Special exhibition programming and the curatorial wing of an art fair play an essential role as feeder programs for bringing emerging artists and galleries into the world of high retail. To learn more about how Frieze selects exhibitors for its project-driven sectors, we caught up with Jacob Proctor, Curator at the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society and Co-advisor for Frieze's 2016 Frame and Focus sections.
This year, the popular sectors comprise 18 solo presentations from galleries founded in or after 2009 (Frame) and 32 one-, two-, or three-person curated booths from galleries 12-years-old or younger (Focus). Proctor gets into just what the advisors look for during their selection process, and helps us get a feel for the trends emerging at Frieze New York this season.
Valerie Keane, Kazu X, 2015, acrylic, stainless steel, polyolefin, rubber, neon, electronic transformer, 157 x 23 x 5 cm
Exhibiting with High Art, Paris, for Frame
ArtSlant: What was your role as advisor to Frame and Focus?
Jacob Proctor: There are two curators who advise on Frame and Focus. This year I am working together with Fabian Schöneich, who is based in Frankfurt. As advisors, we help the selection committee to decide which galleries to include in those sections.
AS: What's the process? Is the sector application-based?
JP: We’re not commissioning or curating as such, rather we’re helping the committee to select from the proposals they receive. However, we also encourage galleries who we personally feel are strong to apply, often discussing in advance the artists they might consider applying with, or helping them to develop a proposal that works for both the gallery and for the fair.
Patricia L Boyd, still from 1:1, 2015. Exhibiting with Jan Kaps Gallery, Frame
AS: How did you shape or influence the selection?
JP: We both travel a lot and pay close attention to the young galleries that are relevant in their local or regional context, identifying galleries that have an energy and are setting the agenda in their own scene, but who also have international ambitions. It’s not necessarily an easy thing for a young gallery to do, to come to an international art fair and stand out.
AS: What's the importance of a solo section like Frame in the context of a larger fair like Frieze?
JP: Solo presentations encourage young galleries to focus their efforts and resources, while at the same time encouraging audiences to focus their attention on works by artists that may well be unfamiliar. A strong solo presentation is like a miniature exhibition, and the memorable ones can really help artists to gain visibility with curators and collectors. It’s also an important way for young galleries to establish themselves in the international market. Obviously it’s important for the galleries to sell work, but I think that in the long run it’s often more about the connections made and the relationships that develop out of their participation in the section.
Ben Peterson, She-She, 2015. Ceramic, paint, 13 1/2 x 7 3/4 x 4 in. Exhibiting with Ratio 3, Focus
AS: Did you notice any trends emerge from the gallery proposals or the final roster?
JP: It’s reflective of larger tendencies in contemporary art, but I’m noticing a lot of experimentation with new kinds of production technologies, acknowledging the virtual while at the same time being very attentive to the specific materiality of a given work. At the same time, there’s a fair amount of re-examination of natural materials, especially in sculptural practices.
AS: What should we be keeping our eye on?
JP: I think you will see a resurgent concern with identity, especially with the articulation of gender identity and the fluidity thereof. It’s something that can be felt in a number of projects this year, both by young artists but also historical work that people are now becoming interested in.
—The ArtSlant Team
Image at top: Phillip Zach, Untitled Properties χ, 2016 (detail), Powder coated expanded steel sheet, polyurethane foam, sand, pigments, 96 x 48 in. (243.84 x 121.92) cm. Courtesy of Freedman Fitzpatrick.