As a young emerging artist, my experience at Frieze London was an incredible one. And thanks to my wonderful friend and mentor Eamonn Maxwell, I was able to attend the VIP preview events. I got to witness works by the likes of Marina Abramovic, Ana Mendieta, Bill Viola, Tracey Emin, Carolee Schneemann, Cindy Sherman, Annegret Soltau, Andy Warhol, Hannah Wilke, Man Ray – and the list goes on. These artists have inspired me for many years so the opportunity to see their work in front of me was beyond incredible.
Marina Abramovic, Miracle 3, 2018
“Frieze London 2018 will showcase the best of international contemporary art, with a discerning selection of around 160 galleries presenting their most forward-thinking artists and imaginative presentations. Opening for the first time with a two-day Preview, Frieze London coincides with Frieze Sculpture and Frieze Masters in The Regent’s Park, together forming the most significant week in London’s cultural calendar. Global lead partner Deutsche Bank supports Frieze London for the 15th consecutive year, continuing a shared commitment to discovery and artistic excellence. New collaborations with international curators, institutions and galleries will respond to contemporary issues – from the lack of visibility of women in the marketplace to hidden systems of communication and control – and create an exceptional environment for creativity and discovery.”
Lucien Clergue, Triptych P8642, 1986 (Frieze Masters)
New Themed Section: Following the success of Sex Work: Radical Art & Feminist Politics at Frieze London 2017, which focussed on artists from the 1960s and ‘70s, the fair this year will feature Social Work, celebrating artists who challenged the male-dominated art market of the 1980s. A panel of 11 women art historians and critics from UK institutions, including Iwona Blazwick, Katrina Brown, Louisa Buck, Amira Gad, Jennifer Higgie, Melanie Keen, Polly Staple, Sally Tallant, Fatos Üstek and Lydia Yee, will select a group of artists who challenged the status quo, embracing an activist approach in their art making and confronting social and cultural norms. The section will include both well-known and overlooked female artists, who address questions of identity, labour and visibility in their work.”
Tina Keane, (from Keane’s pioneering multimedia performance installation SHE (1978)
Generations of women artists either ignored — or were ignored by — the commercial art market, and often turned to teaching as an outlet for artistic expression and to earn a living. Such artists form the core of the “Social Work” invitational section of Frieze London this year, which organizers say is an effort to give them some overdue recognition. “Many of these women don’t have the visibility that they ought to,” Jo Stella-Sawicka, the fair’s artistic director, said in an interview. “And the reasons they aren’t better known are manifold. Some artists might have been marginalized for reasons of race or sexuality.
“And women often have to play different roles as caregivers to elderly parents or children and make their art in between that. Some artists just weren’t interested in being part of the scene.”
As my own artistic practice explores and struggles with the (mis)representation of the female identity, it was so inspirational to discover these amazing and definitely overlooked female artists, it was one of the most influential sections of Frieze Art Fair for me personally.
Carolee Schnemann, Hand/Heart for Ana Mendieta, 1986
As if the 160 galleries at Frieze wasn’t enough for us. We also visited numerous galleries in East and West London including The Photographers Gallery, Pilar Corrais, Alison Jacques Gallery, Tate Modern, Amanda Wilksinson Gallery, and again, believe it or not – the list goes on. But I will only speak about these galleries as they were the ones that inspired me the most.
Silver Lake Drive by Alex Prager, marks the first mid-career survey of the super talented photographer and filmmaker. The exhibition presented many meticulously staged, large scale photographs alongside her complete moving image work.
Alex Prager, The Big Valley: Eve, 2008
To mark the tenth-year anniversary of Pilar Corrias Gallery in London, Philippe Parreno presents three new major works, Fraught Times, FZRA January, 1998 (2018), Anywhen (2018) and Wallpaper, Marilyn (2018). What really stood out to me in this exhibition was the film and sound installation downstairs. The second exhibition space shows a new edit of the film Anywhen, first shown during Philippe Parreno’s 2016 Hyundai Commission for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. As with the Fraught Times series, Parreno’s work changes with the passage of time and is recreated and re-edited, interacting to its new environment. Anywhen (2018) explores the porousness of communication; through the voice of comedian and ventriloquist Nina Conti a monologue written by Parreno is heard from the body of a cuttlefish, representing the embodiment of another being inside her and presenting a non-symbolic language as seen on the dynamic skin patterns belonging to these fantastic, otherworldly creatures via camouflage.
Phillipe Parreno, Anywhen, 2018
At Alison Jacques Gallery, I witnessed the amazing Hannah Wilke’s work. Wilke's firm legacy as a pioneering, often controversial, feminist and conceptual artist is evident not only in her early use of vaginal imagery as a feminist intervention but also in her radical choice of materials. The use of terracotta and ceramic, latex, chewing gum and erasers was unusual for this time period and their characteristics of malleability and fragility reflect the sense of vulnerability that is consistent throughout Wilke's practice.
Hannah Wilke, Untitled, 1970
Hannah Wilke, Gestures (Triptych), 1974-76
At Tate Modern, I sat for an hour and watched The Clock by Christian Marclay. 24-hours long, the installation is a montage of thousands of film and television images of clocks, edited together so they show the actual time. It is a thrilling journey through cinematic history as well as a functioning timepiece.
Following several years of rigorous and painstaking research and production, Marclay collected together excerpts from well-known and lesser-known films including thrillers, westerns and science fiction. He then edited these so that they flow in real time. When watching The Clock you experience a vast range of narratives, settings and moods within the space of a few minutes.
Christian Marclay, The Clock, Tate Modern, 2018
Last and most definitely not least, I visited the Amanda Wilkinson Gallery where I was completely in awe of witnessing the one and only Joan Jonas’ work. Jonas is a pioneer of performance, video and installation who has pushed the boundaries of art for the last five decades and has long been a huge inspiration to me and continuously influencing my own practice so this was the biggest highlight of my time in London.
(My recording of) Joan Jonas, In The Trees II, 2015
Joan Jonas, Stream or River, Flight or Pattern, 2016-17
Not only did I see her work, I was STUPIDLY lucky enough to MEET her. Thanks to my mentor and Amanda Wilkinson, I was introduced to her. I got to shake her hand and tell her that she was a huge inspiration to me and my practice. I was very nervous about this chance of meeting her as I was hearing mixed reviews about “meeting” your idol/heroes. I mean damn, I sat in a talk with Tacita Dean just maybe an hour or two before this encounter and she even declared that it is sometimes dangerous and you can be filled with disappointment. I most definitely was not. I had purchased her book at the Hamburger Bahnoff Museum in Berlin over the summer, a collection of her works and many interviews which have directed me on the path I am now with my work. I asked her if she would sign it and she agreed, I was absolutely over the moon. I really don’t have any more words to sum up the experience of meeting her.
And no, I will never stop talking about it.
Thanks for reading,