Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Blagging It at Frieze

The man in the Siberian fur hat refused to buy a ticket.
I always get a press pass”, he cried from behind his orange sunglasses. “Don’t you know who I am?

We really didn’t. All throughout Frieze week, a blagger phenomenon besieged the press office. Faux confidence and exotic stories filled the queues. Minor fashion bloggers, botoxed ladies without ID who just “hopped over” from Asia, moustachioed men on shady press missions from Iran. Behind computer screens, we custom-trained twenty-somethings turned away candidates with polite yet firm excuses. “I am sorry, Madam, Frieze is not interested in your jewellery blog” said Lucy, a part-time curator from East London, to a slender woman in bangs.  You can purchase a ticket over there”.

The growing cheekiness of the public is not surprising. This year, a day ticket for Frieze London and Frieze Masters (for pre-2000 art) cost 35 pounds. That is double what the largest international exhibitions such as the Kassel Documenta or the Venice Biennale charge. And unlike these, Frieze is mostly about selling art.

Paul, an arts graduate from Sheffield, managed to get a press pass by covering the fair for a friend’s blog. “Why should I dish out all that money only to make the banker-types and snooty gallerists make me feel like I don’t belong here?

It might just be this perceived exclusivity of the commercial art world which made an anonymous collective stage subtle flash mobs on the fair’s opening day. Members, dressed as regular visitors, froze in casual poses at the ring of a bell. The effect was both comic and intriguing. A ginger teenager pointed at a man with a finger in his nose, petrified next to Hauser & Wirth’s $1.3 million sculpture by Paul McCarthy. “Is that real?

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Camp Flickr

A gayish interlude in black and white. 

Robert Mapplethorpe, Untitled (Self-portrait), 1973-1975

Krzysztof Jung, Zeus and Ganimedes, 1981

Krzysztof Jung, Pissoir, 1980

Man Ray, Untitled, 1930. Georges Malkine kissing his wife

Giuseppe Penone "To Turn Upside Down Your Own Eyes",
Turin 1970

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


The art world's fashion week is back - Frieze art fair opened last night in London's Regent Park. During the private preview the Thomas Bayrle-designed entrance corridor turned into a fierce runway as gallerists, celebrities and successful wannabes strutted along in meticulously curated outfits.

Thomas Bayrle's design for the 2012 Frieze London

Spottings: Turner Prize winner and cross-dressing artist Grayson Perry, starchitect Zaha Hadid, REM's Michael Stipe. And the most tastefully beautiful people you're likely to see anywhere in one night.

Mucha Actitud

The art (which at times feels secondary in the ego tsunami) was - as usual - more than anyone can swallow. Video installations by Ryan Trecartin, a head by Stephan Balkenhol, large-scale phography by Thomas Struth, or another naked Kate Moss by Mario Testino. These might not have been the most unexpected, but they are the art world's staples (like little black dresses) and will always sell.

Kate Moss naked again by Mario Testino
And with 175 galleries from around the world, diversity and experimentation were not missed. From incense burning on the lawns (Joanna Rajkowska, "Forcing a Miracle"), to self-portraits as rubbish bins (Michael Landy, see below) or tomato fights and horse-milk tastings (which FYI tastes like spermy earth and horse fur - Colloseum of the Consumed, Grizdale Arts), there is something there for every palate.
Just don't overdose.

Michael Landy, Self-portrait as a Rubbish Bin, 2012

Until Sunday, 14 October. Tickets here

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Hidden Magic

This week I saw an exhibition on the multitalent that was Bruno Schulz (1892-1942).

"Shifted Reality", in the Adam Mickiewicz Museum in Warsaw until November 20

Schulz was an eminent writer and painter in inter-war Poland, whose take on Jewish life, identity and the human condition was both magical and unsettling.

Bruno Schulz, Engraving,1921

Bruno Schulz, Autoportrait, 1933

Bruno Schulz, Engraving 1921

His death at the hands of a Nazi officer and the mystery around his remaining work (including a recent rediscovery, and illegal smugglings to Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Memorial) continue to fascinate.  Check out the New York Times' slide show, "Painting under Coercion" here

Influenced: Jerzy Janisch, "Sisters", 1933

Years after Schulz' death, his surrealist novel Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass (1937) was adapted by Wojciech Has into the award-winning "The Hour-Glass Sanatorium"(1973) - in full below.

The Hour-Glass Sanatorium (1973), with English subtitles

And if you can't get enough of Has, here is his other masterpiece, The Saragossa Manuscript (1965).

The Saragossa Manuscript (1965), with English subtitles.

A super-human weekend to everyone.

Monday, 1 October 2012

At the Moment

Drifting through a slow autumn in Warsaw. Things I like right now:

The volleyball lady on Koszykowa (Volleyball) Street

The Stalinist dream architecture on Constitution Square

Thinking about the ruins the city grew out of

Imagining the performances by pioneering 70s artist Krzysztof Jung 

The words of Witold Gombrowicz