Frieze Art Fair 2008, London
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If the red carpet dangling from a flagpole and running through the aisles of the Frieze art fair was a statement about celebrity and cliché in the art world, it was an accurate metaphor.
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This year was more international than ever with a growing number of galleries from the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) perhaps hinting at a new world order, while the rich and famous continued to patrol the tent, phones in ears and catalogues in hand.
There were the usual attention-grabbing objects (tattooed pigs and resin sharks in diving suits); dull and dire installation pieces, such as Argentinean gallery Appetite’s abandoned coffee cups; and incredible visuals, like the Chapman brothers’ gruesome 'Fucking Hell' and Sergey Bratkov’s images of Soviet demise.
But what does it all mean? It’s a question every fairgoer asks, so I decided to pose the question to a few gallerists.
Indian artist Sudarshan Shetty’s wooden model of a VW Beetle with revolving crutches on its roof at Gallery SKE, was, said a rep, ‘all about taking regular objects and making them move in different ways.’
Two gallerists who represent US artist Sterling Ruby were stumped to describe his work as more than ‘large scale urethane sculptures emblazoned with literature’ (the words ‘Captive Ripper’ to be precise).
When it comes to price tags gallerists tend to be more articulate, as I discovered at Hauser & Wirth when enquiring about a Martin Creed piece of crumpled A4 paper entitled ‘Origami Paper’. $70,000 if you’re curious.
A soothing antidote to the crassness and intensity of the main tent is the sculpture park, where delightful pieces such as Jeppe Hein’s almost imperceptibly revolving trees, Harland Miller’s crime scene, and Dan Graham’s Sinuous Curve sit among the autumnal leaves of Regent’s Park. So peaceful, and such a no-brainer given the idyllic setting, you wonder why the organisers didn’t think of it earlier.