As Frieze takes over Regent's Park, bringing with it throngs of curious tourists, bustling press personnel and the art world glitterati, thousands of local London joggers have been re-routed. At least, this is the thinking behind Emalin gallery's 'art work-out' sessions as part of Frieze Live – 'a way for locals to reclaim the space', explains the gallery's co-director Angelina Volk.
Bringing this heart rate-raising concept to life is Lithuanian artist Augustas Serapinas. 'Jõusaal (Gym)' – a series of four live performances taking place during Frieze Art Fair – restages a work that Serapinas initially conceived in residence at the Estonian Academy of Arts in Tallinn. He stumbled upon piles of relinquished, half-finished sculptures discarded by long-gone fine art students, transforming them into dumbbells, weights and other such examples of gym equipment with terrifying names such as Agonist and Ripper.
Lycra-clad Londoners, who prowl the park regularly, have been employed as unlikely performance artists to brave Jõusaal, using it as they would an ordinary gym, in place of their daily jogging routine, merging art with novel, tongue-in-cheek function.
These live performances complement an exhibition from Serapinas, named 'Housewarming', at Emalin's new space on Bethnal Green Road in Shoreditch – the pop-up gallery's first permanent space. Like the performances, visitors are invited to become part of the installation. 'Both installations are predicated on engaging people who might otherwise be less invested in the arts with the artwork,' Volk explains. 'At "Housewarming", which features a fully functional sauna, visitors are invited to use the space as they would a regular sauna – with towels, swimsuits, and a shower provided.'
Whether offering avant-garde exercise, or a post-work-out spa session, Emalin is taking immersive to a whole new level, and seems intent on making its audience sweat.