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Frieze Art Fair

by Rachel Corbett
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As the tents go up in London’s Regent’s Park, thousands of art enthusiasts -- and the millionaire collectors who actually come to buy -- are streaming into the city for the Frieze Art Fair, Oct. 13-16, 2011, and for the hundreds of fringe exhibitions, fairs and parties that go along with it.

The feeding frenzy has slowed, of course, since the economic downturn in 2008, but while the fair stopped releasing sales figures after the fair’s third year,  founders Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover recently said that total gallery revenues at Frieze have gone up each year since. Last year it was estimated that the fair housed about £235 million worth of art. What is in store for the latest edition? Despite the economic uncertainty, the art market seems ready for action. Here are a few of the highlights.

The big top itself draws more than 60,000 visitors to view works by 1,000 artists at more than 170 galleries from 33 different countries. Many of the global powerhouse dealers are on hand -- Gagosian, Hauser & Wirth, White Cube -- plus, this year, a few notable newcomers, including Pace Gallery and Andrea Rosen from New York and Yvon Lambert from Paris.

Frieze Projects
The eight site-specific “Frieze Projects” are often among the fair’s most entertaining. Last year, Annika Ström sent a group of actors in matching businesswear wandering through the fair pretending to be embarrassed about something for a performance piece called Ten Embarrassed Men. Curator Sarah McCrory returns once again after coming on board in 2010 to replace Neville Wakefield. This year’s commissions include a living “scoreboard” of rotating quotes and phrases operated by assistants to Dutch duo Bik Van der Pol, an aquarium that’s the stage for a “performance” by an ecosystem of sea creatures by Pierre Huyghe and a luxury yacht that can be purchased as an original Christian Jankowski “artwork.” Other participants in the program are Oliver Laric, the London multimedia collective LuckyPDF, Peles Empire, Laure Prouvost and Cara Tolmie.

Frieze Film
McCrory also took on curating the five new commissions in the fair’s film program, Oct. 10-14, 2011, which airs in the Frieze auditorium and on Channel 4. This year’s artists are Ed Atkins, Lutz Bacher, Anthea Hamilton, Judith Hopf and Katarina Zdjelar. Also on view this year, for the first time, is the collection of short films commissioned by the Frieze Foundation since 2005.

Frieze Frame
Established in 2009 in response to the recession, this fair-within-a-fair is devoted exclusively to solo exhibitions from galleries that are less than six years old. This year, Frame is exhibiting work from 26 artists -- the highest number yet -- including Paul Johnson, Paloma Polo, Jung Lee, Judith Bernstein and Raphaël Zarka.

Frieze Sculpture Park
This outdoor retreat from the crowds in the park’s English Gardens is always free and open to the public. Curated once again by David Thorp, outdoor sculptures from Tom Friedman, Kiki Smith, Alicia Framis, and Johan Creten are on view, as well as new works by Thomas Houseago and Claudia Fontes. Gavin Turk is installing a household door onto the lawn and Will Ryman is bringing one of his oversized rose sculptures that stood on Park Avenue in New York this spring.

Frieze week, of course, always seeps far beyond the borders of Regent’s Park. Museums around the city open some of their biggest shows and there’s always the slew of satellite fairs citywide.

Pavilion of Art and Design (PAD)
Now pared down to 57 exhibitors (compared to 93 last year), the Pavilion of Art and Design spans the sprawling fields of modern art, design, decorative arts, photography and tribal art ranging from 1860 to the present. Among those setting up shop in Berkeley Square are New York galleries Mitchell-Inness & Nash and Stellan Holm; the London-based galleries Eykyn Maclean, The Mayor Gallery and Lefevre Fine Art; and Chahan Gallery, Galerie Patrice Trigano and Jousse Enterprise from Paris, among others.

A winning design or decorative art work will be selected for the PAD Prize by a panel of judges that includes Zaha Hadid, David Collins, Allegra Hicks and Nigel Coates. Moët Hennessy donates the winning work to the Victoria and Albert Museum’s permanent collection.

“Step across This Line
A 15-minute walk from Regent’s Park, Asia House is timing an exhibition of contemporary south Asian artists to coincide with Frieze. Taking its name from a Salman Rushdie essay collection, “Step Across this Line” is curated by New Delhi-based Deeksha Nath and brings together works originating in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan that deal with geographic boundaries and postcolonial and national identities, Oct. 10-22, 2011.

“The House of the Nobleman: The Return”
For the second year in a row, the 18th-century mansion overlooking Regent’s Park at 2 Cornwall Terrace is being converted into a massive blue-chip exhibition based loosely on the subject of “the sacred.” Curated by Victoria Golembiovskaya, “The House of the Nobleman: The Return,” Oct. 14-23, 2011, is a selling exhibition of nearly 100 cross-generational artists. It’s one of the largest private sales to coincide with Frieze and brings together major names, including Claude Monet, Takashi Murakami, Peter Doig, Sigmar Polke, Francesco Clemente, Olafur Eliasson, Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí, Damien Hirst and Yves Klein.

Multiplied Art Fair
The only contemporary-art editions fair in the U.K., the Multiplied Art Fair, Oct. 14-17, 2011, is returning for its second year at Christie’s in South Kensington with galleries from Spain, Germany, the U.S. and the U.K. displaying photography, artists’ books, prints and sculpture. Among the exhibitors are Phaidon Press, TAG Fine Arts, Whitechapel Gallery, Black Rat Projects and Marlborough Graphics. The growing fair has added an expanded educational program and a Print Gocco screenprinting workshop to this year’s agenda.

Two other fairs are marking their second anniversaries -- the return of the gallery-led, emerging-art fair SUNDAY, Oct. 13-16, 2011, held at the underground Ambika P3 space on Marylebone Road, and street-art fair Moniker, Oct. 13-16, 2011, at Village Underground.

New York dealer Ed Winkleman said that he founded the Moving Image Contemporary Video Art Fair in New York after an influential curator confessed to him that he never watched the videos at fairs. Moving Image only launched earlier this year, but it seems to have offered London exhibitors an irresistibly affordable alternative to Frieze, signing up just under 30 galleries and nonprofits for as low as $2,500 a pop. Moving-image sculpture and installation and single-channel videos from Eve Sussman and the Rufus Corporation, Hannah Wilke, Cameron Platter, Suzanne Treister and Vincent Meessen, among others, are set up around the small rooms and viewing areas at the Bargehouse, at Oxo Tower Wharf, Oct. 13-16, 2011.

Then there’s the debut of the scrappy Sluice Art Fair, Oct. 15-16, 2011, organized by Karl England and Ben Street, as a DIY alternative to Frieze for up-and-coming artists and galleries. Sluice brings works from 14 exhibitors and a full weekend of educational programming to 26 South Molton Lane in Mayfair -- and it’s all free of charge.

If that’s not enough, it all happens again in a few months with Frieze’s long-awaited New York debut on Randall’s Island, May 4-7, 2012.

RACHEL CORBETT is the news editor of Artnet Magazine. She can be reached at Send Email