Balloons, sex toys and toilet attendants? What the art world is buying into this year
Updated 6th October 2016
Balloons, sex toys and toilet attendants? What the art world is buying into this year
With 170 galleries from over 30 countries filling its tent, Frieze London is a truly international fair, celebrating the very best of the art world while acting as a microcosm for trends in the wider industry.
Fair director Victoria Siddall shares her personal highlights, from the playful and wry, to the conceptual and cerebral.

Performance art

Raphael Gygax, curator of the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Zurich, heads up this year's Frieze Projects, the nonprofit program that creates site-specific commissions at the fair.
Claus Richter, Facade, 2010 Credit: claus richter
"One of the pieces he's curated is a new play, (acted) out as a puppet theater, but by the writer Sibylle Berg and the artist Claus Richter," Siddall explains. "It envisages a future in which the traditional roles of men have been taken over by women and robots."
British artist Julie Verhoeven was also commissioned to take over one of the fair's bathroom areas, creating "The Toilet Attendant... Now Wash Your Hands."
Pastel pink and white cubicles are freshened with a signature watermelon scent, while power ballads blare and pop culture ephemera litters the area. Verhoeven herself is part of the installation, sitting as toilet attendant ready to chat to any willing visitors.
The work, while undeniably memorable for the most basic reasons, is said to highlight "invisibility of certain working groups and labor ethics."

Immersive installations

Visitors are encouraged to step inside several of the artworks, including an immersive light installation by James Turrell. ("Always hugely popular. And you know people queue for hours to experience these," Siddall explains.)
Hauser & Wirth, Frieze London 2016 Credit: Photograph by Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze.
There's also a balloon-filled room by Philippe Parreno, presented by Pilar Corrias, to coincide with his Turbine Hall installation at Tate Modern; and "L'atelier d'artistes," Hauser & Wirth's tongue-in-cheek reconstructions of artist studios containing both real and fake art works from the artists they represent.

Spotlight on women

When Tate Modern's new Switch House opened in June, the focus on female artists made headlines. This year, Frieze London has a similar focus, with solo exhibitions by the likes of Latifa Echakhch, Channa Horwitz and Goshka Makugar.
Read: London's Tate Modern gets a new look
Exhibitors seem to have gotten the message too: Third Line, a gallery from Dubai, is doing a presentation of female artists from the Middle East, while New York gallery P.P.O.W. will present art by four generations of feminist artists. It's in this space you'll find Portia Munson's "Pink Project: Table," a cornucopia of found objects --- from dolls to dildos -- all in the same arresting shade.
'Pink Project' by Portia Munson Credit: Photograph by Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze.
"It's something that the art world has not always been great at, the gender balance, but I feel with contemporary art, with this generation, this is the chance to really balance that out," Siddall says.

The nineties

This year Frieze London is looking back to the nineties with a section curated by critic Nicolas Trembley, featuring 12 presentations of works Siddall says "changed the conversation, and really influenced a younger generation of artists working today."
While this reflection on previous decades is commonplace in fashion, Siddall explains that this is a new trend in the art world.
"It's something curators are starting to do and artists are starting to do, so at Frieze we wanted to be part of that conversation and show it to a broader audience."
Aperto '93, Massimo De Carlo, The Nineties section, Frieze London 2016 Credit: Photograph by Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze.

The Sculpture Park

Launched in 2012, the Frieze Sculpture Park in Regent's Park -- which is open to the public -- has become a popular component of the fair.
Vigo Gallery, Frieze Sculpture Park 2016 Credit: VIGO GALLERY
This year it will stay open for three months, giving the public the chance to see works by 19 artists including Conrad Shawcross, Claus Oldenburg, Nairy Baghramian, Ed Herring, Goshka Macuga and Lynn Chadwick.
"It's great to see people just sort of jogging through the park, or picnicking with their kids, surrounded by these amazing works," Siddall says.
Frieze London is at Regent's Park, London, from 6-9 October
Watch the video above for Frieze Art Fair director Victoria Siddall's highlights from this year's fair.
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