How To Survive Frieze Art Fair
Frieze London 2013. Photograph by Ms Linda Nylind, courtesy of Frieze
The insider tips and tricks to make a visit to the iconic art fair a success.
It’s not hard to see why past Frieze Fairs across the globe have attracted the likes of Mr Leonardo DiCaprio, Ms Beyoncé Knowles and Mr David Bowie. As the UK’s biggest art fair, hosting more than 160 galleries packed with the world’s most radical contemporary art, Frieze London is, without a doubt, essential for getting to grips with the industry’s new moves. But with its opportunities for networking, collecting, and general posturing; its photo-ops and cavernous gallery booths filled with art’s most influential people, it can also represent an optimal chance to establish yourself in the echelons of the art world. Keen for a piece of this culturally gilded fanfare? Here’s your guide to navigating art’s most lavish event.
You’re going to be surrounded by some of the most iconic and visually arresting art in the world, but don’t get too excited, you need to keep your curiosity in check. The skill is to practice a studied air of nonchalance. Ms Julie Verhoeven masquerading as a toilet attendant? No big deal. Ms Sibylle Berg and Mr Claus Richter’s Wonderland Ave installation? Meet its bold hues with an impossible-to-impress sigh. This attitude extends to social media. Yes, Mr Jeff Koons’ pink Balloon Dog would look great on your Instagram feed, but this is not Disneyland, and you are an adult: rein it in.
Prepare to swipe right
The most eligible and desirable people in world are going to be at Frieze. Writers, academics, models, entrepreneurs, actors, hangers-on: whatever your type – here’s your chance to mine the field and get a hot date. Art-world bods are notoriously illusive (read: rude). So don’t expect lingering eye contact over a £2million Picasso to lead to anything other than a blank stare when you see them an hour later. Instead, head to the trendiest booths, such as White Cube, or 34 Mayfair’s on-site restaurant, then fire up those apps and get to swiping.
Relive the 1990s
This year, Frieze London is celebrating the era’s verve in a brand-new section The Nineties, curated by critic and collector Mr Nicolas Trembley. In this area, galleries will reimagine seminal 1990s-era shows and key collaborations, paying homage to the Britpop of contemporary art, 1997’s Sensation exhibition, a pivotal show in which Mr Damien Hirst first unveiled his now-famous animals preserved in formaldehyde, and shows by photographer Mr Richard Billingham and fine art photographer Mr Wolfgang Tillmans. Match the decade’s sartorial nonchalance with Adidas Originals sneakers and plenty of plaid, and sway your way towards Mexican artist Mr Martin Soto Climent’s large-scale found-object Frieze commission Frenetic Gossamer (2016), which is just around the corner.
Expand your circle
Frieze is the perfect time to make connections with art’s blue blood. Unfortunately, you’re going to stumble across a fair amount of has-beens and nobodies as you navigate the fair, so best set the bar high and head straight to Frieze Talks for a series of panel discussions. Hosted by the ICA’s executive director Mr Gregor Muir and Frieze’s Ms Christy Lange, Crossing Over is your chance to network with political art types as they discuss the importance of fluid migration borders. Next, exchange views on Cuba at artist Ms Tania Bruguera’s first talk following her Cuban prison incarceration. Round it off with some light fraternising at Introducing: Lee “Scratch” Perry, a keynote presentation by the transcendentally eccentric Jamaican dub musician.
Frieze Focus is the chance to discover the next Ms Cindy Sherman via a micro fair of 37 up-and-coming international galleries founded after 2004. Assembled by curators Messrs Jacob Proctor and Fabian Schöneich, featured spaces include Peckham’s Arcadia Misa, Southard Reid and Chi-Wen Gallery – ideal pit-stops if you’re in the mood for an impulse purchase (and for less than the millions that works at the main fair will command). Galleries have been chosen for their cavalier ethos, and there are plenty of conversation starters to head home with.