In New York right now, particularly in contemporary art world circles and cliques, it’s all about Frieze.
Click images to enlarge.
Since announcing late last summer that they’d be invading Manhattan with their prestigious fair, previously held solely in London, co-founders Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover have been trying to impress everybody, and they’ve done a very good job of it. Frieze New York, opening to the public this Friday, has developed strategic, buzz-y partnerships. Even the Frieze Tent, where all the deals will take place, which has been designed by Brooklyn-based, soon-to-be-starchitects SO-IL, has its own Twitter @FriezeTent. All of this activity is sure to attract interested, jet-setting collectors, some of whom are likely still trying to locate Randall’s Island on their GPS, the somewhat off-the-radar but on-the-money site selected for the Frieze festivities. i-D online recently caught up with Sharp to find out what all of the hoopla is about.
Why did you decide to bring Frieze to New York? Having lived in New York for fourteen years it is now my home town, and I would love there to be a time in the year when everyone comes to town. A lot of galleries have said to us over the years that they would love to do a New York fair, but there wasn’t one that was right for them, and they encouraged us to consider opening one. The problem was that there was no ideal site, it was only when I found Randall’s Island that I knew we could do something on the same scale and with the same ambition as we do in London, but with its own identity too.
There’s a lot of buzz and excitement about your decision. What can we look forward to? We have 180 galleries in Frieze New York which makes it the largest fair we have ever produced. We’re pleased that many of the galleries that exhibit in London are participating, lots of the big name galleries have come with us, however we also have a section called Frame, for galleries under six years old showing solo artist presentations, and Focus, which will include galleries under ten years old showing up to three of their artists. These sections will allow visitors to see one of the broadest spectrums of contemporary galleries from around the world. There’s also a Projects program with specially commissioned works dotted across Randall’s Island, which we hope will encourage people to explore beyond the confines of the tent. Our Talks program also takes the island as a source of inspiration by investigating a number of issues around the theme of mapping. Other elements to look forward to are the Sculpture Park along the East River and of course our restaurants and cafés. Plus the structure of the fair itself, designed by Brooklyn-based SO–IL architects is a stunner, playful, light and beautiful.
Most New Yorkers are, famously, anti-inter borough travellers. How can we get to Randall’s Island?! The fact that Randall’s Island is a new destination for most New Yorkers is part of its appeal. We have always tried to introduce people to new artists, works and ideas. Now we’re introducing a new destination too – one that you don’t have to travel far to get to. A great way to get to Frieze New York is by boat – the Frieze ferry is from 35th street on the East River – there are also buses from 125th street.
How will Frieze New York differ from Frieze London? We have different galleries, a different location, a different structure, different food, a different selection committee, a different curator and different spelling. It is still us, and a lot of the same galleries, but a fair can’t help but take on the energy of the city where it is located. And being by the water is a big change in speed. Not to mention it is New York in the Spring!
What is the position and purpose of the art fair in the current contemporary art market? Art fairs are places people meet, buy art, and learn. The temperature of the market is taken. Galleries only have limited opportunities to meet new people and fairs are important for them in that regard, as well as places to do business.
Frieze New York runs from 4th – 7th May 2012.
Text: Ricky Lee
Images from top: Tony Oursler ‘Soft 79, 2011′ courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York / Diana Thater ‘Untitled (Kelly), 2011′ © Diana Thater, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth / Ryan McGinley ‘Whirling Swirl 1, 2011′, courtesy of Team Gallery, New York / Adrian Ghenie ‘Study for Self Portrait, 2011′, courtesy of the artist and Plan B Clu, Berlin / Jorge Méndez Blake ‘The Capital and the Wall, 2009′, courtesy of the artist and Meessen De Clercq, Brussels and OMR, Mexico City / Gillian Wearing ‘Self Portrait of Me Now in Mask, 2011′, courtesy of Maureen Paley, London / View of Frieze NY.