Double Deutsche


Left: Urs Fischer's work at Eva Presenhuber's booth. (Photo: William Wintercross) Right: Jay Jopling and Ydessa Hendeles.

The other day, on my glamorous daily bus commute down Hackney Road, I noticed a new sign on the Mecca Bingo complex: Play Bingo NOW! I have never thought of bingo as an imperative, but upon entering the seething opening of Frieze Art Fair number three, it occurs to me that Mecca’s management might have clocked a new cultural trend: “I’ll be at Anton Kern, D-SIX!” a fur-lined New York collector screams over her shoulder as she beats a path to the John Bocks. “Have you heard about the Jenny Saville?! It’s at Gagosian . . . I think it’s D-9!” cries another art tourist as she blithely tramples my right toe. Her Manolos are no match for Gwyneth Paltrow’s stealth stilettos, however, which reportedly spirited the actress down to Matthew Marks (C-8!) for a closer look at the David Armstrongs.

The fair’s Monopoly board map seems bigger this year, but there is no shortage of international collectors to fill it. Last year’s Frieze Art Fair sold £26 million worth of loot and more than doubled the previous, inaugural year’s attendance, and judging from the frenzied pace of the opening, it looks like all the participants, from A-1 (London’s Paragon Press) to G-18 (Istanbul’s Galerist), are set to keep their accountants busy in the coming weeks.

But Frieze prides itself on being an “artist’s fair,” so, champagne safely in hand, I decide to ignore the spreadsheets and jump into the slipstream of jovial London-based artists Enrico David and Josephine Pryde. David’s work is the star of London gallery Cabinet’s booth, one of the most engaging in the fair (it also features Bonnie Camplin, Gillian Carnegie, Will Benedict and Lucy Dodd, and a hell’s-a-poppin’ 1986 painting by David Wojnarowicz). Enrico’s sprawling wall collage Bubble Protest, 2005, merges Oskar Schlemmer and Hieronymous Bosch in a mechanical orgy of figures gorging themsleves, farting, and expelling their “dissent” into empty speech balloons.

Left: Claudia Schiffer. Middle: Paola Pivi's 100 Chinese, 1998, at the Wrong Gallery booth. Right: Zaha Hadid. (Left and middle photos: William Wintercross)

As we start off down the aisle, Mark Leckey, another Cabinet artist, emerges decked out in yachting wear for his cultural cruising: Navy Acquascutum blazer with gold buttons, grey trousers, blue shirt, extraordinary beige suede shoes, and a cravat designed as an edition by Enrico for über-savvy Galerie Daniel Buchholz from Cologne. Long live the British dandy!

As aerodynamically coiffed fashion matriarch Suzy Menkes sails by, Enrico enthuses about a Rosemarie Trockel work at the Gladstone booth, sewing up my realization that the art world has suddenly become very fond of needles. At Franco Noero, Caligulite Franceso Vezzoli collapses Josef and Anni Albers in his clever needlepoint Homage to the Square—the Remake, 2002–2005. Massimo De Carlo pairs a beautiful Aligiero e Boetti embroidery with a recent Christian Holstad floor sculpture, and Galeria Luisa Strina has a poignant bit of stitch-witchery by the fascinating Brazilian artist Leonilson. But the current apex of this particular art form—at the Frieze Fair, at least—comes from High Desert Test Sites’ prolific knitting enthusiast Lisa Anne Auerbach. Imported to London from California as part of a caravan that includes Andrea Zittel and the Interlopers Hiking Club, whose elaborately costumed activities were commissioned by Polly Staple for Frieze Projects, Auerbach is layered in her own knitted creations, such as a skirt whose pattern was determined by the Department of Homeland Security’s alert codes.

As usual, Los Angeles’s acclaimed youngsters are well represented at the fair, and having heard some hype rippling across the Atlantic already, I’m particularly struck by Sterling Ruby’s work at Marc Foxx. Gritty photo-collages that cannibalize images of his sculptural and installation work and two eerie ceramic peace symbols that put a pleasantly psychedelic spin on Lucio Fontana’s sublime ceramic sculptures snap me right out of my champagne stupor. Foxx is joined at the fair by several other Los Angeles galleries, including Blum & Poe, China Art Objects, ACME, Patrick Painter, and Peres Projects (who also recently launched an outpost in Berlin), but Regen Projects is conspicuously absent again this year, as are other strong California contenders like Richard Telles and David Kordansky. Whether they were too hip, too poor, or simply off the Frieze radar, one hopes they might find their way into the tent next year.

Left: Angela Choon and David Zwirner. Middle: Grayson Perry (Photo: William Wintercross) Right: Jeffrey Deitch and Dakis Joannou.

Judging by the goods shipped over from the opposite coast, the Counter-Reformation to New York’s Gothic High Renaissance might (finally) be at hand. A turn to a new, more cheerfully baroque dawn materializes in David Altmejd’s glittering work at Stuart Shave’s Modern Art and in Amy Gartrell’s flowery Victoriana at Daniel Reich. The baroque is also in high gear in Pablo Bronstein’s elegant architectural drawings at white-hot Herald Street, one of the many London galleries pushing up the UK representation at the fair this year.

