Everyone loves to show off a bit at Frieze, and extrovert visitors have been taking full advantage of the karaoke machine on A Gentil Carioca’s stand, provided by the Rio-based artist’s collective Opavivará! At yesterday’s preview, Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York seemed especially popular—and for those feeling a little shy, another Opavivará! work takes the form of a cocktail trolley laden with Aperol, vodka, whisky and rum, with a juicer attached. But any drink-dispensing is strictly DIY, with a gallery staffer keen to emphasise to thirsty collectors that “I’m not a barman”. And to drive the point home, a washing-up station is parked nearby to deal with any accidental spillages.
When art and politics collide
Monica Lewinsky. Credit: Laurie Rojas
The Nineties are back in vogue, with one of the most controversial figures of the era, Monica Lewinsky, making her presence felt during Frieze week. Our spies spotted the former White House intern at Gagosian Gallery’s launch of Ed Ruscha’s new show on Grosvenor Hill (until 17 December), where Monica was chatting to Anish Kapoor and the Italian art historian Germano Celant (above). No word yet of Lewinsky at Frieze London (let’s hope she heads straight to the Nineties section).
Nick Serota at the end of Gormley's Passage. Credit: Aimee Dawson
Visitors to London during Frieze week will no doubt drop in on Antony Gormley’s latest exhibition at White Cube Bermondsey (Fit, until 6 November). The show includes a series of jaw-dropping sculptures, such as Sleeping Field (2015-16), which is made of 500 small iron pieces depicting diminutive human figures. But the work that is really pulling in the crowds is Passage (2016), a 12m-long tunnel that envelops visitors who are brave enough to enter its foreboding steel structure. The guinea pigs who enter the darkness can’t see a thing as they walk through the tunnel, but on the way out, light streams into the passage through a crucifix-like gap. At the opening earlier this week, guests saw the Tate’s supremo Nicholas Serota (below) in the light, prompting a US visitor to comment that she “thought she had seen God, but in the end, it turned out to be Nick”.
Testing Oculus rift. Photo: Leslie Ramos
Oculus Rift virtual-reality headsets have only recently become available in the UK, but they are already getting full use on Seventeen Gallery’s stand, where the artist and film-maker Jon Rafman’s new virtual-reality video, Transdimensional Serpent (2016), is proving to be one of the runaway hits of the Focus section (above). Among those spotted sitting on the serpentine seating to experience this parallel universe of apocalyptic storms was Tate Modern’s senior curator Andrea Lissoni, who, as the curator of Philippe Parreno’s Turbine Hall commission, already knows a thing or two about being plunged into an immersive environment of strange sounds and visions.
The Guerrilla Girls name and shame
Iwona Blazwick, Frida Kahlo and Alice Rawsthorn. Photo: Louisa Buck
The Guerrilla Girls, who are rattling institutional cages at the Whitechapel Gallery and Tate Modern, have also been ruffling a few feathers. Speaking at a predominantly female gathering at the art collector Valeria Napoleone’s Kensington home last weekend, Frida Kahlo and Kathe Kollwitz—two of the group’s members—dismissed the claim of both Frieze fairs to be intensifying their focus on women this year, declaring that “to think of art as profit is an impoverished view” and cheekily adding, “we really believe in cheap art!” Along with the damning statistic that, out of nearly 400 European museums that received the group’s questionnaire on discrimination, only one in four replied, the masked duo also revealed that the non-responders included London’s very own Serpentine Gallery, which apparently diverted the missive to its press department, where it was greeted by silence. But Tate Modern’s director, Frances Morris, received an honourable mention for delivering on her commitment to increase the number of female artists represented in the museum’s collection to 30%. Not perfect, but getting there…