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Los Super Elegantes & assume vivid astro focus
Make It With You: A Slow Dance Club Installation
auf der Frieze Art Fair 2004-10-21
Foto © Maria Morais

Emanuel Perrotin Gallery, Frieze Art Fair 2004
Photo © Maria Morais

If the fair has grown in volume and content, it still hasn't lost anything of its unique mixture between seriousness and entertainment, professionalism and provocation. There's no place like London for opposites to meet in such a perfect way. The high-gloss reflective black walls on which the Parisian gallery Perrotin presented works by the Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami and the disco charm of the Frieze-commissioned installation Slow Dance Club by the artists' group Los Super Elegantes (Los Angeles) seem to be worlds apart; here, they are seamlessly brought together under a single roof.

While the DJs of Los Super Elegantes actually played their sets, a touch of club atmosphere characterized the event in Regent's Park. This also went for the ambience of Deutsche Bank's VIP lounge. In reference to the advertising campaign's motif, the white lounge was decorated with flower bouquets that resembled still lifes from Marc Quinn's Frozen Garden. Nearly eighty percent of the fair's visitors don't come to Frieze to buy art, but to experience it close hand. Indeed, one could stand in line with gallery dealers, critics, artists, museum directors, and the rich and famous at the entrance or shoulder to shoulder in the cafés, sweat or freeze together with Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Moss, or Elle McPherson under the ridiculous air ventilation system blowing down from the ceiling, or blow kisses and exchange champagne glasses.

Deutsche Bank Art's press booth at Frieze Art Fair 2004
Photo © Maria Morais

Bag design by Yositaka Amano (Edition of 1 500),
Deutsche Bank Art, 2004
Photo © Maria Morais

But even standing in line occasionally turned into a performance. Thus, some visitors unwittingly joined one of the Czech artist Roman Ondák's staged queues, consisting of actors engaged for the sole purpose of creating endless lines at stands, in corners, and other apparently nonsensical locations. Ondák's human line also gathered at Deutsche Bank Art's press stand, designed in futurist silver and pink hues, and immediately equipped itself with the carrying bags designed by the Japanese Manga artist Yoshitaka Amano - a limited edition object created especially for Frieze and handed out together with the press portfolio. It was exactly this nonchalant atmosphere that characterized events at the fair. Frieze also offered a broad accompanying program ranging from talks on the theme "Contemporary Collecting" with collectors such as Harald Falckenberg, Susan May from the Arts Council Collection, or Alistair Hicks from the London Deutsche Bank Collection to DJ performances by the rock band Franz Ferdinand. Similar events will have to live up to this in the future.

Scope: opening event, Meliá White Hotel, London
Photo Courtesy of Scope Art Fair

Throughout the fair's duration, the entire city seemed immersed in an art autumn. Buyers looking for affordable young art could find it at two additional fairs in unusual locations. The Zoo Art Fair at the London Zoo and Scope, which took place in the rooms of the Meliá White Hotel, offered alternatives on a thoroughly professional level. Visitors could cram their schedule from morning to night with art events such as champagne breakfasts in Bruce Nauman's sound installation at the Tate Modern or Steve McQueen's show in the South London Gallery, guided tours through the London Collection of Deutsche Bank, and countless private views from the Royal Academy of Arts to the Saatchi Gallery, Gimple Fils, or Jay Jopling's White Cube Gallery. And if that wasn't enough, one could also experience a memorable event at the opening of Gregor Schneider's installation Family Schneider - At Home. The German artist, who won the Golden Lion at the 2001 Venice Biennale, created a surreal environment in two row houses in the borough of Whitechapel with the support of the agency Artangel. For ten minutes, the isolated viewer walks, crawls, and gropes through musty kitchens, living rooms, and cellars, passing by unnoticing inhabitants and subjected to an atmosphere of absolutely claustrophobic normality.

Works by Ugo Rondinone at Sadie Coles HQ
Frieze Art Fair 2004
Photo: Maria Morais, Berlin

Scheduled between the Berlin Art Forum and Art Cologne, the Frieze Art Fair, supported by Deutsche Bank, demonstrates London's nonchalant and effortless rise to hosting one of the most important art fairs of the world. And indeed, the event's organizers can look to the future with optimism. It's questionable, however, whether this will make their competitors in Cologne and Berlin happy. Not only will they have to worry about American collectors flooding the British capital in hordes; many of the participating German galleries have already announced that they'd rather travel to London in the future than take part in the fairs at home.

Translation: Andrea Scrima

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