This feature is part of our week-long coverage of Frieze London art fair 2014, which runs from October 15-18 at Regent's Park and contains art from over 160 of the world's most exciting contemporary art galleries.
Last year we attended Frieze London art fair and learned many things about the state of contemporary art from the array of flashy, interactive, and genre-defying pieces. From Jennifer Rubell's Portrait of the Artist sculpture, which allowed visitors to sit in a giant, sculptural version of the artist's pregnant womb, to Ken Okiishi's "Frieze Projects" paintball installation, there was something provocative and Instagram-ready everywhere you looked. It was, as many pointed out, major sensory overload.
This year, the fair matures in a way that explores the evolving function of the art fair system, starting with the brilliantly commissioned "Frieze Projects," which in 2014 also include "Frieze Live" performances curated by Nicola Lees. These works encompass the sale of Frieze merchandise (including a Chanel-inspired bag) and a £32,000,000 house by Shanzhai Biennial in a booth at the fair's entrance, a new ballet per day by Nick Mauss (with music and text by Kim Gordon), a tour of the fair pointing out conspiracies in art and art-viewing by Sophia Al-Maria, and soup-tasting made from "potentially radioactive" vegetables grown in Fukushima, Japan by United Brothers.
Pieces like Shanzhai Biennial's "branding" of the Frieze art fair—through fashion objects and a comment on the prime real estate of their booth, by selling a dream mansion in central London—and Sophia Al-Maria's tours, are not only self-reflexive of the actual art fair, they are self-critical of it. Similarly, artists at Lisson Gallery's booth (Corey Arcangel, Ryan Gander, and Joyce Pensato) are manipulating how the public interacts with their works, outfitting staff members in art pieces and staging performances. Like Shanzhai Biennial, the carpet Corey Arcangel made for the Lisson booth is for sale, showing how both groups of artists are using the entirety of their spaces to their artistic and commercial advantages.
In a way that expands the conversation beyond art fairs, but uses the art fair as its crucial center, Frieze Artist Award winner Mélanie Metranga built a coffee shop with donation-based coffee, computers, and headphones for viewing her film, From A to B through E (perhaps a reference to Andy Warhol's The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again) book exploring emotion and commerce in the '60s, using Warhol's detached, first-person tone). Filmed during the construction of this year's fair, it explores the intense connection between emotional and monetary economies, where viewers watch a couple's relationship unravel as the fair gets constructed.
Last year's shiny Jeff Koons takeover of the Gagosian gallery booth was replaced by this year's kid-friendly Gartenkinder playground by Carsten Höller. Similarly, last year's still James Lee Byars tribute performance, titled Four in a Dress, was replaced by another Byars re-creation, 10 in a Hat, where the 10 performers moved and planted themselves throughout the fair, charming visitors with their shared pink hat. Last year's bed installation, that bubbled black, viscous liquid from its center (while artist Lili Reynaud-Dewar read a book around it), was more or less replaced with the soup at United Brothers' "Frieze Live" station, inviting anyone to sit, eat, and therefore perform at the installation titled Does This Soup Taste Ambivalent.
There are also noticeably less reflective, mirrored pieces overall, making the Frieze London experience more about rethinking the system of an art fair and the way we interact with art. And if nothing else, viewers can't help but smile when they visit Salon 94's booth—a collaboration between the gallery and The Smile Face Museum—where the walls are tiled with interpretations of the smile face by numerous artists.
Enjoy a selection of 30 Must-See Art Pieces From Frieze London Art Fair 2014, and if you're in London, visit the fair today through Sunday, October 18 from 12 p.m. - 7 p.m.