Xavier Hufkens – David Altmejd
For this year’s booth at Frieze, David Altmejd created Flag Burning, the artist’s first departure from three dimensions towards a flatter two-dimensional structure. David Altmejd is known for creating highly detailed sculptures that often blur the distinction between interior and exterior, surface and structure, representation and abstraction. The ‘heads’, Spacing Out, The Endless Tale and Flesh (all 2017) that were displayed created a haunting reality, Flesh bore a remarkable resemblance to Abraham Lincoln, bordering on horror scenes or a fairy-tale gone bad, creating a perceptional impulse to flicker our eyes as if we saw something that wasn’t there.
P.P.O.W. – Anton Van Dalen, The Pigeon Car, 1987
One of the recurring elements at Frieze was not only looking at the current political climate, but also its historical precedents. For this year’s presentation at Frieze, P.P.O.W. focused on the politically charged scene of New York City’s East Village in the 1980s. The booth included a large-scale, car-shaped pigeon coop by Anton van Dalen, originally exhibited at Exit Art in 1988, alongside pioneering works by artist-activists Martin Wong, David Wojnarowicz, and DAZE. The central theme in the works touched different aspects of the 80s landscape in New York showing the influence of immigration, street art and Hip Hop. P.P.O.W., alongside Simone Subal Gallery, that presented works by the Austrian-American pioneer of feminist Pop Art, Kiki Kogelnik (1935-1997), won this year’s Frieze Art Fair Stand Prize.
303 Gallery – Doug Aitken, 2943 Canfield Drive (Riot House), 2016
Doug Aitken’s 2943 Canfield Drive (Riot House) distorted the playfulness of the basic outline of a house imbued with colourful and bright images of smoke and sparkles, into something much grimmer, when looked at closely. Aitken created the work based on the location where unarmed Michael Brown was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson, resulting in protests and riots, making it into a no-go zone for reporters. The lightbox was filled with the imagery of police wearing riot gear and gas masks, amidst tear gas, marching towards the viewer. The spectacular element turned quickly into harsh reality.
Simon Preston Gallery – John Gerrard, World Rivers (Flag), 2017
In the work of John Gerrard reality was simulated along algorithms to create a cycle of our environment that is contained by a screen, as such it gave us a window of observation. World Rivers (Flag) (2017) portrayed a small section of four of the largest rivers in four parts around the globe, the Amazon (Brazil), Danube (Europe), Yangtze (China), and Nile River (Egypt). The river colour was represented, alongside buildings and trees on the riverbank present as reflections. At the centre of the scene a gasoline spill was simulated – accurately refracting the light to create a vivid prismatic patch, endlessly shifting in shape over time. The camera in the work circled this form while the work unfolded over a 365 day solar cycle of night and day. The soft undulation of the waves animated the scene, giving rise to the title of the work.
Martos Gallery – Aura Rosenberg, Head Shots: Mike Kelley, 1993 – 2017 (Focus)
Aura Rosenberg’s sexually suggestive Head Shots exposed questions of authenticity in image production, who’s faking it, what is an authentic art work? Her sharp solo booth at Martos of outtakes from her 1990s cult book showed every exposure from a roll of film, analogue images of Mike Kelly that explore male intimacy. Rosenberg’s strategy is seduction, we are beguiled by the shift of conventions, the female gaze framing the male subject “seemingly caught at the moment of orgasm… something rarely seen in newspapers, advertisements, or even pornography.” In an era of fake news, what is truth?
SculptureCenter – Rochelle Goldberg, New World Dealers, 2017
Rochelle Goldberg completed New World Dealers, a series of 20 unique Limited Edition works, made of desert sand, coal slag, oyster shell dust, plastic, and shellac in spring 2017 to feature at SculptureCenter’s booth at Frieze New York. The faces moulded in plastic, hung on the wall of the booth, were reminiscent of severed heads hanging in dystopian sci-fi and fantasy novels and busts of prominent figures in antiquity museums. A great anagram of the ever-whimsical artist, are the dealers the new world leaders?