Despite showing a stunning black folding screen at Berlin’s Galerie Neu, Tom Burr also seems to have left the darkness behind, in two knock-out white sculptures, both invoking Truman Capote, at Stuart Shave and Franco Noero. The whiteout continues at Eva Presenhuber, whose booth is decidedly the fair’s showstopper. Ugo Rondinone’s sculpture Thank You Silence, 2005, dispenses paper snow that accumulates quietly on the floor while passersby gape through massive holes in the walls left by Urs Fischer’s Matta-Clark style Middle Class Heroes, 2004.

Framed by Fischer’s cuts, glamorous collector Candida Gertler glides into view. Gertler is indeed a hero, having initiated the Outset Contemporary Art Fund, which whipped up the £150,000 Frieze Art Fair Special Acquisitions Fund for donations to Tate’s collection. This year’s purchases, selected by LA MOCA’s Paul Schimmel and the Musèe d'art Moderne de la Ville de Paris' Suzanne Pagé, include a performance work by David Lamelas and Deimantas Narkevicius’s engaging film The Role of a Lifetime, 2003, both from the amiable Belgian dealer Jan Mot. Daria Martin’s Close Up Gallery, 2004, a hit at this year’s ICA Beck’s Futures exhibition, was plucked from the East End’s astute Hotel gallery, and work by Stanley Brouwn, Anri Sala, Matthew Monahan, Zoe Leonard, and Alexandre da Cunha rounds out the list.

Left: Art Institute of Chicago curator James Rondeau. Middle: Sadie Coles HQ gallery director Pauline Daly and Gavin Brown. Right: Artist Terence Koh with Peres Projects Berlin gallery director Scott Weaver.

While a crowd gathers inside the Hotel booth to view the Daria Martin film, the aisle outside is at a standstill as the heaving hordes pause to watch a performance beginning down the aisle. Evidently, Santiago Sierra and Artur Zmijewski now have company in the emerging genre of Exploitation Art. The Wrong Gallery is presenting Paola Pivi’s 100 Chinese, 1998, in which a phalanx of fifty Chinese people of mixed age and gender, all sporting identical grey shirts and blue trousers, is wedged into a small white cube next to the fair’s tony restaurant and left to gaze out at their audience. Art commerce has vociferously embraced the notion that “the twenty-first century belongs to China,” but when faced directly with the hard stare of destiny, some collectors were shifting their feet uneasily.

While legendary duplicator Sturtevant sent out a card via Anthony Reynolds Gallery stating that she would be doing nothing at the fair between the hours of 19:00 and 21:00 on October 21 “in honor of appearance and temporality,” Elmgreen & Dragset are presenting a double act of a different sort. They’ve staged a facsimile of their Berlin dealer Martin Klosterfelde’s booth directly next to the original, complete with a Klosterfelde doppelganger, identical Matthew Antezzo paintings of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, plus duplicate, editioned works by Kiersten Pieroth, Dan Peterman, and Christian Jankowski. Allegedly, the impersonator playing Klosterfelde also played the German journalist in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Before all of the galleries start multiplying, I escape the fair with ever-ebullient Danish artist Kirstine Roepstorff, who was commissioned by fair sponsor Deutsche Bank to produce a work for their sleek VIP lounge. We brave the wilds of Notting Hill for a dinner at faux-rustic gastropub The Cow in honor of Elmgreen & Dragset, who have recently returned to the Old World after inaugurating their stint as Prada proprietors in Marfa, Texas. After feasting in the pleasant company of the ICA’s Jens Hoffmann, The Power Plant’s Reid Shier, Peres Projects’ Scott Weaver, and The Serpentine’s Rochelle Steiner, Kirstine and I notice at least three of the other guests have begun to take on the physical characteristics of Martin Klosterfelde, so we make haste for the White Cube party at sketch, hoping that it won’t be filled to the rafters with Tracey Emin replicants.

Amidst the hair pulling, elbow jabbing throngs at the entrance and rumors that even Sam Taylor-Wood has been denied entry, we slide surprisingly quickly into the hallowed, sticky-floored confines of the Mayfair club. All eyes are on flannel-shirted Julian Schnabel and his strapping, identically dressed son, but I make a bee-line for more champagne in the all-white disco suite, where I am quickly surrounded by gyrating members of German art collective hobbypopMUSEUM, some of whom nearly tumble onto the sofa occupied by Paula Cooper’s director Steve Henry and the Judd Foundation’s Madeline Hoffmann. I assemble a small army to advance on the stair-Nazis blocking our entrance to the amber glow of the top floor. We finally ascend into the gilded chaos upstairs, sliding by Andreas Gursky and Nina Pohl on the stairs—but urges of responsibility quickly begin to nudge my sybaritic tendencies into submission and I return home to rest before another busy day under the Big Top.

Left: Carol Greene with mannequin by Michael Krebber. Middle: Maureen Paley with a sculpture by Rebecca Warren. Right: Daniel Reich.

Left: Alex Tuttle of John Connelly Presents. Middle: Projectile gallery director Jeffrey Uslip. Right: Mari Spirito of 303 Gallery and Louise Wilson.

Left: Jack Hanley. Middle: Hervé Mikaeloff in front of Urs Fischer's work at Eva Presenhuber's booth. Right: Design Museum director Alice Rowthsorn and artist Cornelia Parker.

Stuart Comer