Today (5 May),Frieze New Yorkwillboldly openas planned, the first fair in the city to do so in more than a year.Over 60 internationalgalleries willoccupythebrand new location of The Shed in Hudson Yardsa glimmering sign that the city is inching back tonormalcy.
In pre-pandemic times, May was undoubtedly one of the busiest months on the New York calendar. Traditionally kicking off with the Met Gala and the concurrent opening of the Costume Institutes fashion exhibition (both of which will be held in September this year) and ending with the close of the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (now scheduled for November), this dynamic confluence of culture means the Frieze New York atmosphere will, no doubt, feel a little different.
With strict health and safety protocols in place, and a powerful social justice message that 50 galleries have chosen to participate in, this years edition promises to be like no other. Read our top tips for asafe, immersive,and memorable Frieze New York 2021, whether youre in thephysical or digital space:
Frieze Artist Award 2021 winnerPrecious Okoyomons Earthseed.Exhibition view at the Museum Fr Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, 2020. Courtesy of the artist, the Museum Fr Moderne Kunst, and Quinn Harrelson / Current Projects. Photography: Axel Schneider
Frieze New York 2021 is excitingly being staged at The Shed, leaving its Randalls Island venue for the first time since the fair launchedin 2012. Specifically designed to produce and foster innovation and creativity in all forms, the Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed space is one of the best-equipped venues in the Big Apple to meet the needs of a major event during these times.
The Shed boasts a modern ventilation system that has already been fitted with Merv-16 filtration, and ambient air turns over at least once every hour. Timed entry tickets, along with the requirement for proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours before arrival, a rapid antigen test within 24 hours before arrival, or proof of vaccination, are part of amulti-tiered approach that aims to assure guests and exhibitors of health and safety. Wherever possible, a one-way traffic flow has been instituted and hand-sanitising stations have also been installed throughout the venue.
This is a time for creativity, flexibility and collaboration, all of which have led us to an exciting opportunity to hold a smaller fair at The Shed, alongside Frieze Viewing Room online that will connect galleries and audiences all over the world, says Victoria Siddall, Frieze Art Fairs global director.
Awol Erizku,Untitled (Forces of Nature #1), (2014), which featured on the cover of the Vision & Justice issue of Aperture magazine.Courtesy of Ben Brown Fine Arts and the artist.Public Art Fund, in partnership with The Cooper Union, will present a free virtual conversationbetween Awol Erizku and curator Daniel SPalmer on 10 May to accompany the artistsJCDecaux bus sheltersacross New York City and Chicago
One of the most significant cornerstones of this years fair is the tribute to the Vision & Justice Project, founded by Sarah Elizabeth Lewis, associate professor at Harvard University. The educational initiative is dedicated to expanding visual literacy and examining the role of art in understanding the relationship between race and citizenship in the United States.
At its heart are two new commissions by Carrie Mae Weems and Hank Willis Thomas, who have each created homages to the project. Weems work comprises monumental images of unique book covers for theartists and scholars originally involved in the Vision &Justice Project in 2016. Thomas, co-founder of artist activist platform For Freedoms, recreates his iconic Who Taught You To Love? (2020), from the groups billboard campaign, while, also realised with For Freedoms, artist Mel Chin reveals a new billboard in solidarity with the Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
Hank Willis Thomas x For Freedoms,Who Taught You to Love?(2020).Courtesy of For Freedoms and the artist
More than 50 participating galleries in the fair have pledged their support to the Vision & Justice Projects cause by having their programming respondto the question: How are the arts responsible for disrupting, complicating, or shifting narratives of visual representation in the public realm?
The question of how visual representation functions in a representational democracy to expand our understanding of who counts requires all of us, reflects Lewis. Sothis collective engagement with the mission of the Vision & Justice Project by [this number of] galleries at Frieze feels significant. It is also fitting, since the work of artists is central to the mission. In the end, the tribute raises fundamental questions about the new potential of art fairs for social engagement, and highlights the relationship of the private act of looking, even at an art fair, for the public work of justice.
JR,28 Millimtres, Women Are Heroes, Action in Favela Morro da Providencia, Maria de Fatima,day view, Rio de Janeiro, 2008. The piece is part ofGaleriaNara RoeslersSurpassing marginson Frieze Viewing Room, which pays tribute to the Vision & Justice Project
New York-based multidisciplinary artist Precious Okoyomon is the winner of this years Frieze Artist Award, which provides an opportunity to present an ambitious commission at the fair. Supported by the Luma Foundation, Okoyomon will present a performance-activated installation conceived specifically for The Shed. This work extends Okoyomons practice by bringing together poetry, sensory elements, sculpture, light and sound in a celebration of self-expression and the value of the collective shared experience. Aiming to create what the artist describes as a portal for a space of fragilisation, the performance will be filmed and streamed online from the fairs opening date for viewers around the world to experience.
Precious Okoyomon Earthseed,exhibition view at the Museum Fr Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, 2020. Courtesy of the artist, the Museum Fr Moderne Kunst, and Quinn Harrelson / Current Projects. Photography:Axel Schneider
Jenny Schlenzka, executive artistic director at Performance Space New York and one of this years jurors, says, Simultaneously playful and critically inquisitive, this singular artist-poets work highlights the inevitability of change, decay, death, and rebirth. By extending poetry into the organic world, Okoyomon reminds us that apocalypse and utopia coexist and always have.
Aside from heralding significant milestones, Frieze New York willpushthe envelope on several other fronts:
The section of the fair dedicated to young galleries and emerging artistshas been assembled with the advice of gallerists Olivia Barrett and Sophie Mrner. It sees exciting talents presented by galleries that have been in operation for less than ten years, from Shanghai, Lisbon, Bogota, Los Angeles and New York.
Olga Balema, Interior biomorphic attachment, 2014/2020, steel, foam, latex. Photography: Gregory Carideo Courtesy the artist and Bridget Donahue, NYC
La Prairie artist commission
Luxury skincare brand La Prairie, an ardent supporter of the arts, unveils a time-focusedwork by Hong Kong-based artist Carla Chan, inspired by her artists residency at the Monte Rosa Hut near Zermatt in the Alps. The specially commissioned piece celebrates La Prairies new partnership with Frieze New York and Frieze London, expanding its commitment to investing in art and culture.
Carla Chan,Space BetweenThe Light Glows, commissioned byLa Prairie forFrieze New York 2021
In a nod to the ever-converging worlds of technology and art, The Looking Glass, is an exhibition of augmented reality artworks curated by Acute Arts artistic director Daniel Birnbaum and The Sheds chief curator Emma Enderby. It premieres works by Kaws, Cao Fei and Precious Okoyomon that spring to life on a smartphone when viewers arrive on site. Also visible through the Acute Art app, these works blend the physical and virtual worlds with an element of surprise.
Cao Fei, RMB City AR, augmented reality, 2020. Courtesy Cao Fei and Acute Art
Frieze Viewing Room
For those unable or not yet ready to visit the fair in person, the Frieze Viewing Room, now in its third edition, beams works from 160 galleries from six continents directly to your screen. Built to facilitate discovery and boasting improved image loading times, mobile functionality and user experience, the platform showcases a wide cross-section of works at all levels of the market.
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