Friezer Burn: Frieze, ArtExpo, and the paradox of taste
When artist and veteran Frieze visitor Darren Jones attended ArtExpo last month he found a parallel art world with its own culture and convictions.
Depending on one’s relationship to art fairs such as Frieze, the social and professional rituals associated with attending them can cause fevered excitement, or make the blood run, well, cold. Visit often enough and those galleries and artists that have been admitted to this carefully guarded system reveal the political hierarchies of this particular art world. While each fair has its own approach, thousands of works, and new artists each year, the perennial experience can be one of creeping homogeneity. There is interesting work to see, but much of it doesn’t digress far from the aesthetic values and informed conceptualism of the contemporary canon, approved by a cultural one percent of curators, dealers, museum directors, and collectors. I omit critics from this list as they report on, rather than determine what we see. There is variety of course, but the pervasive sense is that the art and styles of the fairs have a generally repetitious nature. Under such conditions enthusiasm for making value judgements of one’s own can be dulled as we are trained to understand and accept what is being promoted—and sold—as important art.
Considering how much art is made, and that there are many approaches to creative expression, what might a different kind of art fair look like? Is there something out there that accommodates a different experience and offers the chance to regard taste and the structures of artistic worth in a wider context?