Frieze has become synonymous with "modern and cool" – or so says The Guardian. Whoever is saying it, it is true that there will be fashion magazines snapping street style shots of the COS-clad (COS in fact being one of the partners of Frame this year, Frieze’s embyronic sibling) visitors. Frieze has built a brand that has made contemporary art "covetable", fashionable, and, the corollary would be, uninviting. So, what do London’s maverick art types really get up to during what is touted as the biggest week of the year for contemporary art in the capital? We asked some of them for their thoughts, opinions, insider tips and anecdotes from yesteryear. Droll, AWOL, or overloaded, the insights that came back do prove that Frieze is still just like Marmite: sticky and controversial.
Fisun Güner, Art Editor, The Arts Desk
“I have to say I really hate going to Frieze, so haven't even arranged to get my press pass this year. I've actually only been once – yeah, I know, people might be surprised at that, so not sure I can say anything that's interesting – for TAD I usually ask Josh Spero to cover (he loves it – I would just be bored writing about it).”
James Edson, Director, The Wayward Gallery
“As far as Frieze goes, I've never been to the actual event… I think I went to the party once. I was given a ticket last year and the queue was so big I left after an hour of it. To be honest I wasn't really in the buying market and don't really like the whole elitist attitude. Isn't it 12 grand for a gallery to be a part even if you were lucky enough to be invited? But what do I know…”
Lucky PDF, Artists
"Frieze is very professional.”
Rebecca May Marsten, Director, Limoncello Gallery
“I won't make much of Frieze this year, as I’ll be at SUNDAY Art Fair again, but looking forward to seeing how the new Focus section works in London. We were in the F-line in New York this May and it felt much less distinct than Frame – more integrated with the big boys really. That was nice.
"Almost a decade on from interning during the first Frieze, rolling dizzily down Paola Pivi's grass slope and texting my mum to tell her I'd seen Jeffrey Archer (humiliatingly corrected – it was Nicholas Serota), Limoncello is just about to announce working with an artist who was a fellow roller. Good things come out of Frieze (mistaken star-spotting excluded).”
Toby Kidd, Art PR, Pelham Communications
“If you want to see incredible art then you would get a lot more from visiting the actual galleries and taking advantage of the premium quality curated shows on during this time. The experience is much more enriching getting a broader understanding of each artist and gallery. You will be able to ask questions of the gallery staff and they will have more time to spend with you, whereas the fair is primarily about doing business so the atmosphere is much more frenetic.”
Francesca Gavin, Art Editor and Curator
“Top tip? Timetable – it's the only way to survive the week especially with the onslaught of off-site openings around the city. On Tuesday night alone I'm struggling to include David Noonan at Stuart Shave, Eddie Peake and Prem Sahib and Southard Reid, Noble and Webster at Blain Southern and of course the infamous Lisson Frieze party. At Frieze itself Cécile B. Evans' Emdash award-winning proposal will be my first port of call. Sunday Art Fair is definitely the best off-site fair – on Sunday Rhys Coren is doing a take-over of the bar which I will definitely check out. Dis magazine and Lucky PDF are also doing a joint party which I expect will be an exhausting end to an already full week.”
Lorenzo Ronchini, Ronchini Gallery
“The first days of Frieze are mostly taken up by meeting up with and bumping into old friends who have come in from overseas. So I usually come back on the weekend to take a proper look at the art when there are less industry to bump into.”
Disco-DJS, practised art party DJs
“For a very considered industry focussed on new and forward thinking innovations, the musical choices galleries have made for their Frieze events have been staggeringly bland or slapdash…But some musical highlights from Frieze have been:
1. Haroon Mirza DJing at the Lisson party 2011. Haroon doesn't restrict his dazzling sonic delights to just his sculptures.
2. Top Nice DJs at the SUNDAY / Mousse party. The London / Stockholm purveyors of Italo, Skwee and Bass music rinsed the opening party for SUNDAY, the alter ego of Frieze. Particular highlights came from Enchante aka artist / curator Guy Gormley.
3. Canadian conceptual artist and rock-n-rolla, Rodney Graham has a tendency to arrive at parties with his guitar or box of 7"s and knock out a few impromptu numbers.
4. Cory Arcangel talking music with Paul Peroni dressed as a tomato, for Lucky PDF’s Frieze Project 2011. Cory has an incredible knowledge of music although his propensity towards Kelly Clarkson raised a few eyebrows with music purists at The Wire Magazine. ”
Martin Tickner, Neu Galleries
“If there is honesty, if there is integrity, if there is heart and truth in any field of any industry or endeavour then it is important and validated to highlight it and extoll the virtues of it. For Frieze, this is the most superficial and standard corruption at all levels to sell the unworthy to the ridiculous.”
(Image on top: Frieze Art Fair 2011; © Photograph by Graham Carlow; Courtesy of Graham Carlow/ Frieze.)