself.

A Q&A with Erik Tidemann
This Slade graduate has a thing for dead animals and strange rituals. The young artist's done everything from sculpture to performance to drawings - all with a brilliant narrative edge.

Dazed Digital: What interests you about using animals in your work?
Erik Tidemann: All creatures have their symbolism, and that gives different feel to them. Wolfs are aggressive and sheep are innocent. Of course I use the animal that is right for every tale.  I like the word 'tale' when I make projects. Like the show becomes some visual ride into a storyline as you read a book but with no words and specific explanation. I’ve used sheep based on the Gospel of St. John, and spiders for death.

DD: What are you showing at The Future Can Wait?
ET: In The Future Can Wait I give an alternative burial to my dog that died this June. He is standing on two legs with his eyes closed like some small soldier. He is holding a Paris Hilton-ish glittery fur bag containing his ashes. So he is carrying his insides. What I like about this piece is the fact I will always have my dog and can move around with him after he is dead and I don't need to go to his burial spot without being able to see and feel him. It's a sort of a portable grave.

DD: There's a lot of death and violence in your work.
ET: Death might be a big - maybe main - word for my practice. I don’t like saying that, as it might sound so daft and boy-fantasyish. But I know my violent drawings came full on after my father died. I tried to be more honest, using more of those elements again. The years of graffiti brought loads of close people in the scene around me down. Around the years 2000/2001 many young graffiti writers died of overdoses and suicides. Norway is also suffocating from winter depressions in the cold dark days from November to March and has some of the world’s highest suicide rates. Every year some dude I know about kills himself.