By Mary Mullaj
London’s Frieze Art Fair this year seemed to be more about experience than possession. Perhaps in response to recent economic changes, committed collectors still showed up last, but some just to look. Although there were paintings aplenty to choose from ranging from works by art world favorite Richard Prince, to Merlin Carpenter’s genuine and knockoff cashmere Burberry throws, mounted on stretchers, to abstractions by Albert Oehlen, the real focus of the fair was more cerebral and slightly less investor-friendly. Subversive projects, mostly in the realm of relational-aesthetics, were the real show-stoppers. For example, the artist “Norma Jeane” allowed smokers to put themselves on display in clear plastic booths outfitted with a single chair, water cooler, and ashtray. In another room, a creation by Tue Greenfort, a dehumidifier collected and bottle condensation from visitors bodies. In addition, the fair had many first time exhibitors, maintaining an image of an increasingly global and youthful art world in transition.
Maybe London’s Frieze Art Fair offers a glimpse of what the atmosphere will be like during the upcoming Miami Art Basel, the country’s largest art fair which is also a social and cultural highlight (December 4-7). There are several overlaps in participating artists, such as Miami-based artist Bert Rodriquez, who gave foot rubs in London. Special exhibition sections in Miami will include performance art, public art projects, and video art, which could suggest a certain similarity to London’s display. The fact that many collectors came to look rather than to buy at the Frieze presentations could be a preview of what sales might be like in Miami. However, in the past Miami Art Basel has had an increasing number of artists, galleries, collectors and visitors each year, and 2008 will most likely be no exception.