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As Frieze crashed through New York like an art-filled tidal wave, we can finally reflect on the fair’s deliriously infinite offerings. With a cultural hubris and will to power through all the fair had to offer, I sailed off to Randall’s Island, and along with my cultural comrades, I spent the sun-soaked weekend amidst the art world elite. Four days of perusing over 190 galleries, experiencing the many non-profit programs including Frieze Projects, Talks, Sounds and Education, in addition to the satellite exhibitions like Nada Art Fair and Art in FLUX on Manhattan, this past weekend was one of artistic endurance to say the least.
With the eye-opening amount of art on view, Frieze, naturally, became a hotbed for social media. Let’s face it, hashtagging #FriezeNY along with a selfie in front of a Richard Prince New Portraits, from his notorious Instagram series, packs a cultural cred your Middle America followers will undoubtedly applaud. With this Digital Enlightenment characterized by internet fads and 20 minute trends, the next big thing is the ominous presence on everyone’s cultural horizon. Amidst the many mediums represented at Frieze, a few trends truly spoke to this day and age’s digital addictions.
To encapsulate today’s media mania is as easy as flipping your iPhone camera and snapping a quick pic. The selfie is synonymous with any outing, let alone one brimming with visual objects perfect to boost any impromptu photo opp. Before photography the only way to lovingly gaze at your own reflection was by staring into your trusty mirror. Mirror art encapsulates the dichotomy between seeing and being seen—add a smartphone into the experience and you can capture this voyeuristic spectacle for posterity.
Ivan Navarro’s “Conduit #1” on view at Paul Kasmin Gallery may not involve a personal reflection but is certainly entrancing in its spectacle—what seems to be a deep hole penetrating into the depths of the Frieze building itself is only a play of mirrors angled to create an effect of a endless ladder plunging into the earth.
Jeppe Hein’s “Be Who You Are Not Who You Were” on view at 303 Gallery plays as an aspirational mantra for the masses. Created from a neon sign encased by a two-sided mirror, viewers gaze into the artwork and are inspired by its message but at the same time forced to ponder their identity on the spot. Platforms like Instagram are about the here and now, or at least that is where their foundations lay—Hein works with and against spontaneity by offering at once a glimpse and at moment of self-reflection.
Tony Oursler’s talking heads have been captivating audiences for decades. On view at Lisson Gallery is his recent “PRI” which adds an additional layer of reflection into the mix. Art that incorporates mirrors is inherently participatory because it literally traps viewers within its reflective grasp. A mirror shaped in the silhouette of a face incorporates three videos placed at each eye and the mouth. As you gaze into the mirror you are forced to watch the looped videos of blinking eyes and a pursing mouth which makes you hyper aware of your own facial characteristics.
Walking into an empty room with the television on, picking up a deserted cup of coffee that is still warm, these uncanny situations we find ourselves in eerily point to a human presence that is nowhere to be found. Separating everyday objects with the people that would actually use these items is a conceptual exercise, especially in a society so intertwined with fetishized commodities.
Bidoun Projects took the fetish to new heights by placing the mundane utilities of the art world elite on display. Hal Foster’s Breath Mints, Lawrence Weiner’s Gold Tooth, Cindy Sherman’s Eyeliner, and Hans Ulrich Obrist’s Passport among other everyday items were encased in glass to provide security that did not detract from an optimal viewing experience of these cultural commodities.
Guillaume Leblon’s exhibition at Galerie Jocelyn Wolff is an uncanny testament to existence. Weaving throughout the draped hoods and elaborate coats without the actual owner filling the interiors is a chilling experience reminiscent of childhood nightmares.
Daniel Arsham’s “Catching up to the Future” on view at Galerie Perrotin is an open casket to our recent past of analog technology. Void of any human presence, a pile full of ghetto blasters, tape decks, landlines and other anachronistic technologies are laid to rest in a circular grave under the gallery floor. Covered in what seems to be years worth of dust and detritus, these petrified machines become fossils to the high-speed efficiency of digital technology. Staring into the void it is hard not to personify these machines as belongings that once held great merit, but are now just objects to dispose.
This craze of reflection and reified objects is in tune to our contemporary digital craze. Until people put down the phones and start actually enjoying an experience in situ, one can assume to see these trends pushing through the brinks of upcoming art fairs and exhibitions.