Frieze is entering their first foray into the world of the New York art fair with a splash…a splash that lasts about 20 minutes and comes in the form of their very own fair ferry. Bucking the trend of setting up shop at an armory or around the piers along the perimeter of Manhattan, Frieze New York will be its own destination, creating an immersive experience on its very own island--Randall’s Island. Drawing collectors to the windy waterfront of the West Side Highway is a feat in the chilly month of March, but does Frieze have what it takes to lure their clients out of their comfort zone, and to another island, near the Bronx no less?
If the droves of people at No Longer Empty’s opening of “This Side of Paradise” at the Bronx’s Andrew Freedman home was any indication, New Yorkers are ready to experience art outside of their comfort zones of Chelsea and the Lower East Side.
Greg Parma Smith, Ultimate Color Pencil Techniques 1, 2012, oil and acrylic on canvas, 46 x 32 in. Courtesy of Balice Hertling, Paris. At Frieze Frame R12.
And an experience is what Frieze is crafting for their Stateside debut. Most of us have probably not even visited the historic Randall’s Island, although it is a literal park wonderland, with five miles of waterfront pathways, sports fields, tennis courts and a state-of-the-art golf center. Like Governor’s Island, it is also an urban escape for secluded picnicking or relaxing under the shade of the many trees, with an idyllic view of the Manhattan skyline.
Rather than constructing another tent on a highway, the art fair will feel like an art adventure. The fair will be accessible by subway and bus, but the best (and most escapist) way to get there will be on the free Frieze-sanctioned ferry, which will depart every 15 minutes from 35th Street on the East River, and navigate its way north, getting both locals and visitors in inspirational moods with magical views of the city that can really only be experienced from the water.
Alec Soth, Charles Lindbergh's Boyhood Bed, Little Falls, Minnesota, 1999, framed digital chromogenic print mounted to Dibond, 32 x 40 in., courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery. Frieze B25.
Frieze’s attention to the journey continues with a curated sound program that will be played in the BMW VIP shuttle services. In order to enhance the island experience, Frieze has commissioned audio works by Martin Creed, Rick Moody and Frances Stark, who were chosen by curator Cecilia Alemani. Songs, short stories and lullabies will be the backdrop as visitors are shuttled around the island, with Manhattan in the background, and the snaking Frieze pavilion in the distance.
This attention to detail and emphasis on not just the 180 galleries exhibiting but the overall experience of the fair as a whole, has the potential to make Frieze the art fair of the future. Breaking away from the focus of booth after booth of art fairs as of late, and returning to the altruistic and wonderfully naïve idea of art as an experiential force. Coupled with the preferred rising temperatures of May (versus the Armory Arts Week in March), the new “Frieze Week” is looking to become the stuff that art dreams are made of, hidden away in its own “private” art island of enchantments. To complete the fantastical feel, Frieze’s Special Projects will utilize its unique location set apart from the city blocks, taking full advantage of Randall's Island’s extra space. A reconstruction of John Ahearn’s historic “South Bronx Hall of Fame” sculptural casts will commemorate their exhibition at the seminal South Bronx alternative space, Fashion Moda, which closed in 1993. A patch of grass will be transformed into Latifa Echakhch’s interpretation of tumbleweed, and Uri Aran will take over an abandoned structure, turning it into an examination room. The grounds surrounding the SO-IL designed pavilion will be turned into a multi-use sculpture park, with mirror sculptures by Virginia Overton, a circus tent-like shadow theater by Ulla von Brandenberg, and a county fair-trailer by Joel Kyack. The fair’s location itself is the cause and inspiration of this creativity, as none of these projects would even be imaginable in a location like Pier 94, let alone near another fair in the thick of the city.
Virginia Overton, Untitled (mirrors for Randall’s Island), 2012. Courtesy of the artist.
Whether this creativity and magic will spread to the other fairs, who jumped the Armory Week ship in order to anchor themselves to Frieze, remains to be seen. Frieze is renowned as a world-class fair, worthy of aligning with, but its satellites, such as NADA and Pulse, will be lacking the romantic location that could make Frieze not just an art fair, but an art experience.
At least it will be warm…
Djordje Ozbolt, Sufi's Dilemma, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 173.5 x 184.3 cm / 68 1/4 x 72 1/2 in; Courtesy of Hauser & Wirth, Frieze B6.