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“We Think the Internet Changed Everything…”

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By Doug Aitken, Hot Mess, Aperture Series, 2016

Last friday I had the pleasure of visiting Frieze Art Fair in Regent’s Park as a part of my ”Mapping the Creative Economy” module at KU. For those who aren’t familiar with the fair (I wasn’t), Frieze London is an annual event focusing only on living artists and contemporary art. Approximately 500 galleries around the world apply each year hoping to present themselves and represent their artists at Frieze. Frieze has grown in popularity, and for the last four years more than 60,000 guests have walked through the art fair to experience an international programme of artists, young galleries and new artists, as well as artists working with sound and image.

Naturally, I felt drawn to the music and sound-related exhibitions, but unfortunately they we’re all booked up when we got there. One interesting art installation that seemed to incorporate the end of a tuba, was a piece by Berlin-based artist Alicia Kwade, who has always held a fascination “with the borders between science and suspicion” (Artreview, December 2013). 

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By Alicja Kwade, Hypothetisches Gebilde, 2015

This particular piece is based on the idea of ‘wormholes’. Wormholes connect parallel worlds that you can move around in without having any encounters (Alicjakwade.com). This piece is a graphic representation of the invisible wormhole.

More pictures from the fair are available here

This year, Frieze dedicated a whole theme to the 1990’s and how the 90’s have had a significant impact on today’s contemporary art. During Frieze Week the fair hosts several debates/lectures/discussions under the name of ’Frieze Talks’ curated by Frieze Magazine’s editors. On this particular Friday former Director of the Serpentine Gallery, Julia Peyton-Jones, The Guardian’s art critic, Adrian Searle, German artist, Wolfgang Tillmans and British artist-duo, Louise and Jane Wilson met to discuss how art, the access to art and culture, and the educational options in the art world have changed since the 1990’s.

They all started their careers between the mid 70’s and the mid/late 80’s and experienced first-hand the changes in the contemporary art world during that time. Julia Peyton-Jones points out that the platforms for artists to show their work in the early 90’s where still very few and the public didn’t have access to the art world the same way we see today – Frieze being a very good example of the ‘new’ accessibility with it’s 60,000 guests.

Although I do believe you will have to have a natural interest in, and an understanding of, the art exhibited, given the price of the ticket, the borders between the ‘creatives’ and the ‘public’ are increasingly dissolved. We talk about the internet, and how the internet changed the rules for communication between the artist and the ‘fans’ or public, through the use and incorporation of social media. This is not a ‘new’ phenomenon, but art fairs and display of exhibitions and artists, be that painters, sculptors, musicians, film directors etc., allows the public to get even closer to the work, and to the artist behind the work, than the internet will ever allow. I’m not exactly an art critic, nor do I know a skilled brushstroke from the brushstrokes of an amateur, but the fact that I was physically present during Frieze Week made me feel more invested in the exhibitions that I found to be interesting – made me want to research the artist’s previous work, their thoughts behind the specific work and the generel topic that led them to these thoughts. Something that I, when I think back, rarely experience online. That sense of ‘co-ownership’ of the experience that I now share with 60,000 other people from all over the world.

To quote Adrian Searle: “We think that the internet has changed everything, I think cheap air travel just as much”. 

Well, in terms of sharing art and culture – maybe you’re right.

The talk also touches upon how the academisation of the arts have changed the possibilities for young artists, as well as how the art world had to open up to outside influencers in order to grow. If you’re interested in the full Frieze talk it is available through Frieze website here.

 

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