Private views encourage drinking, and make you feel slightly smarter for doing it. That, as they say, is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know: stop yourself a moment short of sloshing champagne up your sleeve, and slurring about “contemporaneity” – blah blah yabber Spartacus Chetwynd – and you are golden, absolutely, at least with the other half-cut Big Talkers. Frieze, in particular, is a platform for this dopey-drunken talk; negotiating the thing requires a certain level of tact.
Do not take drugs from the artists, and especially not from the journalists. The artists will always outlast you in a game of Marco Polo-nose, and the journalists – believe me, I know – are so poor that they’re forced to prey on the artists. Make reference to last year’s biggest stunt by attempting to sell your glass of champagne, including a makeshift certificate which you’ve drawn on a complimentary napkin. If this isn’t offensive enough, try splashing the drink in the champagne-buyer’s face: this should provoke some heartfelt musing on the state of the economy from your sodden target, with all the subtlety of Jankowski’s yacht.
Christian Jankowski, The Finest Art on Water, 2011, yacht, Commissioned and produced by Frieze Foundation for Frieze Projects 2011, Frieze Art Fair 2011; Photo by Linda Nylind / Courtesy of Linda Nylind/ Frieze.
Speaking of subtlety: DIS (“the post-internet lifestyle magazine”) will be staging a twenty-four-hour shoot for which they’ve recruited twenty breastfeeding women, and this, I imagine, will probably be a popular topic for gabbing at parties, as Lord knows art-types love a stunt, especially if it’s got areolas. Nipples aren’t unheard of at Frieze: there’s a precedent via Richard Prince, though his is the giddy American Dream – a postcard from the land of the free. There, if you felt faint, you could whistle The Star Spangled Banner and stare at the Buick, but here, I’d suggest preparing a quip about mammaries, or a political comment. A curator is also being hired to act out a heart-attack as performance – staging a copycat aneurysm next to the Zahle in the sculpture park will render you a provocateur, and might get you into the newspaper roundups. Elsewhere at the fair, the artist Sturtevant will be engaging the campy film director John Waters in a discussion about stupidity. Why not create a pithy anecdote – for repetition at parties – by waiting for its Q&A segment, and then repeating the previous question? Delivery and inflection should be absolutely identical: et voila! It's both satire and homage, and requires no original thought.
Resist the temptation to ask the invigilators what the artworks mean, if only because experience suggests they’re occasionally frightened by it (“It showed in New York,” I saw one say to a tourist, as if this answered the question. “It’s art. He’s very famous, and I think he won the Turner Prize”). Enquiring about the work will also invalidate the ultimate payoff: the chance to add a phony-baloney interpretation of your own. This year, the Emdash prize has been awarded to Cécile B. Evans for an artwork in which “non-art experts…describe works in the fair in a subjective manner.” Why shouldn’t art appreciation, beyond the jokes, be egalitarian? Say day is night, say black is white – say a heart-attack isn’t art, if you feel like it. Hell! You can attribute anything you like to contemporary art. “Art is not a thing,” as Elbert Hubbard said, “it is a way.” Though there may be a superyacht, a bar, or the nipples of twenty women, there is no “right” or “wrong” in art – there is only the general “way” of things. Be strong in your convictions, and be unafraid to take a stand; who knows? Perhaps your boldness will be admired by a gallerist of some repute, or, failing that, by one of Bryan Ferry’s kids, or something.
If all else fails, fake a coronary! I hear you can get one from alcohol poisoning. What could be more artistic than having one from freebird champagne at Frieze?
(Image on top: Lisson Gallery, Frieze Art Fair 2011; Photo by Linda Nylind / Courtesy of Linda Nylind/ Frieze.)