Oliver Koerner von Gustorf: The main theme of Frieze Projects is to examine the fair itself. Many works come across as ironic commentaries on the market and the various happenings surrounding the fair. How do you define yourself as a curator?
Neville Wakefield: Frieze is unique amongst the art fairs in that it offers a platform for artists to make work that engages with various aspects of the fair – the market, the situation, the mode of display and so on. My job is simply to make the dialogue between the artists and the fair as engaging as possible.
What were your criteria for selecting the artists?
I try to avoid the type of curating that provides strict criteria which each artist or artwork have to meet since this approach tends in my experience to limit possible outcomes. The danger, I find, with setting pre-formed criteria is that one can end up illustrating a pre-conceived curatorial idea. Rather than imposing this on the process I like to grow the idea out of conversation. These may begin with questions about what the fair means as an environment in which art is displayed, sold and nurtured but often end up in places very different from where they started.
An essential part of this year’s program are the Frieze Films, for which you invite non-artists to participate with their own short films via YouTube. What led you to this democratic, non-elitist approach?
Because film-making is generally so expensive and labor-intensive the weight of effort often goes into the pre-production with an outcome that is highly determined. Again, I was interested in applying a curatorial approach to film-making that offered freedom of possibility rarely available within the traditional film-world and YouTube seemed to be the perfect platform for this kind of activity.
Why did you seek inspiration for your film experiment in Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road?
Apart from being a truly profound and moving account of a post-apocalyptic future, as a visual essay The Road invokes many of the existing genres of film-making – sci-fi, coming of age, horror, road movie – making it the perfect armature for the more abstract short-form movies that we are seeking. The central character of the novel is the landscape and this seemed the perfect vehicle for film-makers who might be interested in visual language over narrative.
Are you satisfied with the creative output? How did you choose from the large number of films submitted?
I’m working with an editor and the selection process is twofold – on the one hand on the merit of individual films, on the other how clips might function within the overall composite. The quality of the material varies enormously which is, in part, what makes the process so exciting.
In what form do you plan to present the films at the Frieze Art Fair?
The films will be presented at the fair in the same manner in which they were submitted but we are also hoping that the final composite will be incorporated in the music program and shown in a theatre or cinema with live sound.