Frieze// The tale in which we find ourselves Augmenting our way around the open market archipelago of artists, merchants and a bobble clad woman.
After having been invited to Frieze to compose a piece of writing about my experiences there and pinpointing some of the artists I found particularly engaging, I found myself in a perplexed state of knowing where to start. There is so much, an amalgamation of booths searching for buyers as well as doing their best not to allow the art to become a fetishised commodity. Having recently been introduced to the Augment app by a friend and fellow artist Emily Sparkes, I’d had much fun projecting deer into the toilet and conjuring a Rodin sculpture onto the coffee table.
I thought the best way to approach the temporal nature of Frieze would be the vessel of my phone. So much of the Frieze experience to those who do not attend is funneled through magazine reviews or via Instagram, an inhabiting of the space through adding to it, with Augment, seemed like a suitable approach to grasping Frieze.
Through creating virtual collages with Augment, Frieze becomes a place of potential creativity; it wasn’t so much a journey to be stirred by the art on show as much as it becomes an opportunity to do the stirring. Frieze itself feels a lot like an act of distancing, whether it is because everything there seems reasonably unattainable to a recent MA graduate or perhaps it is here we see the synapses where connections are made, all islands singing their own tunes to each other and to us.
Bringing forth a giant Rhinoceros into an installation can become an amicable croak amid the siren song of Frieze. A moment of iconoclastic joy within the spectacle, made all the more temporary by existing on the plasma canvas of the phone screen, nothing is added in reality, only temporally.
Objects bump their way into the tent, summoning children’s playgrounds and celestial bodies into space. Augmented planets play with Olafur Eliasson and a disembodied model goat sits next to a twice-removed cousin in one of Damien Hirst’s boxes. The mundane has its day among nineties favourites.
Jon Rafman’s Trans Dimensional Serpent offers a direct mainline into virtual reality, allowing the viewer to inhabit the space of Frieze within an altered reality. The queue for the installation seems to reflect this desire of escape to inhabit a space beyond the real, or in turn something adjacent to it. The hunger for new media is in no short supply, a new generational understanding of how ideas collide, the glitch, the fetish for failures.
Augmenting Frieze became a chance to explore these notions, the naff and the poignant going hand in hand, in a festival looking back as it looks forward, occupying some space between feeling and being consumed.
A group of 10 artists from Staffordshire, Birmingham and the Black Country were nominated to attend Frieze London 2016 with the support of New Art West Midlands' Artist and Curator Professional Development Programme. Those selected are all alumni of the New Art West Midlands graduate exhibitions. This text is the second in a series of reflections on their individual experiences of Frieze.