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?

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