LONDON - Frieze Art Fair in London is almost upon us. It’s been gathering momentum as an important stop on the art world circuit since its founding in 2003, and with the success of its more recent sibling Frieze New York, the London edition only grows in stature.

This year, from October 17 to 20, 152 galleries will be on hand in a newly redesigned tent (with wider aisles) in Regent’s Park. A few big name additions to the dealer roster: L.A.’s Blum + Poe, Marian Goodman Gallery of New York, and Goodman Gallery of Johannesburg. And Frieze Masters, the ancient-to-modern fair that occurs simultaneously with Frieze in the park, is also back in action on the same dates, with 120 galleries on hand. A sculpture park with works from both fairs should provide a nice, unifying touch.


The Frieze art fair will open October 17th. 

The Frieze format is fairly familiar along the template we see at the handful of other top fairs: a section for younger dealers, a section for solo artist shows, and then of course the rows and rows of the internationally important galleries.

But what has distinguished Frieze, I think, is the lineup of specially commissioned projects. They always seem to have the combination of playful spirit and intellectual inquiry that works well in the fair setting. Perhaps they overreach now and again, but that’s more fun than playing it safe. The reboot of Gordon Matta-Clark’s Food collective at Frieze New York this spring was a memorable example of a successful project.

This round does not lack for new ideas: Austrian artist Josef Strau is creating some of his Letter Tunnels, mail-shaped structures that fairgoers can crawl into. There are all sorts of surprises inside. American Ken Okiishi is somehow riffing on the game of paintball and Pollock-like drip paintings – perhaps he’s the first one to make this obvious, if potentially silly, connection – which visitors will be able to see through a clear-walled space. Also, he promises to use robots, and who doesn't like robots?


Ken Okiishi Portrait. Courtesy the artist and Reena Spaulings, New York.

Perhaps the most promising project comes from Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander. She’s updating her piece The Conversation, inspired by the great Francis Ford Coppola movie about surveillance (see it if you haven’t). Spy cameras are involved here, and I think she intends to address our surveillance-happy society.


Rivane Neuenschwander’s Bala Bala.

With the recent huge controversy about the National Security Agency spying on Americans, and the continued kerfuffle about WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and Edward Snowdon, this feels quite relevant. Neuenschwander did a version of this piece at the New Museum in 2010, and it may be yet another case of an artist presciently anticipating what we’ll be thinking about, and worrying about.

Tags:Art Fairs, Contemporary Art, London