Prominent Podium
A Preview of Frieze New York

Jerry Saltz is one of the stars of American art criticism. He posts his provocative commentaries on Twitter and Instagram, where he has more than 150,000 fans. For Facebook, however, some of his recent posts went a bit too far: because he kept breaking the social networking site’s regulations, his account was deactivated for some timeg. This makes Saltz an ideal guest for this year’s Frieze Talks, where artists, curators, and critics are invited who challenge the public in a variety of ways. Among the participants are provocateurs such as Paul McCarthy and Leigh Ledare, who make shocking, sexually explicit works. Christian Jankowski, who continues the art world’s conventions ad absurdum, is also a guest at Frieze New York. Jankowski not only expands the concept of art, but interweaves his artist’s talk with songs by legendary Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso. In June, Jankowski will also make an appearance at the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, where his film 16mm Mystery will be on view in the exhibition Checkpoint California—20 Years Villa Aurora in Los Angeles.

Pierre Bismuth, the world’s only Oscar-winning conceptual artist, will also take part in the talks; the French artist was awarded for his collaboration on the screenplay of Michel Gondry’s cult film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. At the fair, he will introduce Where Is Rocky II?, an absurd documentation for which Bismuth embarked on a search for a lost work by Ed Ruscha—an artificial rock that was deposited somewhere in the Mojave Desert. On the other hand, the conversation between Thelma Golden and Arnold Lehman focuses on a basic question. The director of the Studio Museum Harlem and the head of the Brooklyn Museum will talk about who, exactly, museums are there for.

The talks are certainly among the highlights at this year’s Frieze New York. Deutsche Bank has been a partner of the fair since it was founded in 2012 as one of the most important art events in the US. Its agenda is both global and regional: in the fair tents in the park on Randall’s Island, 63 New York galleries will join 130 participants from more than 30 countries. Among them are heavyweights like Gagosian, Hauser & Wirth, and Ropac, where new works by Imran Qureshi, the 2013 “Artist of the Year,” will be on view. But up-and-coming galleries such as The Breeder, dépendance, and Rampa, all of whom present discursive positions, are also well represented at the fair.  

The sections Frame and Focus, where young galleries present selected individual positions or curated projects, promise new discoveries. Antenna Space, a Shanghai-based gallery, will take part for the first time, showing Liu Ding, an artist whose work investigates the unwritten rules of the art market. On the other hand, Than Hussein Clark at the booth of the Berlin Mathew Gallery investigates how social power relations are reflected in design.

The new section Spotlight, which was originally conceived for London Frieze Masters, is a real gain for the New York fair. It’s run by Adriano Pedrosa, artistic director at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo. Spotlight is dedicated to the pathbreakers of the current scene, among them media art pioneer Lynn Hershman Leeson and British “Walking Artist” Hamish Fulton, who goes on extended hikes and documents his physical and emotional experiences with the camera. At the same time, artistic positions can be seen at Spotlight that have long been neglected by Western art criticism, for instance Ibrahim El-Salahi from Sudan, one of the most important proponents of African modernism, and Brazilian artists Anna Bella Geiger and Antonio Dias, both of whom are represented in the Deutsche Bank Collection.

Also of key importance for the fair’s profile are the non-commercial sections Frieze Projects and Sounds, which feature a labyrinth designed by Aki Sasamoto that also functions as a three-dimensional personality test. While the Japanese artist hides her construction in a secret room, Korakrit Arunanondchai prefers to place his works in the midst of the fair’s bustling activity: his denim-covered massage chairs extend a bit of wellness on the go to visitors stressed by the visual and intellectual overload at Frieze. Xaviera Simmons, an artist in the Deutsche Bank Collection, presents a new sound collage. In her works she blends influences from avant-garde composers like John Cage with jazz, hip-hop, and soul. Like all works for Frieze Sounds, Simmons’s work, titled Number 18, will be played in the VIP fair limousines, but will also be freely available in the Internet at friezeprojectsny.org.

Finally, Frieze Education sets out to make contemporary art accessible to kids and youths from. The program, which was made possible by Deutsche Bank, is aimed at high school students and children from underserved communities across all five boroughs. On offer are tours through the fair as well as workshops with prominent artists such as Urs Fischer and Julie Mehretu and the online art magazine Triple Canopy. The Frieze Teens Workshops take place prior to the fair: together with artists, curators, gallery dealers, and representatives of art initiatives, young creatives can work on realizing their own personal “dream project.” And who knows—maybe a cornerstone for a future presence at Frieze New York will be laid in the process.

Frieze New York
Randall’s Island, Manhattan
5/14 – 5/17/2015