Frieze London 2017: A Smashing Success

by Vera • 11 Oct 2017

Each year the art world focuses its collective attention on the annual Frieze London Art Festival, and for a good reason. Showcasing a wide variety of artists from around the world ranging from the emerging to the iconic, Frieze London 2017 features work from over 160 of the world's leading art galleries and 1,000 of the most prominent artists representing thirty-one countries worldwide. When you add in the signature Frieze Projects and Talks programs, a curated collection of artist commissions, films, and talks, you are left with an immersive experience that would make any fan of fine art think he or she had died and gone to heaven.

New to the event, which celebrated its fifteenth year in 2017, was a titillating themed gallery dedicated to the work of radical feminist artists organised by scholar Allison Gingeras and curated by Ruba Katrib of SculptureCenter in New York. Titled "Sex Work: Feminist Art & Radical Politics." Focusing on female artists from the 1970's and 80's who pushed the envelope on feminism during that time, the collection highlights explicit sexual iconography mingled with radical political views for a truly stunning and thought-provoking experience.

Numerous artists were featured as part of the Sex Work exhibit, along with the galleries that supported them. Participants included Galerie Andrea Caratsch presenting Betty Tompkins; Blum and Poe presenting Penny Slinger; Richard Saltoun presenting Renate Bertlmann; Salon 94 presenting Marilyn Minter; and Hubert Winter presenting Birgit Jürgenssen. Gingeras describes Sex Work is designed to "pay homage to artists who transgressed sexual mores, gender norms and the tyranny of political correctness and were frequently the object of censorship in their day" as well as "highlighting the seminal role galleries have played in exhibiting the radical women artists who were not easily assimilated into mainstream narratives of feminist art."

The range of projects by the various artists was impressive, expanding far beyond the high-profile Sex Work exhibit to more contemporary fare. A personal favourite spot of mine was the booth of London-based upstart gallery Arcadia Missa, where the work of artist Hannah Black was of particular note. Black's work on her fantastic video installation lived up to the hype which has earned her the reputation as a rising star worth in the art world. As an added treat, Frieze London 2017 coincided with the opening of her solo show at London’s Chisenhale Gallery. Anyone coming to Frieze London would be doing themselves a grave disservice by failing to see Black's talent on full display.

As mentioned earlier, the Frieze Talks were another highly entertaining and thought-provoking component of the event not to be missed.  Curator Ralph Rugoff assembled a timely and highly engaging program centring around the topic of how "in an age of ‘alternative facts,' art’s capacity to beguile, disorientate and disrupt conventional notions of ‘the real’ can take on new meanings. " By combining traditional panel discussions alongside performance-conversations and lectures presented in the form of song, this year's Frieze Talks served as an anchor, bringing a refined sensibility that tied the entire week together nicely.

                                                       Curator Ralph Rugoff
As a self-confessed bookworm, I also spent more than my fair share of time in the Reading Room, meeting various writers, editors, and artists at the daily book signings and events. After just a few visits, my reading list is now full for the remainder of the year, and well into 2018.

My experience at Frieze London 2017 was once again one I will never forget, leaving me excited and filled with wonder about what next year will bring. If you have the opportunity to experience Frieze London and consider yourself a fan of fine art, you just cannot pass it up.






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