Ahh Frieze. If you go to one art fair this year, make sure it's... Well OK, we're not in P.R. so we'll skip the gushing prose. But if
you've not heard of this fair you've either not read anything about art in over a decade or you're being deliberately obtuse, and are a liar. Quite simply it's one of the biggest and most important art fairs in the world.
If you've ever been then you'll not be surprised to note that it is the same as last year but slightly bigger, which was the same as it was the year before, albeit slightly bigger and with added sculpture park. Contemporary art's equivalent of The Great Exhibition, but without leaving such a grand structure as Crystal Palace in its wake like the smile of the Cheshire cat.
This year, given that we only had two and a half hours to see all of it, we're sure we missed some great works here or there. We didn't get a chance to wander around the sculpture park, or see any of the films. As with any great collection of artwork there pieces we really liked and some we didn't..... so apologies, we're degenerating into a highlights shortlist.
Things we liked: Wim Delvoye's stuffed pig with artwork tattooed on its skin, Alexei Shulgin's 386 computer replete with begging bowl singing Sir "thumbs aloft" McCartney's "Yesterday" via the magic of an ancient text to speech synthesiser, Petroc Sesti's huge glass globe which distorted everything seen through it, Darran Lago's human size plastic toy soldiers, the Chinese teenagers photographed in front of Chinese landmarks wearing US hip hop culture t-shirts (sadly we didn't catch the name of the artist), and Jonas Burgert's brilliant but unsettling huge figurative painting of two children and a man in a chair. Oh and the only smoking area which turns out to be an installation consisting of see-through smoking booths.
The thing that really stood out to us is how much contemporary art has become the direct equivalent of the Victorian Novelty show. Marvel at the animatronic parrots! Gasp as the world distorts as you view it through a huge glass ball! Wonder at the singing computer! However, not a bearded lady in sight.
By Oliver Gili
See for yourseves at Frieze Art Fair, Regents Park, 16-19 October 2008
Image: Something we didn't see but wished we had - Yoshitomo Nara - 2008