Suffragettes on Randall’s Island
A Preview of Frieze New York

The mixture of international newcomers, established positions, rediscoveries, and the noncommercial supporting program gives Frieze New York an unmistakable profile. Achim Drucks on the highlights of the fair, which this year is unaccustomedly political.
Banners, slogans, colorful, objects carried out around by women and men in uniform-like overalls: Lara Schnitger’s Suffragette City merges demonstration and religious ritual. The action of the Dutch artist is a statement calling for equal rights and the peaceful coexistence of different cultures. After Los Angeles, Basel, and Berlin, the political procession named after a David Bowie song can now be experienced in New York for the first time, as part of the new Live section of Frieze New York. Live, which has replaced Frieze Projects, presents performances and installations that deal with alternative communities as well as explosive social issues. For example, Adam Pendleton’s monumental Black Dada Flag (Black Lives Matter)addresses police violence against black people in the USA. The flag will wave until November on the shore of Randall’s Island, where the  fair is taking place for the seventh time. Frieze New York is sponsored by Deutsche Bank, the Global Lead Partner of the Frieze fairs. Of course the bank also sponsores the new Frieze Los Angeles. The fair will be presented at Paramount Pictures Studios in February 2019. 

Live was organized by Adrienne Edwards, the new performance art curator at the Whitney Museum in New York. She is also curating the presentation of Kapwani Kiwanga, the inaugural winner of the Frieze Artist Award. The new prize gives young artists the opportunity to realize an ambitious project. In Randall’s Island Park, Kiwanga erected an enterable structure composed of metal parts and lengths of fabric. The artist investigates the “architecture of power” that leads and controls people or even excludes them.

This year’s Talks also revolve around social and political topics. In the age of Twitter, when complex issues are dealt with in short 280-character messages, the Talks rely on the vigor of literature. In addition to artists, there will be writers on the podium, including Kaitlyn Greenidge and Ottessa Moshfegh, two of the most interesting young U.S. literary talents. A special highlight of the program is a talk by star critic Jerry Saltz, who was recently awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

In the tents at the fair more than 190 galleries from 30 countries are present this year. As always, the spectrum of artists ranges from big names such as Tracey Emin, David Hockney, Pierre Huyghe, and Andy Warhol to interesting newcomers. The Stevenson gallery from Cape Town is showing a solo presentation of Kemang Wa Lehulere, the Deutsche Bank “Artist of the Year” 2017. While the Frame section is reserved for young galleries, Spotlight presents twentieth-century positions that have been overlooked by the art scene. Among the highlights of this section are Betye Saar’s feminist collages, which the African-American artist created for a large Pan African festival in Lagos that celebrated black culture in 1977. The section also features compelling works by representatives of the postwar Japanese avant-garde, including Atsuko Tanaka and Keiji Uematsu, who inspired Koki Tanaka, the “Artist of the Year” 2015. (For more on this topic, read our interview with Spotlight curator Toby Kamps).

And Deutsche Bank is on hand again. This year, its lounge is devoted to Valeska Soares. The New York-based Brazilian artist created a site-specific installation that investigates the topic of time. A selection of her paintings and sculptures is also on view. Soares stands for a very sensual kind of conceptual art that everyone can experience, following in the footsteps of artists such as Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Clark, the protagonists of the 1960s Brazilian avant-garde. In August, a large Soares exhibition sponsored by Deutsche Bank opens at the Pinacoteca in São Paulo.

To kindle the young generation’s enthusiasm for contemporary art, Frieze New York has initiated an education program. It includes Frieze Teens, a program that gives high school students interested in contemporary art behind-the-scenes insights. Prior to the fair, the students attend workshops and meet with artists, curators, and industry experts. The program has its highpoint at the Frieze, where the young people can work as guides and pass on their new knowledge of current developments in contemporary art to student groups. The Education Program is made possible by Deutsche Bank. For years the bank supports projects that create access to art and foster creativity – also for children and teenagers.

Frieze New York
May 2 – 6, 2018
Randall’s Island