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17th Edition of Frieze & Frieze Masters (London) 

13 - 1​7 October 2021

Frieze 2009 : An interview with the co-curators of "Frame" representing 30 emerging galleries from around the globe.

Ahead of the start of the Frieze Art Fair this week (October 15-18 2009), Pippa Jane Wielgos talks to Daniel Baumann, of the Kunstmuseum in Bern, and Sarah McCrory, of London's Studio Voltaire, who have been co-appointed as Frieze's special advisors to select project work for Frame, a showcase of 30 new emerging art galleries around the globe.

PJW: Who are the new talent?

Daniel Baumann: All would be a diplomatic response.

PJW: Any surprises?

Sarah McCrory: Not exactly "surprises", but there are some very interesting spaces – Neha Choksi, Project 88 from Mumbai, India and Balice Hertling from Paris. It's an interesting and varied selection because there are some very young artists with older galleries as well as older, more established artists represented within the younger galleries, which makes it quite diverse.

DB: What interests me personally is the multi-functional representation and interpretation of galleries – whether as a gallery you perceive yourself as a space for artists to show and sell work, or if you see yourself as a space to sell within the remit of a specified market or urban setting. I think that interpretation makes the difference to the gallery's presentational and contextual awareness.

Sometimes galleries are aware of this context. For example, some galleries are interesting because of their geographical sub-cultural locations, such as ones from more deprived neighbourhoods.

This is most likely the same in London and the regions, so I think we've had to take it into account. Although it would be nice to have galleries from Liverpool and other places, primarily what you'll see at Frieze this year are galleries from Europe.

As a general feature, I think one can say there are less American galleries represented because of the state of the economy, so we have aimed for a diversity of language, concepts and working methods of the way artists produce and do things. In that way it will be a multi-layered representation.

I think that adds to the texture of the fair, and we have been really conscious to represent people and projects which we feel in some way are important. It's hard having a full representation with just 30 galleries.

PJW: What risks do artists take that you may have not seen before?

DB: It's difficult to answer. Exposure of one's personal intimacies and life. For example, take Alan Cane and the way he has shown his parents and the collection of artefacts from around their house, opening up and laying bare something quite personal.

What he is showing is probably more interesting, as it could be completely unsellable. He's opened himself to criticism and attack.

Are there any major trends that you have identified?

SM: None, but a good and diverse group of juxtaposed artists, materially and conceptually.

DB: If anything, because of the crazes, maybe, things are getting smaller. In a very practical way they cost less and can be sold more easily.

Maybe "thought" is back. When you walk through, it's less big, trashy stuff. It has been very much object-driven during the past five or six years and was all about the object and its glamour. I think people become a bit sceptical about the validity of objects.

PJW: Where do the artists go from here?

SM: Hopefully it will give them visibility and a platform for promotion, dependent on gallery policy and building relationships with external audience.

You mentioned about risks being taken by artists. I would say that certain risks have been taken in that there are some very brave projects put forward by galleries which may not sell anything, yet at the end of the day the non-materialistic benefits of being in this sort of show is of huge career benefit in terms of building solid relationships.

PJW: How are galleries surviving the art world and market?

DB: There was the boom, and we are still coming out of that. Some did pretty well out of it.

SM: Even though people are buying less, or in some cases not at all, within the gallery world there is a big emphasis on relationships, and these relationships are quite strong in collectors' terms.

Art has become not about "shopping" per se, as it was in the past, but about relationships. If that's in place and someone does suffer financially, they will still have the potential leverage to bounce back. Collectors are still collecting but the shopping element has certainly gone.

© Pippa Jane Wielgos

16 October 2009.


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