Frieze London: The Good, the Bad
and the Oculus Rift Art

10.21.13 Marina Galperina

For those who’ve never been, London’s Frieze Art Fair is a gigantic white circus tent over a labyrinth of cubicles stuffed with art of questionable cultural worth and varying socio-aesthetic potency, everything very expensive. But here’s your Frieze Art Fair experience in 6 seconds, exclusively from ANIMAL! It’s legit. Trying to cram all of this up your brain IRL is similar.

Now if you don’t have beautiful buds to root for, speed-walking through this emporium can be utterly alienating, like browsing a luxury non-functional object expo with $175.48 in your bank account ahem ahem. But then, something plucks your peripheral vision and you pause, like, woah sup Andrea Longacre-White. You get it. You get it.

Andrea Longacre-White of Various Small Fires Los Angeles gallery has 3D-printed mutated white electric orifices and scattered wires sprouting from chalky rocks. The work is about connections, disconnections, corporate bodies and their hacked appendages… Attaboy, Big Art. These are fantastic! But then, the press release brags that “corporate logos are stripped away (as if they were needed in the first place) to emphasize [their] non-functional and not-available-in-stores nature” and that’s a bit disingenuous, since it says “Apple” in the previous sentence.

There were also some scans of scans of scans of dirty iPads hanging on the walls — “photographic reproductions of non-pristine iPads and their disrupted digital and web representations” as to be “compulsively applying extremes of repetition, misuses and entropy grasping for the humanity embedded in these hermetically immaculate products” bablah blah — and when I asked the gallery attendant if that was, like, you know, basically Man Ray’s camera-less photograph for the digital age, he wasn’t amused, but whatever because OH MY GOD DAVID SHRIGLEY DAVID SHRIGLEY!!!

When I saw the Untitled (look at this) sign, my heart got wet with recognition. Artist David Shrigley with New York’s Anton Kern Gallery isn’t just very funny, he’s the prophet of clarity and sense amidst all the shiny shit (scroll down for Gagosian).

The bronze Hamlet and Lady Taking a Poop (feminist Rodin something something amirite?) are very funny. Also: Very funny. Take me. I love you.

I have nothing else to say about this, except for that this booth confirmed my years-long suspicion: If you don’t love David Shrigley, you eat your boogers.

Then, Oculus Rift art! I’ve seen Ian Cheng’s work before on DIS, but when mazed onto Formalist Sidewalk Poetry Club‘s booth corner, I hit the jackpot holy grail yo. The interactivity set-up is always a stand-out trick (ahem), but once I giddily strapped the thing on, I really was transported into a 3D universe like they said I would.

So, imagine this, but all around you and as you’re moving your head, some of it moves with you and leaves clanking trails of digital spew while the girl-avatar spins around and everything spins around and all around you and and and….

It was pretty incredible, even for a quickie with a queue, even though it’s blurrier and somewhat clunkier than I have been dreaming about. Shout out Miami gallery’s gentleman rep who was skeptical at first, but then geeked out with me for a precious few minutes. He explains: Cheng created his own programming system to build this bounded universe for you to bop and float around in. Yes, there is a gravitational center and each object has its own as well. There were two Oculus head-sets for two simultaneous users which interacted (bounced off and about) each other inside. Each object was programmed individually with its own sets of principles and “desires” and then set to randomize its actions. How’s that for #godmode?

And now for the #bullshit. Here is Jeff Koons’ Sacred Heart (Blue/Magenta) at the Gagosian HUGE sprawling “booth,” priced at 22 to 24 million dollars.

That’s $22,000,000 to $24,000,000. For an edition of three. And here is Gago’s Sasha II — an old Richard Phillips painting of a retired porn star that he made in 2012.

Because you deserve another good thing, a completely unexpected project was at Beijing’s Long March Space, an by “unexpected” I mean there’s a hymen Photoshopped into a Medieval helmet hole.

This is Zhu Yu’s 192 ArtProposals for the Member States of the United Nations (2006-2007). It’s absolutely fascinating and insane and not exactly “spot on” but… something jarring, as if the Yes Men were psychopaths and contributed to Adbusters on acid.

Name of Member State: France
Date of Admission to the United Nations: 24.10.1945
Title of Proposal: Virgin Clinic
Medium: C-Print
Description: Find a female French anti-war protester, and dress her in Medieval armor. With her consent, a well-respected surgeon will operate on her to make her a virgin again.

Name of Member State: Germany
Date of Admission to the United Nations: 18.09.1973
Title of Proposal: Sleepy Germans
Medium: Performance, sculpture
Description: Make a traditional Chinese-style ceramic baby pillow but replace the baby’s head with that of Adolf Hitler. Mass produce these pillows and make them available for purchase in Germany for Germans to sleep on.

Zhu Yu, Zhu Yu… That name’s familiar. Oh right. HE COOKED AND ATE A FETUS.

I leave you now with Heman Chong‘s Foucault’s Pendulum, The Elementary Particles, Pattern Recognition, What we talk about when we talk about love (2004) and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, A Fall of Moondust, Correction, Blindness (2008) from the series “stacking” presented by London’s Wilkinson Gallery.

I quite like this series.

Reminds me of a series I’ve been working on: “Hot Hot Photos Of Books On Bookshelves Of All The Apartments I Slept In In London Taken Secretly In The Morning.”

FINAL THOUGHTS/TIPS: The art fairs are all lubed up for “digital art” and press hashtaggery which is good timing! Learn to art fair. Get a press pass or a free pass or hop the fence always.

Pro tip: Excuse me. I’m sorry. My cellphone died, and I really must photo this Happy Mondays-related art work for a friend. Would you take picture and email it to me? Oh, thank you. You’re amazing!.. Where are you from?.. Oh, I’m also staying in Hackney…

(Photos/video: Marina Galperina/ANIMALNewYork)