You’ve no doubt already seen Renate Bertlmann’s provocative dildo works all over Instagram, they were an instant hit and a brilliant emblem for the new section at Frieze this year that follows the huge success of last year’s The Nineties. Curated by Alison M. Gingeras, Sex Work: Feminist Art & Radical Politics provides a platform for nine solo presentations by important female artists who have been working on the fringes of feminist practice since the 1970s. Expect critical explorations of female identity through explicit, in your face, full-of-attitude works by artists including Judith Bernstein, Penny Slinger, Mary Beth Edelson, Betty Tompkins. The Tate actually acquired Dorothy Iannone‘s Wiggle Your Ass For Me (1970) for it’s permanent collection, proving that sex really does sell.
Over the years, gallerists have realised the importance of creating an engaging environment in which to show their wares at a fair and that hanging a painting on a wall doesn’t cut it anymore. When Frieze Masters launched in 2012, it provided the perfect respite from it’s contemporary sister and also played host to some of the most fun, evocative and thought provoking presentations from the fabrication of a collectors apartment to a hospital. And this year, Waddington Custot have surpassed all expectations with the recreation of Sir Peter Blake‘s studio that brings together not only works for sale by the artist but also elements from his personal collection of paraphernalia that hugely informs his practice. This stand alone is reason to visit Frieze Masters, it’s your own exclusive fly-on-the-wall moment.
Some stands at Frieze London teleported us back to the time of the Aesthetes and the Arts and Crafts movement, when artists created all aspects of the home environment including the wallpaper. Royal Academy of Arts grad Charlie Billingham’s eye-catching presentation at Madrid gallery Travesia Cuatro presented his satirically-inspired Regency-era-esque paintings against a backdrop of intriguing wallpaper that took over the entire stand. While Mary Reid Kelley turned Pilar Corrias’ stand into an immersive theatrical set for her latest sculptures and lightbox works that explore the political histories of America post World War II.
Although the art crowd might predominantly don autumnal tones and the obligatory-black, thankfully most of the work on show at Frieze London was bright and eye-popping, to cheer us in these times of international woe. There were zany abstract paintings by Eddie Peake. American artist KAWS, who’s monumental work in Frieze Sculpture has been the backdrop of sunny summer Instagram posts, took over Perrotin’s stand with his cartoon-themed vibrant murals. But just because the art was colourful doesn’t mean the message was necessarily light and without poignancy. Jenny Holzer‘s bold wall installation on Sprüth Mager’s stand was made up of a call to arms and culturally probing proclamations at the current state of affairs.
With everything that is going in the world, it might be time to reassess our allegiances. For their Frieze Project, Lucy & Jorge Orta invite you to become part of a collective world citizenship with their passport project Antarctica World Passport Office. At their deconstructed wagon-esque installation – actually made from a customised ex-army trailer and various army surplus – you’re asked to symbolically transfer your individual national identity to receive access to the no borders community. There are only 5,000 passports available during the fair, so be quick to join the new nation.
Want to see more art in London? Why don’t you check out these exhibitions currently on in the capital.