“You’re parasitic. And I don’t mean that negatively.”
As this snatched burst of conversational genius drifted out of the bustling crowd at this year’s incarnation of the Frieze New York Art Fair, the words seemed to neatly sum up what art fairs have become to the art world – a symbiotic species that draws its sustenance from the host.
As I wandered through the warren of airy booths in the gigantic tent on Randall’s Island once again last week, it became hard not to wonder about the drain on collective resources these increasingly elaborate events have become, however convenient and collegial they are for busy collectors. As a community, we need to examine how these fairs can stay fresh and enrich the dialogue around art, as bland seen-it-before sameness (even when punctuated by moments of artistic thrill) is evolving into a real threat.
As usual, this particular fair blends its photography into the larger whole of contemporary art, with no photography specialist galleries on hand and single images mixed in throughout the many booths; this creates a sense of the chase for those of us with photography on the brain, as it takes some effort to sift the photographs out of the rest of the work on view. Photography-wise, it’s a schizophrenic amalgamation, with an alternating array of new contemporary work from famous names and unexpected discoveries (old and new) from lesser known artists.
This report is divided into three sections of image highlights, shown in annotated slideshows. I have generally avoided works that have recently been on view in New York gallery shows or that we have already reviewed in another context, instead opting for fresh images new to the market or surprising finds (your mileage may vary depending on which shows you’ve already seen and what artistic ruts you travel in). Gallery names/links are followed by the artist/photographer name, the price of the work, and some notes and comments as appropriate. The booths are organized by my path through the fair, beginning at the South entrance.
Continue here for Part 2 of this report.