The Projects are always amongst the most exciting pieces at Frieze, offering as they do a less conventional approach to exhibiting. Surrounded by the endless international gallery stands, Projects tends to be more theatrical in tone, and allows the eight commissioned artists to be showmen. Last year I loved Simon Fujiwara’s Frozen, a series of imagined archaeological excavations that rightly won the Cartier Award 2010. This year I’m excited to see two installations in particular; Christian Jankowski’s merging of the auction and the art fair in his untitled yacht sale and Pierre Huyghe’s curated aquarium.
For his installation and film piece Jankowski, a German artist, will work with a luxury yacht dealer to auction off one of its specimens to a Frieze buyer. What is unusual here is the duality of the work being sold, as it will be auctioned both as a Jankowski artwork and as an operational boat. In such a sales-orientated environment, a strong commentary on the commercial value of art and the power of the highest bidder will make for exciting viewing, and I wonder how the adrenaline of an auction will work in the midst of serious art fair networking. The piece also raises questions as to whether the auction itself qualifies as a work of art, or whether this prestige should be attributed to the yacht alone. In time, it will be interesting to see how the buyer uses the piece and the practicalities involved should they wish to take a work of art out on the water.
French artist Huyghe’s work will offer a more intimate experience in that it will use a live aquarium to tell a fictional story about the tank’s inhabitants. The seawater creatures participating will be ascribed roles by the artist through the manipulation of their conditions but the ways in which they interact and the relationships derived from this interaction will be natural, bringing a sense of spontaneity to the piece. The intention here appears to be that the viewer will witness another world at close quarters whilst not actively engaging with it, and I look forward to seeing how this works in a busy art fair. Will the aquatic drama distract the viewer from the surrounding mania or will the buzz of Frieze overwhelm any attempts at concentration? Either way, Huyghe’s piece will add another dimension to the performance art genre.
The Frieze Projects promise to be as enthralling as last year; start getting excited.
~Alex Field, a writer living in London.
(Images: Pierre Huyghe; Christian Jankowski; Courtesy Frieze Foundation)