Chapter NY – Milano Chow (Frame)
Milano Chow’s graphite drawings and collages appeared to be presented in a different space, one that was not related to art fairs or galleries. Chow’s total installation conjured an illusion of domesticity, a theatrical domestic ambiance, a stage on which the works on the dark grey walls and the unique accordion book on a Chinoiserie-style lacquer table came to life in their own surreal self. Using an illusionistic and architectural approach, Chow’s eight drawings recalled elements and narratives that one would encounter in everyday life, the unsettling factor of an elegance long forgotten, as if leaving the fair behind.
On Stellar Rays – Rochelle Feinstein (Focus)
Coinciding with Rochelle Feinstein’s fourth solo show at the gallery, On Stellar Rays created a remarkable small scale presentation of her work in the booth for Frieze’s Focus section. Ear to the ground (2017) came as a natural background in this buoyant surrounding of the fair’s preview day. The handwritten words, such as Social Engineering, Heartbroken, and This is Next, printed in digital pigment on silk polyester seemed to evoke protest signs and fluidly acted as a screen backdrop for current unrests and constant protest in society, as a murmuring of multiple voices. In Tropaeum Sui (2017) cellphones combined with ceramic, polyamide epoxy and aluminum formed sculptures made into modern day trophies of the self.
Frieze Projects – Jon Rafman – Dream Journal, 2017
After Jon Rafman’s highly successful sculptural installation including VR-experiences at Seventeen’s booth at Frieze London last year, Cecilia Alemani, curator of the Frieze Projects, tapped him for another show-stopping experience of looking and being looked at. Close to the North Entrance of the fair, Rafman transformed a booth into a secretive black box, a movie theatre, where visitors could watch – and be watched while watching – a new video series fusing amateur 3D animation and niche genres of computer-generated erotica, playing with the senses of exhibitionism and voyeurism. A cabaret-esque drawing on the outside wall drew in the viewer while lingering on the early experiences of phantasmagoria in 19th century circuses.
Galeria Jaqueline Martins – Hudinilson Jr. (Frame)
In the Frame section, Galeria Jaqueline Martins’ booth came to life with a plethora of works by Hudinilson Jr., a Brazilian multimedia and conceptual artist. He was one of the pioneers of Xerox art in Brazil. One of the earliest Xerox pieces on view is from 1981, when he initiated Exercício de Me Ver (Exercise for Seeing Myself), which consisted of the xerographic reproduction of parts of his own body, arranged in grids.
Rodolphe Janssen – Emily Mae Smith
“I think that a lot of times the paintings are like machines, and my mind is like, ‘How do I make that machine work?’” Smith says in a video, directed by artist Robin Cameron and filmmaker Wilson Cameron and produced by the Standard. The drawings and sketches on view at Rodolphe Janssen’s booth at Frieze gave you a little insight on how Smith’s mind works, and how she achieves her ultra-flat Pop-art like paintings. Her most famous motifs such as the broom from Fantasia, sunglasses, heels and dresses were all present in the early stage studies as a watercolour, or a pen and pencil drawing. They already fully contained Smith’s psychological, surreal, realistic, and representational qualities, as such it illustrates the returning elements.
Maxime Van Melkebeke
Maxime Van Melkebeke (BE, 1981) is an independent curator who lives and works in New York. He received his MA in Contemporary Art History, Criticism and Conservation from Sotheby’s Institute of Art, New York. His thesis The Transformation of Human Identity through Perception received distinction for its original contribution to the scholarship on its subject. In 2016, Van Melkebeke started an online project space, Offspace.xyz. Recent exhibitions include A Stay in the Paphos Loop and solo projects by artists such as Tomaso De Luca, JAŠA, Anouk Kruithof, Olga Fedorova, and many more. He is currently working on a solo live streaming project on Offspace.xyz with sound and video artist Lotte Rose Kjær Skau in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is also co-curating a solo show, BITTERSWEET, of new paintings and photographs by Lisse Declercq at Loft22 Art Space, with Frédérique Lippens, in Antwerp.